Dr Tim Ballard, the vice chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, explained why your GP is unlikely to ever prescribe over-the-counter cough medicines: “The medical evidence behind cough medicines is weak and there is no evidence to say they will reduce the duration of illnesses,” he said.
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Which might well leave you wondering what you can take that’ll ease your cough. Here’s the lowdown.
Best natural cough remedies
Lemon is a good source of vitamin C, although not the best (red peppers and kiwis contain more, gram for gram) and vitamin C has been found to shorten the duration of cold symptoms.
Find out more about vitamin C
You can buy lozenges or syrup containing zinc and either will reduce the time you suffer with a cold, if you take it within the first 24 hours of feeling unwell, according to a research report from health-research review the Cochrane Collaboration.
Find out more about zinc
This is recommended for everything from a cold to the flu and for good reason: drinking plenty of fluids is key to getting rid of any virus and soup is good for that, it’s hot so keeps your body warm too, and research from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, USA, revealed that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties which would explain the effect.
|More advice from Dr Mark Porter...
Ginger is another anti-inflammatory and drinking ginger tea, like eating chicken soup, increases your hot-fluid intake, which also helps your body overcome the illness.
Find out more about ginger
Garlic or onion
Both garlic and onion are naturally anti-inflammatory and so it makes sense that they would help to reduce symptoms of a cold or a cough, many of which such as blocked nasal passages and a sore throat are a result of inflammation. You may not even need to eat it – inhaling the fumes of onion may also help ease your symptoms.
Find out more about what inflammation
Honey for tickly throats
It’s a natural antimicrobial and so may well help your body fight off an infection. It can also help soothe the feeling of a tickly throat when you’ve got a cough. Finally, it also acts as an expectorant, helping your body to bring up phlegm.
Find out more about honey
The best natural remedy of all and often overlooked. If you fail to drink enough water – in the form of plain water, in tea, juice and soups – you will struggle to get better. Fluids help your body flush out the virus and soothe inflammation and also thin phlegm. Water is the closest thing to a miracle medication when it comes to coughs and colds.
Find out how much water you need
NB Consult your GP if you are taking other medications before taking any other drugs, vitamins or herbal remedies.
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