PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Natural remedies for stubborn cough?

Q: I’ve had a cold and have been coughing and stuffed up for days. I have read that using nasal sprays can be addictive. Cough medicines are not helping much either. I would prefer some natural approaches that don’t cause rebound congestion. What can you suggest?

A: The usual ingredient in cough syrup, dextromethorphan, is no better than placebo for kids and only modestly effective for adults (Journal of Family Practice, October 2009).

Natural alternatives that may provide some relief include tea made of thyme or ginger.

Elderberry and Chinese herbs such as andrographis or astragalus also might be helpful.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition. In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. 
E-mail them via their 
Web site: www.peoples They can be reached at peoplespharmacy

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8 comments Add your comment

mystery poster

January 28th, 2010
10:09 am

My mother used to give us honey and lemon. Mix about 1/4 c honey with juice from 1 lemon. Take by the teaspoonful.


January 31st, 2010
10:30 am

Mine was Irish, same ratio honey and lemon but with a shot of Jameson’s added.


January 31st, 2010
11:10 am

If you are going to make suggestions you need to let us know where to get these Chinese herbs and Elderberry~!


January 31st, 2010
12:24 pm

If it’s post-nasal drip, try a neti pot.

mystery poster

February 1st, 2010
2:43 pm

Just read that ginger tea is supposed to help. Take some fresh ginger and pour boiling water over it and steep until the water is golden brown. Add honey to taste.

donna dee

February 16th, 2010
3:54 pm

honey w/warm lemon works like magic all the time. even if honey isn’t avail, a fresh lemon (or the bottled kind) works perfect for me every time.

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September 13th, 2010
9:58 am


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