How to Shift That Cough That Just Won't Go Away.


I am not concerned when I see a cough that is productive and only sticks around for a couple of days; and in addition, is clearing progressively in a positive direction. But then there is that stubborn cough. It is never pretty when you are hacking away while out for lunch with a friend or at a meeting and people look at you like you have the plague. You try and persuade them you are in fact not contagious anymore but they still inch their chair away from you.

Apart from being embarrassing its also exhausting and as a parent when you see your innocent child's small body shaking as they  are coughing up their lungs, it breaks your heart... (especially when it interrupts the illusive good nights sleep).

I personally stay far away from cough suppressants as they are linked to a host of terrible side-effects ESPECIALLY in young children. Just as a good example, in 2008 that more than a dozen cough medicines were taken off the counter and placed on the prescription only list due to adverse and life- threatening side effects. EEK!

Instead my points of call for a cough are as follows:

1. Stop consuming all sugar, dairy and gluten.

Immediately. Pronto. We have a direct reflex from our mucous membranes in our stomach to our mucous membranes in our lungs. Therefor what we are putting in our guts will be having a DIRECT effect on how our lungs are working. Try it out; consume a food group from one of the above and notice the irritation to the GIT will  start you coughing.

Slippery Elm powder or Aloe Vera juice can help heal minor irritations going on with your stomach, which I recommend to address if you are finding your cough hard to shift.

2. Soothe and protect the lungs with herbal medicine and homeopathics. 

Herbal dispensary

Some of my favourite herbs for coughs are:

  • Liquorice- demulcent and expectorant, especially when also suffering from bronchitis
  • Mashmellow-demulcent and anti-inflammatory also healing to irritations with the GIT. Great for irritating coughs that produce mucus.
  • Wild Cherry Bark-I always add this one as it tastes nicer than most herbs and is a beautiful soothing herb to work synergistically with other cough herbs, especially for stubborn coughs.
  • Elencampagne- antispasmodic and also an expectorant. Great for dry, irritating coughs, especially in children.
  • Mullein- demulcent and expectorant great for dry or productive coughs, especially when they cause pain.
  • Thyme-antispasmodic, demulcent and antitussive, great for stubborn coughs with sore throats, running noses and whooping cough.

And Garlic, Echinacea or Sundew for immune boosting. There are great ready made herbal cough syrups available in health food stores but I think if you have a stubborn cough its well worth seeing a Naturopath to get a mixture made up specific to your symptoms and not to have when pregnant or breastfeeding without professional supervision.

I think its worth seeing a professional homeopath but in Europe this challenged my thinking somewhat when I saw homeopathics readily available in every chemist. You can always try! Some homeopathics that can be used to treat a cough:

Aconite: Dry, worse at night, sudden onset, sometimes barking like. 

Bryonia: Dry, painful chest, worse with eating.

Rumex: Irritating cough like a dry tickle in the back of the throat, usually worse at night. 

Hepar Sulph: loose croupy cough with yellow thick mucous.

Kali Carb: for either loose productive cough with bronchitis or conversely a dry, tickling cough. Worse in the night between 2-4am and may cause the patient to vomit or have stitching pains in the chest on coughing.

Ipecac: Spasms of coughing may follow with vomiting or feeling like you will vomit. 

Pulsatilla: From an allergy , asthma or head cold. Loose and rattling with green or yellow expectoration.

3. Boost your immune system so the body can heal itself.

Vitamin C, Zinc and probiotics are the basics that can  help to do this. You may also increase your consumption of foods such as garlic, ginger, turmeric for natural antibacterial and immune boosting support.

4. Drink high amounts of warm water

and warming fluids such as liquorice, peppermints or ginger teas. 


If you have had a cough for an extended period its worth exploring if you are being irritated by an external influence. Examples could be mould, dust mites, medications such as blood pressure meds, anti-depressants or reflux medication.

It is also interesting to note that our lungs are related to fear and grief.

Is there something deeper that you or your child is not addressing? (or perhaps you may just need to throw away your pack of cigarettes!)