Even if you get your flu shot, sleep a solid seven to eight hours each night, and wash your hands religiously, there’s a good chance you’ll still come down with a cold this Winter — and with it, a nagging cough. (After all, by a certain point in cold and flu season, places like your office are literally crawling with germs.)
While most doctors agree that your best line of defence is an over-the-counter cold medicine, as well as nasal irrigation systems and lozenges, they also recommend some more natural methods for soothing a cough.
Here are five that, while not as ironclad as a medication, get the expert stamp of approval.
While the research is mixed, some studies have found honey to be as effective as a cough suppressant, at least when treating a cough in children. “Mixing a small amount of honey with water and lemon or lime juice and sipping that prior to sleep may help coat the throat and reduce coughing overnight,” Brett Singer, RD, CSSD, LD, a sports dietitian at Memorial Hermann Hospital’s IRONMAN Institute in Houston, told POPSUGAR.
Research suggests green tea may actually help prevent viral and bacterial infections, like the kinds that bring with them a nasty cough. Plus, “drinking hot tea is a good way to stay hydrated when you have a cold, and adding honey can also reduce the symptoms of cough,” said Garbo Mak, MD, a pulmonologist with Memorial Hermann Hospital and the University of Texas Health Science Centre at Houston.
The steam from a humidifier can help ease cold symptoms by shaking loose the gunk in your sinuses. “For my patients with cough illnesses, I always recommend using a humidifier to possibly bring relief and ease congestion,” said Jennifer Boozer, DO, a clinical assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.
“Warm fluids such as soup or hot tea are great options to consume when you have a cough, as they provide a moist environment to help loosen congestion similar to the feeling you may get being around a hot shower,” Singer said. Try some classic chicken soup (your mom was right).
Pineapple juice contains an enzyme called bromelain, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help ease cold symptoms such as a cough, at least when used alongside cold medications. “This also falls into the general recommendation of making sure you’re eating a high quality diet with a diverse array of foods,” Singer said.