Coughing can worsen the quality of life and sleep. Fortunately for us, nature offers powerful natural remedies that calm coughs, are anti-inflammatory and at the same time help to thin the phlegm, if present, and expel it more easily. Today we are talking about herbs, syrups and infusions that can be useful, helping to free us from that sticky mucus in the throat, from that phlegm and that cough that do not let us breathe and live better.
Ivy, the remedy for cough and phlegm
Infusions, extracts and syrups based on ivy leaves, Hedera helix, have been shown to act as expectorants and antitussives. This action is due to the presence of saponins, especially alpha ederin, which are anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antispasmodic, bronchodilator and help to free excess mucus (Song et al, Yonsei Med J, 2015). A study showed that a blend of herbs in which the main ingredient consists of ivy leaves and enriched with thyme, anise and marshmallow reduced the symptoms of dry cough, bronchitis and respiratory tract disorders with viscous mucus formation in less than two weeks (Buechi et al, Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd, 2005). You can prepare the ivy infusion in this way. Bring a glass of water to a boil, remove from heat and add a teaspoon of dried ivy leaves, leave to infuse for ten minutes, then filter and drink up to three cups a day. Ivy is generally considered to be well tolerated and only rare cases of mild to moderate side effects such as gastrointestinal problems, nausea and diarrhea are reported (Barnes et al, Adv Integr Med, 2020).
Hypertonic saline solution against cough and phlegm
The hypertonic saline solution can be sea water or a solution given by salt and water. The use of similar products, which can be purchased in pharmacies and can be used to make aerosols, helps to thin and therefore expel mucus more easily (Li et al, Biomol Ther (Seoul)., 2020).
Common violet, a powerful ally against cough
Common violet, or Viola odorata, generally taken in the form of syrup that can be found in chemist's and herbalist's shops, is a valid remedy in case of cough, even that related to asthma (Qasemzadeh et al , J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med, 2015). Also the great French herbalist Maurice Messegue recommends, for the treatment of cough, infusions of common violets, to which you can add mallow, that reduces the inflammation of the mucous membranes, thyme, which is anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and helps to calm coughs, borage, which is anti-inflammatory, soothing and expectorant (Maurice Messegue, Il mio Erbario - Schoenknecht et al, Wiad Lek, 2016 - Monari et al, Plants, 2022).
Licorice, the remedy with expectorant properties
Syrups and licorice infusions can help against cough and phlegm. In fact, it has been observed that these products contain high percentages of two active ingredients of licorice, such as liquiritin apioside and liquiritin, capable of reducing the frequency of cough up to 60% and facilitating the expulsion of phlegm thanks to their expectorant properties (Kuang et al, Bioorg Med Chem, 2018). If you want to make licorice tea, get the root from a herbalist's shop or drugstore. Bring 2 grams of root to a boil in a cup of water, simmer for three minutes, then remove from heat and let it rest for another ten minutes, then filter and drink between meals. Be careful if you suffer from hypertension or are taking drugs to control blood pressure, even licorice tea can indeed induce an increase in blood pressure (Brouwers et al, Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd, 2001).