It is painful to see our little ones cough continuously. Here are some effective home remedies that can help stop coughing. This year my daughter joined a new school and fell sick after a week. New school, new friends and new bugs – Nothing can be done about this. The fever subsided after 2 days but the coughing was severe and I had to take the old fashioned route to stop this menace.
I decided to write this to help other parents looking for remedies without side effects. This may or may not work for your child but no harm in trying.
Honey is thick and viscous in consistency with anti bacterial properties. When consumed, it coats / lubricates the inflamed and irritated mucous membrane. Take a teaspoon of raw organic honey as soon as cough starts. If you do not have a sweet tooth and do not like the taste of honey, try the next remedy.
2. Ginger and Honey
I can personally attest to the effectiveness of this ginger and honey combination to not only stop coughing but also fight against flu germs. As soon as I feel that I am going to get sick, I take a spoon of this and I have saved myself from suffering for the next 5 days.
Take half a teaspoon of honey and shred a small piece of ginger. To make ginger juice in small quantities, either crush it using mortar and pestle or shred the ginger and squeeze out the juice.
Mix the ginger juice with the honey and drink it preferably after food.
When they are sick, small kids end up vomiting their food because of continuous coughing and ginger helps with digestion and vomiting sensation.
3. Ginger Tea
Ginger is an effective cough suppressant and adding it while boiling tea helps to dilate the nasal passages. You can also boil a piece of ginger in water and when the syrup has cooled down, you can drink it. Dilute this ginger water and feed it to little children.
Traditional Indian medicine shops will have dry ginger (/ chukku / sukku / சுக்கு) . Adding it to tea or coffee is effective in clearing phlegm and arresting cough.
Dry ginger has a longer shelf life than regular ginger and it is easily available in powder form. Chukku coffee powder can be purchased from any spice shop in India.
In Tamil nadu, grocery shops will sell a powder called Rajam sukku coffee. This powder has dry ginger mixed with jaggery and other spices. This is a coarse brown powder. Boil water, add this to the water, stir well till it dissolves, add milk and drink this coffee (no sugar needed as it has jaggery). Or you can simply eat a spoon of this powder and it will instantly stop cough. It might be spicy for children so I place just a pinch of it on my daughter’s tongue.
4. Steamed / Boiled garlic
This is my grandma’s remedy for cold and cough. Take a glass of water and bring it to a boil. Add a 3 -4 cloves of garlic and allow it to boil for 5 minutes.
Using a spoon, scoop out the garlic pieces and eat it. You may drink milk with this also.
Boiled garlic will not taste as spicy as raw garlic. This not only stops cough but it can also be an effective method to control cholesterol and diabetes.
My grandma lived a very long disease free life. My father in law is effectively managing his diabetes by consuming 3 cloves of boiled garlic everyday. He got diabetes at a very young age and yet is very rash in his food choices. But he does 2 things right. He goes to the beach everyday for walking and eats garlic before going to bed every night and has managed to keep his diabetes perfectly well.
Please note: Garlic should not be consumed so one can continue eating unhealthy food like my FIL does. I am not suggesting that.
Garlic is also good for the overall health and to develop immunity. Children can be made to eat just one clove of garlic and then drink a glass of milk before going to bed.
5. Steamed Orange
A friend suggested this remedy when I was coughing non stop and was stuck at home for days. It was effective. But the taste is an acquired taste so it may not be for everyone but it is very effective.
Add a teaspoon of salt to boiling water and soak the orange in it for 15 minutes.
Then cut the orange like shown below and steam it in a steaming basket after sprinkling half a teaspoon of salt on it. This step of adding salt is optional and can be avoided for little kids and adults with high blood pressure.
Scoop out the vitamin C rich steamed orange flesh and watch your cough stop like magic. My friend swore by this and I was skeptical but it was effective when I tried it.
6. Salt water gargle
High concentrations of salt drains the congested fluid inside the cells. This osmosis helps reduce the swelling and constriction caused by inflamed cells in the upper nasal passages. Children above 4 years old can be made to gargle warm salt water a few times a day.
7. Turmeric, Pepper and Milk
This is standard cough treatment in all Indian homes. Heat a cup of milk, add a pinch of turmeric powder and pepper powder. The milk will be yellow and slightly spicy but this is one of the best medicines for cough.
8. Cumin seeds and Black Pepper in omelet
I love the saying “Food is medicine and medicine is food”. Powder cumin seeds and black pepper in your coffee grinder (for fine powder) or blender (coarse powder) and store in an airtight vessel. Make egg omelet and sprinkle a pinch of this on the egg and see cough and cold vanish.
9. Food is medicine – Soups, Rasams and Curries
While the body is busy eliminating the bacteria and virus, we can keep the body warm with some warm hearty soup. Rasam is Indian soup that is usually sour tasting because of added Tamarind. Rasam is a digestive aid and bowl of piping hot rasam and a cup of steaming rice is the best comfort food for any south Indian.
Here is the famous south Indian tomato rasam.
If you are taking antibiotics for infection, there is a high probability that your stomach and intestinal lining is inflamed especially in case of little kids. A carrot soup that is rich in vitamin A will help heal the cells. B complex supplements are mandatory if you are taking antibiotics.
Click on links for full recipe
Mixed vegetable soup – crockpot recipe
If you are a non vegetarian, chicken soup (naatu kolli soup) or mutton bone soup (Aatu kaal soup) can be very effective in controlling cough. If you can handle spiciness, google for chettinadu recipes. They are loaded with pepper and can drive out cold and cough in an instant.
Crab heats up the body and provides relief during cold and cough – How to make crab curry Indian style – Grandma’s recipe
Remember the saying “Eat for cold and starve for fever”?. So when you have fever, go for easy to digest vegetarian soups and when the fever is gone by day 2 and you have just cough or running nose, go for non vegetarian soups.
10. Rice Kanji / Rice congee
One of my neighbors used to drink the rice Kanji when she is making rice in a vessel (not pressure cooker).
When water is boiling, she adds the rice and when the rice is almost done, the water will be white and she scoops up a glass of that piping hot drink and drinks it when it is hot. She gave it to me once when I was suffering from sore throat and it was heaven.
For kids rice kanji is the best food when they are having fever, cold and cough. It is easy to digest because it has cumin seeds and garlic and it is also a very filling comfort food.
- Boil 3 glasses of water
- Wash and add a handful of rice to the water
- Add a clove of garlic, a pinch of cumin seeds and salt.
- Allow the rice to get cooked really well. Overcooking will help us mash the rice well and garlic will help kill all the germs in the body.
- Mash everything with a spoon and this can be fed even for babies who are 6 months old and above.
If you are not using a pressure cooker to cook the rice Kanji, you can also grind the rice coarsely in a blender before cooking it to quicken the process.
Rice congee can be made in slow cooker over night. Add about 8 – 10 times the amount of water and you will have perfectly cooked rice porridge in the morning.
Kids get sick due to lack of sleep and increased stress because their immunity level goes down. Sleeping is a good way to combat coughing. Slightly elevate the head using additional pillows if needed and let the sick kid sleep as much as possible. When the body is at rest, it can focus on eliminating the virus. To prevent relapse, wash all bedding and towels that were used by the sick child.
12. Steam and humidity
Using a humidifier in the bedroom or a steam fill bathroom to increase humidity can help ease congested stuffy nose.
Kids older than 6 years old can be trained to inhale vapor to open the nasal passages. This also melts the phlegm and drains it from the sinuses. You can use a steam inhaler if you have one or you can use the traditional method called aavi pudikirathu in Tamil. This is a grandma’s treatment (/ Paati Vaithiyam) for draining the sinuses.
Boil water in a big vessel and keep it on the floor. Floor is preferable for little kids. Teach the child to cover themselves with a bed sheet and bend over and inhale the vapor that comes when a dollop of vicks or few drops of Eucalyptus oil or eucalyptus leaf is added to the water.
Do this only if your child follows instructions and is aware of the risk of scalding if they accidentally or carelessly topple the vessel. It is better to use a broad and short vessel that will not topple easily.
During steaming, the pores in the face are opened and the face sweats. Wipe it and wash face immediately with warm water failing which, we will catch a cold again.
13. Natural lozenges – Palm sugar candy ( Panam Kalkandu) & Palm jaggery (chillu karupetti)
Palm tree products may not be available in all places but this is very effective for dry persistent cough. It is available in traditional Indian medicine shops (Naatu marundhu shops). It is brown in color and resembles sugar candy. When we were little we used to have a few of them in our school uniform pockets to prevent coughing during class. . Pop one palm candy (panam kalkandu) in and keep sucking it till it dissolves completely.
Another palm tree product is Palm tree jaggery (chillu karupetti). This jaggery is made with dry ginger (sukku) and it is another natural lozenge that is more effective than lozenges we get today in medical shops like halls and vicks. These have no side effects whereas halls makes my leg muscles twitch involuntarily even after I stop eating them till my system gets rid of them.
14. Vicks and Socks
We usually apply vicks on chest and back. Apply some on your little one’s feet and then cover the feet with socks and see your kid sleep peacefully without coughing.
If you travel to south east asia, you can buy axe oil from countries like Singapore / Malaysia. Even that can be applied on the feet.
15. Betel leaves and Black pepper
2 Betel leaves, the ones used in paan and wedding thaamboolam when boiled along with 5 crushed black peppercorns in 3 cups of water till the volume reduces to half is an effective medicine for chest congestion and cough. Consume this water with a teaspoon of honey if you find it spicy.
The same can be done with thulasi leaves or Holy basil leaves (Click here for detailed list of health and beauty benefits of holy basil / tulsi plant)