What is a Cough?
Cough is a forced exhalation against a closed glottis, which opens up with the violent release of air from the lungs. A cough is preceded by a deep and quick inhalation. It can be either voluntary or involuntary.
Cough is considered to be acute if it is present for less than three weeks. It is sub-acute if present between three to eight weeks. If the cough is persistent for more than eight weeks, it is called chronic. A productive cough is when sputum is coughed up and non-productive is when it is dry.
What are the Causes of a Cough?
A cough usually indicates the presence of a disease. The disease may range from mild infection of the mucous lining of the pharynx and the respiratory tract to serious life-threatening ones like tuberculosis and cancer of the lungs.
Some of the Causes of Cough are:
- Respiratory tract infection – common cold, bronchitis, pneumonia, pertussis or tuberculosis
- Reactive airway diseases like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and smoker’s cough
- Gastroesophageal reflux
- Air pollution
- Foreign body in the airway
- Psychogenic cough – coughing to seek attention. For example, a child develops a cough when he or she has a sibling with a chronic cough and gets more attention from parents
- Neurogenic cough – cough due to neuropathic disorder
Homemade Cough Syrups
Most of the cough syrups available in the market give temporary relief to the problem. As they contain some chemicals that do not suit the body, homemade cough medicine is the preferred way. Here are some recipes for herbal cough syrups:
- Ginger – Lemon Tea: Squeeze the juice of two lemons and grate the zest of the lemon. Add half tablespoon sliced ginger and one-and-a-half tablespoons of grated lemon zest in 1 cup of water and bring it to boil. Let it simmer for 5 minutes. Strain the solution. Slightly heat 1 cup of raw honey and mix it with the strained solution. Add the lemon juice and let it simmer for a few minutes, with constant stirring. When the mixture changes into frothy dark brown, turn off the heat. Store this in a jar and take it every two hours.
- Milk with Turmeric: Having one cup of hot milk with a pinch of turmeric powder can soothe the mucous lining and reduce the cough episodes. This mixture, when taken before bedtime can prevent nocturnal cough and is considered to be a good natural cough suppressant.
- Lemon, Cinnamon and Honey: Roast one-inch piece of cinnamon and grind it into a smooth powder. You can use one tablespoon cinnamon powder. Double boil 1 cup honey until it becomes thin. Add the cinnamon powder and juice of one lemon. Have it every 2 hours and during bedtime to keep away cough. Adding one teaspoon of dry ginger powder in the mixture can help soothe the throat.
- Brandy with Honey: A mixture of one teaspoon honey with one teaspoon brandy can relieve cough temporarily. It can be consumed every 2 to 3 hours and before bedtime.
- Leaves from Holy Basil: Boil leaves of holy basil (tulsi) and dry ginger powder in a cup of water. Continue boiling till the water reduces to half of the original quantity. Mix a teaspoon of honey and drink the mixture when it is warm. This can serve as an excellent cough syrup for infants and older kids.
- Clove-Cinnamon-Dry Ginger: Boil water along with half teaspoon dry ginger powder, a pinch of clove powder and a pinch of cinnamon powder and make it as a herbal tea. Honey can be added for taste.
- Milk with Pepper and Turmeric: Add a pinch each of black pepper powder and turmeric in one cup of hot milk. Add honey for taste. Sip and drink slowly for a soothing effect and cough relief.
- Honey-Onion-Garlic: Mix a half cup of water and half cup of honey. Chop one onion and one clove of garlic and add it to the mixture. A dash of thyme or oregano may be added, but is optional. Allow this mixture to steep overnight and strain it in the morning. The mixture can be had 2-3 times a day. Store it in the refrigerator.
- Horseradish Syrup: Mix a quarter cup of honey with a teaspoon of grated horseradish and allow to steep overnight. Use this as cough syrup, taking about 2-3 times a day.
- Cough Syrup with Moonshine: Mix quarter cup of Moonshine, a quarter cup of honey and 1 tablespoon of lemon. Bring the mixture to boil. Keep stirring while simmering for about 5 minutes. The mixture can be consumed immediately by sipping from a coffee mug. The mixture can cause drowsiness and must be consumed just before sleeping.
- Honey, Olive Oil and Lemon: Mix three-quarter cup of honey with the juice of 3 lemons and a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil. Heat on low flame until the mixture starts to steam. Cool the mixture and store in airtight container in the refrigerator. Take one tablespoon of the mixture as a cough syrup, when required.