On the same note, although taking the herbs mentioned in tea form can often be the best way (the hot tea will work in a similar way to a steam), it may be best to switch to tinctures before bes as they contain less liquid and are less likely to disturb sleep for that reason!
These coughs need herbs that will sooth the mucous membranes and antispasmodic herbs to help calm the cough reflex.
Mullein is cooling and moisturising. The leaves, flowers and root can all be used for coughs although it's interesting to note that Paul Bergner points out most herbals quote mullein leaves as being demulcent (forms a soothing film over mucous membranes) they are actually an irritating expectorant while it's the flowers that are demulcent.
Marshmallow is another cooling, demulcent herb and is also very mucilaginous which makes is an excellent choice to sooth and protect irritated mucous membranes. Again flowers, leaves and root may be used and it makes a valuable addition to a cough syrup.
A traditional herb given for coughs, especially those that are irritating and spasmodic. It has a soothing demulcent effect and helps to loosen mucus and reduce the spasms of a cough. The Latin name Tussilago literally means "cough dispeller".
Debs Cook writes about the fact that Thyme "remains a popular remedy for sore throats, laryngitis and dry coughs. Herbalists also recommend it for other respiratory ailments such as whooping cough and bronchitis"
Instead, use expectorant herbs to help loosen up the phlegm, making it easier for you to cough up and easing your breathing.
Ginger is a warming and dry stimulating expectorant that is also anti-spasmodic and antitussive (capable of relieving coughing)
Elecampane is another warming, stimulating expectorant that can help in virtually all chronic lung conditions including coughs.
Hyssop is a drying and slightly warming expectorant which encourages the production of a more liquid mucous while stimulating expectoration. Hyssop can sometimes irritate mucous membranes so it's best given after an accompanying infection has peaked to allow it's tonic action to aid recovery.
A bitter and slightly cooling expectorant that dilates the arteries and helps to ease lung congestion. It also causes the secretion of a more fluid phlegm.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
- a persistent cough that doesn't respond to anything over the course of a week
- a cough that is very painful
- coughing up blood and/or yellow or green phlegm
- a cough that lasts for three months or more and even several doses of antibiotics won't clear. In this situation, make sure your doctor orders an urgent x-ray as it's one of the first signs of lung cancer.