The Best Home Remedies for Dry Cough to Get Fast Relief (Backed by Research)
A persistent dry cough is a frustrating and irritating health condition. The dry, hacking cough is different to the kind of “chesty cough” you get with the flu or the common cold, as a dry cough doesn’t produce any phlegm. Because of this, a dry cough is sometimes referred to as a non-productive cough. Some of the most common reasons for a persistent cough that won’t go away are irritation in the respiratory tract, asthma, allergic reactions, chronic bronchitis, or heartburn. Even stress can give you a dry cough because breathing becomes shallower and it triggers a cough. However, some people develop a habitual cough for no reason at all.
Coughs are the body’s natural reflex actions to get rid of mucus and other irritants from your airways. There are many natural home remedies that you can use to help get relief from a dry, lingering cough. For example, some natural remedies like honey or aloe vera juice help to soothe the airways and suppress the coughing reflex. Other ways to treat a hacking cough is to use ingredients like ginger or turmeric for their anti-inflammatory properties. Even a salt gargle can help to get rid of a persistent cough by helping to kill off infections in the back of the throat.
In this article, you will find many natural home remedies to soothe the irritation that causes persistent coughing and alleviate the tickling sensation at the back of your throat.
The Best Home Remedies for Dry Cough
Let’s look at some of the best home remedies to help get rid of an irritating dry cough.
Honey is one of the best and most effective remedies for relieving dry cough. Honey is great for your health in general, but the soothing effect of honey on the throat helps to reduce irritation in the respiratory tract and helps to suppress the coughing reflex. Honey also contains many antibacterial and anti-inflammatory compounds that help to cure viral and bacterial infections in the airways which can help to soothe a sore throat.
Research into the healing properties of honey has shown that it is an effective natural cough syrup. The Journal of Family Practice reported that a spoonful of honey is as effective as dextromethorphan, a common drug used in cough suppressants. The journal said that in most of the cases, using honey to cure a cough was an effective natural remedy. Unlike over-the-counter cough medications, honey can help to relieve coughing without any side effects.1
To use the soothing effect of honey for quick relief from a dry hacking cough, take 1-2 large teaspoons of honey 3 times a day to get relief from coughing and get rid of the tickly itch in your throat.
Honey is also a natural remedy if your child can’t sleep because of a persistent dry cough. Professor of medicine, Dr. James M. Steckelberg recommends giving children age 2 and over up to 2 teaspoons of honey before bedtime. This can help to suppress fits of coughing and let your child get a good night’s sleep.2
Persistent coughing can lead to more irritation in your throat, and honey is a wonderful natural healing remedy to help relieve a tickly cough and the discomfort it causes.
Turmeric contains powerful healing properties and because of its therapeutic activity, many people call this yellow spice the “Spice for life.” Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin which can help to treat a wide range of health problems. The anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin can also give you relief from a dry, tickly cough.
For example, a dry cough is one of the symptoms of bronchial asthma. Scientists discovered that curcumin effectively helped to reduce inflammation in the airways and reduce asthma-related coughing. In the study, taking 500mg of curcumin daily helped to reduce the symptoms of wheezing, breathlessness, coughing, and it also improved sleep patterns.3
You can make a cup of soothing turmeric tea to help reduce the symptoms of a dry cough. All you need to do is boil a cup of water in a pot. Add one teaspoon turmeric and a pinch of black pepper (adding black pepper helps curcumin to be absorbed into the body). Boil for 2-3 minutes. Take the turmeric liquid off the heat and allow to cool down in a cup. While the turmeric tea remedy is still warm, add a spoon of natural, raw honey (adding honey to very hot liquid destroys its medicinal properties). Drink the turmeric cough remedy 2-3 times a day to get relief from a hacking, dry cough.
If you are interested in other ways to use the healing power of turmeric, you will find delicious smoothie recipes in my article about the best ways to optimize turmeric for its super health benefits.
Ginger is another excellent natural remedy to soothe irritation caused by a dry, itchy cough. Similar to turmeric, ginger works to reduce inflammation in the airways caused by irritants and allergens.
Chronic dry coughing is one symptom of asthma. Researchers published information in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology showing that anti-inflammatory compounds of ginger like gingerols and shogaols help to relax membranes of the respiratory tract. The end result is that ginger helps to alleviate asthmatic coughing. Because it helps to soothe the airways, ginger can be used to help cure and relieve the symptoms of a dry cough.4
It is very easy to make a calming ginger cough syrup to help soothe your persistent dry cough. This home remedy uses a combination of ginger, onion, and honey to create a therapeutic natural cough syrup. Here is how to make the cough remedy:
Syrup recipe to relieve cough and sore throat
4 tbsp. quality honey (Manuka honey is the best honey)
1 onion, chopped
3 cm fresh ginger, grated
Pour the honey into a bowl and add the chopped onion and grated ginger. Leave the mixture overnight or at least for 6 hours. During this time the active ingredients in the onions and ginger will be released and absorbed in the honey.
Take a teaspoon of the natural dry cough remedy (you can remove the onion and ginger) every couple of hours to help clear the mucus and soothe your irritated throat.
Using ginger is just one way to soothe a tickle that can develop into a dry cough. Please read my article about home remedies for a tickle in your throat to find out more recipes on how to relieve coughing naturally.
Gargle salt water
If the dry, recurrent cough at the back of your throat is caused by an infection, use a salt water gargle to get relief. Salt is a natural antibacterial agent that can help to kill off bacteria and viruses that cause infection so it can be helpful in curing cough.
Using salt to cure a cough caused by a throat infection isn’t just an old wives tale. Dr. Sorana Segal-Maurer on WebMD says that a salt water gargle can help to flush out viruses in the throat that cause infection.5 Gargling with salt to get rid of the infection can provide relief from a dry, scratchy throat.
You can make a simple salt water gargle by mixing 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 tsp. salt in an 8 oz. glass of warm water. Use the salt water gargle every time you need to get relief from a scratchy, dry throat. You can also use sea salt and water as an effective home remedy for chest congestion.
Aloe vera juice
Aloe vera is a simple home remedy to relieve a dry, hacking cough. Aloe vera is well-known for its therapeutic activities on inflamed, burned skin. However, aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory properties can also help soothe irritation in your airways to reduce bouts of dry coughing. Aloe vera juice is very healthy as it contains many minerals, enzymes, and vitamins.
Research carried out in China found that aloe vera syrup can help to reduce the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This disease causes symptoms similar to heartburn and can be the root cause of a persistent dry cough. The researchers found that taking aloe vera capsules twice a day helped to reduce the symptoms associated with GERD.6
Drink aloe vera juice to help reduce irritation in your throat and get rid of a dry, scratchy cough. You can add some aloe vera juice to warm water and drink to help relieve recurrent coughing. Alternatively, aloe vera juice makes an excellent gargle for soothing an irritating tickle in the throat. Read some precautions regarding drinking aloe vera juice in my article about the health benefits of aloe vera juice.
There are many health benefits to using more garlic in your diet. In fact, garlic is one of the best natural medicines for dry cough because it contains natural antivirals and antibiotics that can help treat a wide range of health issues. Garlic is also a natural anti-inflammatory, which makes it an excellent home remedy to soothe irritation and scratchiness caused by sore throat.
The Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine discussed the therapeutic benefits of using garlic and it found that garlic is “a useful compound in the treatment of arthritis, toothache, and chronic cough”.7
To get the full medicinal benefits of garlic as a natural cough remedy, it is important to use it properly. Garlic is best taken fresh because allicin, the main antibacterial compound of garlic, loses its healing properties when it is heated.
To help soothe a dry, hacking cough using garlic and honey, you should mince one clove of garlic and let it stand for 10 minutes. This gives time for the allicin to synthesize properly. Mix the minced garlic with a large spoon of honey and consume it. Do this 2-3 times a day to help kill off any infections that are causing a persistent cough and get relief from the irritation caused by a scratchy, dry throat.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV)
Another simple, yet effective home remedy for an irritating tickle in your throat that causes a cough is raw unprocessed apple cider vinegar. This home remedy can be especially effective if your dry cough is caused by heartburn because ACV is one of the best natural remedies to reduce heartburn.
The acetic acid in ACV naturally kills off germs that can cause infections. Apple cider vinegar has also shown to be helpful in alleviating the symptoms of GERD and heartburn.8
To reduce coughing that is caused by heartburn, drink raw apple cider vinegar diluted in water. Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of ACV to a glass of water and drink it before meals to help prevent heartburn and alleviate its symptoms.
Alternatively, you can make an apple cider vinegar gargle to kill germs that cause a hacking cough. Mix 3 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper in a cup of warm water and stir well. Use the mixture to gargle 2-3 times a day to get relief from a dry, continuous cough.
Chocolate or raw cocoa for a persistent cough
Consuming chocolate is a natural (and delicious) way to get fast relief from persistent coughing. Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine which can help to reduce inflammation in a person’s airways. A study into the effect of theobromine on coughing found that it is useful in treating asthma and other respiratory tract problems.9
Doctors at WebMD reported that theobromine in chocolate helps to suppress the nerve that is responsible for the coughing reflex. Unlike other cough suppressants which can cause drowsiness, theobromine doesn’t have any negative side effects.10
Dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content contains the most amount of theobromine. To help alleviate coughing at night, make a delicious cup of hot chocolate using dark chocolate or raw cocoa powder. If you use raw cocoa powder, add some honey to help sweeten the hot chocolate drink and boost its cough-relief properties.
Alternatively, you can try consuming a piece of dark chocolate to calm the coughing reflex and avoid having a coughing fit. You’ll also enjoy the many other health benefits of dark chocolate.
Licorice root can help to stop dry cough thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. The anti-inflammation effect of licorice can help to reduce irritation in the throat that causes coughing fits. A study published in 2013 found that licorice lozenges helped to relieve cough in smokers that suffered from sore throat after operation.11
To make a licorice anti-cough tea, you will need 2 tablespoons of dried licorice root. Put 8 oz. of boiling water in a mug, add the licorice root and cover. Let the licorice root steep in the hot water for 10-15 minutes. Drink 2 times a day to alleviate your dry cough symptoms and reduce irritation in the back of your throat.
If you also have a build-up of phlegm that is causing congestion and a hacking cough, you can use the licorice tea to ease congestion and thin mucus.
Inhaling steam helps to reduce inflammation in your respiratory tract and helps to get rid of a dry or a chesty cough. You can add essential oils to the steam inhalation to increase the antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory effects.
Some of the best essential oils to help get rid of a dry cough and clear up congestion are:
To use steam to make you cough less and get rid of an irritating tickle in your throat, this is what you should do:
- Put boiling water in a bowl and add up to 3 drops of tea tree oil and up to 2 drops of one of the other essential oils.
- Put a towel over your head to trap the steam.
- Breathe in deeply for 5-10 minutes
- Repeat the process 2-3 times a day until your coughing fits have gone completely and you no longer have a tickling sensation in your throat.
Another great herbal tea for relief from incessant, dry coughing is thyme. Apart from containing antimicrobial properties, thyme helps to relax the cough reflex.
A study in Germany into the therapeutic effects of thyme on coughing found that drinking herbal tea with thyme and English ivy leaves helped to reduce coughing fits and get rid of congestion. This remedy proved to be helpful in patients with acute bronchitis.12
To get rid of a dry cough and soothe irritation in your throat, make a thyme tea. All you have to do is put a handful of fresh thyme in a cup of boiling water and let it steep for 10-15 minutes. If you don’t have fresh thyme, then use 1 tsp. dried thyme per one cup of water. Remember to keep the cup covered while the herbs are infusing. Drink the thyme cough remedy 2-3 times a day to reduce the frequency of coughing.
Pineapple juice is a natural remedy for a dry, persistent cough. The beneficial effects of pineapple juice in reducing fits of coughing are thanks to the action of a powerful enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain acts as a natural anti-inflammatory to suppress bouts of coughing.
Researchers found that pineapple juice can help to reduce the symptoms of bronchial asthma, one of which is a dry, lingering cough that doesn’t go away. They found that by regularly drinking pineapple juice, patients’ symptoms of coughing, build-up of mucus, and wheezing were greatly reduced.12
If you would like to find out more about the health benefits of incorporating more pineapple juice in your diet, please read my article on how to use pineapple as a medicine.
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