Get Quick Relief With These Natural Remedies For Dry Cough

by Shaun Dmello, expert review by Dr. Pratik Bhoite, M.D. (Ayu), M.S. (Couns.&Psy.)
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Clinically described as a non-productive cough, a dry cough does not produce any mucus. In most cases, a dry cough is caused by viral infections and allergies. This type of cough is best treated with lifestyle modifications and natural dry cough remedies.

To most of us, a dry cough is nothing but a minor annoyance that we ignore. Unfortunately, when a dry cough does not resolve quickly, it can be a cause for significant discomfort, even disrupting sleep. In most cases, a persistent cough is caused by mild infection or exposure to airborne allergens. So, what can you do about?

When dealing with a dry cough, natural methods of treatment are most effective as they provide quick relief at practically no cost. More importantly, they pose little to no risk of side effects. But before you dive into those natural dry cough remedies, let’s take a quick look at the symptoms and possible implications to rule out anything more serious.

In most cases, a dry cough is simply indicative of temporary irritation or a minor respiratory infection. At times however, it can also be the underlying symptom of another health condition. When persistent and inexplicable, possible dry cough causes may include the following:
Sinusitis: The sinuses are small, air-filled cavities behind the cheekbones and forehead. Sinusitis occurs when these passages get inflamed or infected, occasionally resulting in a dry cough.
Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): Gastro-esophageal reflux occurs when contents of the stomach, including stomach acids, start to move back up the esophagus. When these acids travel beyond the upper esophageal sphincter they also irritated the pharynx and larynx, causing inflammation and soreness of the throat that can produce a dry cough.
Asthma: Although typically associated with breathlessness and wheezing, in some cases asthma may only cause a non-productive or dry cough. This is described as cough-variant asthma, in which coughing spasms can surface at any time of the day or night, but are most often triggered by exercise and exposure to airborne allergens.
Pneumonia: A dry cough is a common pneumonia symptom, caused by inflammation and irritation of the respiratory passages. It is also accompanied by other symptoms like chest pain when coughing, fever, and fatigue. You could also experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and shortness of breath.
Interstitial Lung Disease: Interstitial Lung Disease is an umbrella term for over 200 different types of chronic lung diseases. These conditions cause damage to the air sacs (alveoli), increasing stiffness and reducing their capacity for expansion. All forms of interstitial lung disease cause impairment to breathing, which is likely to trigger shortness of breath and dry cough.
Tuberculosis: A chronic coughing can also be a result of tuberculosis (TB) – a potentially life-threatening infection that mainly affects the lungs, but can spread to the kidneys, spine or brain. A hacking cough is the primary symptom of tuberculosis and you may also notice specks of blood in your phlegm and experience difficulty breathing, as well as severe fatigue.

Simple Home Remedies for a Dry Cough

While there are plenty of dry cough remedies out there, not every natural treatment is effective. Here are some of the best natural dry cough treatments that are supported by research.

Ginger tea with honey

Spicy Ginger Tea

Ayurveda: Often referred to as vishwabhesaj in Ayurveda, ginger truly is ‘the universal medicine’. According to Ayurvedic specialists, ginger decreases Vata and Kapha, while increasing Pitta, helping relieve a variety of respiratory disorders. The use of ginger for dry cough treatment is highly recommended, as it doesn’t just reduce phlegm, but also relieves inflammation.

What Does This Mean For You?

Pour yourself a cup of hot and spicy ginger tea. This herbal tea packs a punch and will leave you feeling a lot better in no time.

How To:

Ingredients
  • Ginger
  • Water
  • Honey (optional)
 Recipe Instructions
Add 2 tablespoons of freshly shredded ginger to a glass of water. Use a saucer to bring the water to a boil and let it steep for at least 15 minutes. Allow the water to cool down a bit and add honey to sweeten it. Drink this at least twice or thrice a day to get relief from a dry cough and to promote healing.

Homemade Honey Cough Syrup

Ayurveda: Honey is one of the most widely used ingredients in Ayurvedic medicine and with good cause. Referred to as ‘madhu’, the ingredient is used both as a flavoring or masking agent, and also as a medicinal ingredient in itself. In fact, one of the most widely prescribed Ayurvedic medications for a dry cough is Talisadi churna mixed with honey.

What Does This Mean For You?

Ditch the OTC cough syrup and reach for your jar of honey. You can bet that a honey cough syrup will soothe your throat and give you some respite.

How To:

Basil Concoction

Ayurveda: Holy basil, better known to most Indians as Tulsi, is regarded as the most sacred plant in any herbalist’s arsenal. The use of this herb is not restricted to religious rituals however, and it has also been used to increase ojas and prana, concepts that relate directly to immunity and energy. Tulsi is therefore a staple ingredient today in most Ayurvedic cough syrups, cough suppressants and expectorants.

What Does This Mean For You?

If that annoying cough has left you praying for divine intervention, holy basil just might be the answer to your prayers. So, get off your knees and head to your kitchen cabinet now!

How To:

Ingredients
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Basil essential oil
  • Water
 Recipe Instructions
If you’re pressed for time, you can simply chew on some fresh basil leaves or take tulsi capsules for quick relief. At other times, you can add a handful of basil leaves to boiling water and steep for 15 minutes.

In addition to ingesting basil, as described above, you can also use basil essential oil for steam inhalation. Just add a few drops of the oil to basin of boiling water and inhale the steam.

Turmeric Milk (Golden Milk)

Ayurveda: Popularly referred to as haldi across the Indian subcontinent, turmeric has been used in traditional medicine by Indians for millennia. Ayurvedic specialists believe that in addition to balancing your doshas – vata, pitta, and kapha, it also has a positive effect on rasa and rakta dhatu (the circulatory system). Traditionally, this ingredient has been used in combination with milk or ghee to treat a dry cough or sore throat.

What Does This Mean For You?

It’s time for you to pour yourself a glass of warm turmeric milk. This simple dry cough remedy provides quick relief and it can also help treat some common throat infections.

How To:

The Onion Juice Remedy

Ayurveda: Although the intake of onions is generally restricted in Ayurveda, it has also long been recognized for its therapeutic value. Onion consumption increases ushna veerya (the fire component), acting as an appetite stimulant and energy booster. It normalizes Vata, while increasing Kapha and Pitta. For this reason, the use of onion for dry cough relief can be effective, provided it is used in moderation.

What Does This Mean For You?

Whether you can brave onion breath or not, this might be a good time to try out an onion cough remedy. Besides, it seems like a fair trade off!

How To:

Ingredients
 Recipe Instructions
Extract raw onion juice and mix with an equal amount of raw honey. Allow the mixture to stand for at least 3-4 hours before using. You can have a tablespoon of the concoction thrice a day.

If you cannot wait for 3 hours or more, you can also make an onion broth by boiling raw onions in water.

Aloe Vera Mixture

Ayurveda: Referred to as kumari in Ayurveda, Aloe vera is believed to help balance all 3 doshas and is useful in the treatment of diseases caused by Pitta aggravation. Although most commonly used in the treatment of skin conditions, it has wide range of medicinal uses and can also help in the treatment of a dry cough.

What Does This Mean For You?

You’ve tried it on your skin, so maybe it’s time to test it on your throat. You can be sure that it’ll pass with flying colors, providing quick relief from the hacking and throat irritation.

How To:

Ingredients
 Recipe Instructions
Possibly the simplest of all home remedies for a dry cough, an aloe vera mixture for dry cough relief only requires a glass of aloe vera juice and a teaspoon or two of honey. Add the honey to your glass of aloe juice, mix well, and you’re good to go. You can drink this twice or thrice a day.

Peppermint Solutions

Ayurveda: An herb that can be found in almost every Indian kitchen, pudina or peppermint has long been a part of the Ayurvedic tradition. Helping normalize the flow of prana vayu through the body and reducing the buildup of ama, practitioners of Ayurveda recommend pudina for dry coughs, as well as wet coughs.

What Does This Mean For You?

It’s time to try some menthol meds and no, menthol lights are not a suitable delivery mechanism. You can try steam inhalation using peppermint oil or simply reach out for some peppermint drops. As an added bonus, your breath will be minty fresh!

How To:

Ingredients
  • Peppermint oil
  • Almond oil
  • Essential oils (peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary)
 Recipe Instructions
Mix a few drops of peppermint oil, along with a carrier oil like almond oil, and apply this across your chest. For something more powerful, try using peppermint steam inhalation. Add a few drops of peppermint oil to a bowl of boiling water and inhale the steam for a few minutes. You can add eucalyptus and rosemary oils to the water, but this is optional.

As a first resort, if you find boiling water to be too tedious, you can also suck on some peppermint candy or peppermint lozenges for quick relief. Just make sure that they don’t contain too much sugar.

Eucalyptus Steam Inhalation

Ayurveda: Often described as ‘Nilgiri taila’, in India, eucalyptus occupies an important position in Ayurvedic medicine. It has a heating energy that helps to lower Vata and Kapha, while increasing Pitta. The oil of eucalyptus is recommended as a remedy for dry coughs because of its effectiveness as a decongestant that also promotes vitality.

What Does This Mean For You?

It probably won’t cure Ebola or protect you from SARS, but you can be sure that it will make your throat feel a hell of a lot better. In addition to providing symptomatic relief, eucalyptus oil could also help treat the infection, depending on the underlying cause of your dry cough.

How To:

Ingredients
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Salt
  • Water
 Recipe Instructions
Instead of doing the usual saltwater gargle, add a pinch of salt and 2 drops of eucalyptus oil to a glass of warm water for your gargle.

Apply a few drops of eucalyptus oil to your palms and gently massage your throat and upper chest.

Steam inhalation is perhaps the most effective method of delivery for quick relief. Simply add 2-3 drops of eucalyptus oil to a bowl of boiling water and inhale the vapor.

Yoga For Dry Cough Relief

The addition of any physical activity to your daily routine will offer cardiovascular benefits, which means that they also strengthen your respiratory tract. Nevertheless, no exercise is more effective at promoting respiratory health than the practice of pranayamas or yogic breathing exercises. Authors of the study “The effect of various breathing exercises (pranayama) in patients with bronchial asthma of mild to moderate severity” go so far as to suggest that breathing exercises or pranayama should be included as a part of regular anti-asthma therapy. They based their recommendation on visible improvement in lung function during the course of the study.

How To:

Parting Advice

While these natural Ayurvedic treatments for a dry cough are extremely effective, they need to be used consistently for the best results. In addition, avoid or limit exposure to irritants such as smoke, dust, and other pollutants. If you spend a considerable amount of time commuting in a large city, it would also be a good idea to use an anti-pollution face mask when travelling. So, the next time you feel that hacking cough coming on; instead of digging into your medicine box, just reach into your kitchen cabinet for a quick fix!

In case your condition does not respond to natural treatment or deteriorates further, please make sure to seek help from a qualified doctor.

References:

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