Every once in awhile everyone suffers from a common cold that comes with the dreaded coughing fits. Sustained coughing can be irritating and painful, but despite this quite a few of us cannot stomach gulping down medication. After all, this is often an illness that people think it is something that needs to run its course.
One might wonder whether a warm cup of herbal tea does anything other than soothing the throat. True, the warmth of a hot tea soothes the throat and loosens up the mucus and promotes its clearance. But certain herbs do contain certain compounds that make them a great natural anti-tussive agent.
Here are 7 such herbs that you can use to prepare tea for your cough.
7 Scientifically Proven Herbal Teas For Cough
1. Honey Tea
The first ingredient on this list has to be honey. It is loved by (almost) everyone and its perfect for you if you don't have any other herbs at home but need immediate relief from cough. Honey will make any herbal tea anti-tussive.
Honey is rich in antioxidants that can help reduce the inflammation and irritation in the throat. They are proven to reduce cough associated with respiratory tract infections. In fact, some studies suggest that it might even be better than Benadryl (diphenhydramine). Honey has a fast onset of action. If your cough is disrupting your sleep take some honey tea 30 minutes before bed and that should help with it.
You can use any herb that you have at home to prepare honey tea for your cough. But if you have any of the below-mentioned herbs, adding a little bit of honey in them might give you a superior effect against cough.
2. Marshmallow Root Tea
This native herb from Europe, Asia, and Africa has many medicinal properties and therefore has been used for centuries for the treatment of respiratory and digestive illnesses. It is now proven that it is really effective against cough.
A study conducted in Germany reported that marshmallow root helps relieve oral and pharyngeal irritation and the cough associated with it. The best thing about it that its action initiates very quickly (within 10 minutes with syrup). It also reduces the mucus formation in respiratory tract infections.
To prepare marshmallow root tea you can either get premade teabags or you'll need dried marshmallow root. Steep it just like any other tea in boiled water and enjoy!
3. Thyme Tea
Thyme is a herb that is very frequently used in culinary practice all across the world. They can be used to prepare a healthy cup of herbal tea, especially if you have a cough.
Studies suggest that thyme is great for acute bronchitis. It reduces both the frequency and severity of the cough (by 50%). It even reduces the duration of the illness (by 2 days). You may have to consume thyme tea for 10-15 days for a complete resolution of infection.
If you can get a combination of thyme, primrose, and ivy leaf that's even better.
4. Turmeric tea
Turmeric is a herb that is commonly used as a spice.
It is well known for it's anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, that will not only soothe the inflamed throat but also kill off the bacteria causing a cough. It helps with cough, as well as clears off mucus.
Resulting from lowered immunity, a common cold can sometimes result in secondary bacterial infections which can spread into lungs and cause conditions like acute bronchitis and pneumonia. Turmeric being an immune-boosting agent might not only prevent common cold but also worsening of cold into severe complications.
To prepare turmeric tea put 1-2 teaspoons of turmeric in water and simmer it for 5-10 minutes. Steeping won't be the best idea in the case of turmeric. Once done, strain the tea into a cup. It has a bland taste, so consider adding a little bit of honey.
5. Oregano Tea
Though not the best in taste, Oregano is great for respiratory tract infections as well. It is great for relieving sore throat, cough, and hoarseness associated with URTI.
Oregano also has antibacterial, antiviral effects, and immuno-modulating effects. It, thus, might help prevent viral infections leading to cough and its possible complications.
You can read more about the health benefits of oregano tea and how to prepare it here.
6. Sage Tea
This holy herb is also known for its long lists of health benefits, one of which is for the treatment of throat infection. Sage is great for relieving the distressing symptoms of pharyngitis including throat pain and sore throat.
In fact, one study suggests that its efficacy is equivalent to chlorhexidine and lidocaine in treating throat pain. It is also a great anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial agent. So if you have a cough that is associated with throat pain, a hot cup of herbal tea made of sage is what you need.
There are a variety of sage available in the market, but you need Salvia officinalis variety for your cough. The sage that is available to burn as incense is the Salvia apiana (white sage). White sage is also not meant to be used in tea.
7. Horehound Tea
Horehound is a member of the mint family which is known for its expectorant activity and was widely used by the Romans for respiratory tract infections.
Traditionally it was used to treat the cough associated with pharyngitis, whooping cough, and even tuberculosis. With the advancement in medicine, they got less popular as the first choice as an expectorant, but they are still very well-known for their anti-tussive activity.
They are also a great anti-inflammatory agent, and so they might soothe the inflamed throat as well.
How to Prepare a Perfect Cup of Herbal Tea for Cough
Herbal teas don’t contain “tea” in it. Tea technically means the beverage that is prepared by steeping or boiling leaves of the shrub Camellia sinensis, the tea plant. Though, you can add tea in your herbal tea if you don’t mind a little bit of caffeine in your tea. The process to prepare herbal tea is the same as you prepare a regular tea.
Start by boiling a pot of water. Make sure to bring the water to a boil because a higher temperature will help bring out the flavors and the beneficial substances from the herb into the water.
Once the water is boiled, put the herb of your choice and let it steep in the hot water for 10-15 minutes. Depending on how strong you want your herbal tea, you can add more amount of herb. Once done, strain and enjoy your fresh tea. Add honey to flavor and to get that added anti-tussive effect of honey.
Experiment a little bit with a combination of herbs to create your perfect drink.
Possible Side-Effects of Herbal Teas
In general, herbs are usually pretty safe to use for most. Though they may have some side-effects, usually when consumed at very high doses. Also, some people may be allergic to certain herbs. If you have any known allergies to these herbs, avoid using them.
Some possible side-effects of these herbs are as follows:
1. Avoid giving honey to infants (babies less than 1-year-old). There is a risk that they might develop infant botulism if the honey is contaminated with a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. This condition is 100% reversible, but still, avoid the pain and go for some good honey brands.
2. Sage, thyme, horehound, and oregano all belong to the mint family (Labiatae family). The herbs from this plant family tend to show cross-reactivity; meaning, if you are allergic to any herb of this family, you are likely to be allergic to other herbs too. Sage, thyme, oregano, mint, marjoram, basil, lavender, etc, are some members of the Labiatae family.
3. If you have migraine be cautious with the use of thyme as thyme can induce certain mechanisms in the system that causes migraine. The triggers for migraine is different for everyone, so it might not induce migraine in everyone. But if it is a trigger for you, avoid using it.
4. Oregano is known to lower blood sugar levels. So if you are a diabetic on medication, be cautious and avoid using too much oregano tea. Adding a little bit of honey might help you counteract the hypoglycemic effect of oregano. But again, be cautious, honey can spike your sugar levels.
Make yourself a hot cup of herbal tea if you have a cough right now. They are soothing and effective, and pretty safe to use.
If you have a fever along with cough, make sure you maintain your hydration. These teas will help you achieve your daily water requirements along with helping you with your cough.
Seek professional help if your cough doesn't improve in a week or if it worsens if you have a high fever with chills, difficulty in breathing or ear pain, etc.