Clearing that Cough
Strangely, coughs may be good for us
The cough reflex is actually quite a healthy thing, designed to prevent us from choking by clearing debris from the respiratory tract.
When people give up smoking, for example, or if they are exposed to an abnormal amount of airborne debris such as that experienced when living in a city, the lungs will attempt to rid themselves of the accumulated toxic material by initiating muscular spasms that project the material upwards. A bacterial or viral infection may also initiate a cough, as the body attempts to remove the dead cells and waste matter left behind after the fight between the immune system and the germ.
Sometimes, though, things go wrong
The problem with what is, therefore, a useful tool for keeping us healthy, is that some coughs are ineffective and we continue coughing irritatingly without improving the condition of our respiratory tract at all. This might be due to the continued presence of the irritant (such as tobacco smoke) or the very viscose nature of the material the body is trying to shift. Thick, treacle-like substances, left behind by tobacco inhalation, may be almost impossible for the body to break up and bring up. Additionally, when a cough has been present for a while, the lining of the respiratory tract becomes inflamed and easily irritated, so more coughing can be triggered by very mild and innocuous irritants.
You need to take firm action
- Keep your immune system strong by taking a dose of Echinacea if you are prone to coughs and colds in the winter.
- Use a remedy that soothes spasm in the respiratory tract without weakening the ability of the body to expel foreign matter. A herb well known for its beneficial action is Ivy. Clinical trials have shown it to work well for coughs, particularly those associated with thick mucus. (ESCOP Monograph, 2003, p241-247). (Children who have persistent coughs should be taken to a doctor.) In addition, Thyme is known to help expel mucus, benefiting both coughs and catarrhal conditions.
- Sucking a lozenge or taking a throat-calming syrup will coat a raw or inflamed throat, making it less reactive to irritants.
Try pine syrup or lozenges
Vogel recommended chewing pine buds to eliminate catarrh and to prevent frequent infection with colds. Pine bud syrup has been made for centuries, as pine buds were known to be full of healing properties. Sweetened with honey, the remedy was good enough to tempt children to feign a cough in order to get a dose! The fresh sap pressed from spring buds and shoots of Norway spruce contains aromatic substances, terpenes and resins, which soothe the bronchial tubes and alleviate tickly coughs.
Please remember that anyone with a persistent cough should be taken to the doctor for a proper diagnosis. Coughs can indicate serious respiratory problems and should never be ignored.