All of the above add up to a fair amount of depressing news about cough medicine, and it comes straight from the medical community. The bottom line: Medical management of cough doesn't seem to be all that effective, and might carry health risks.
Natural options are out there - some with research to back them; others whose merits are based on clinical observation and/or sheer experience. The point is that the majority of people have taken cough syrup and/or cough drops at least once; how many have tried natural cough remedies? With the release of the ACCP guidelines, the message seems clear: When it comes to treating the common cough, it's time to think natural. Talk to your doctor for more information.
Four Ways To Treat Your Cough Naturally
1 An October 2005 study suggests that North American ginseng extract can be a safe and effective natural remedy for treating colds and cold-related symptoms, including cough. According to the researchers, ginseng "appears to be an attractive natural prophylactic treatment for upper respiratory tract infections."
2 Zinc may relieve cough and other cold symptoms, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Subjects recruited within 24 hours of developing symptoms of the common cold were administered a single zinc lozenge (12.8 mg zinc acetate) or placebo every two to three hours while symptoms were present. Duration of cough in the zinc group was 3.1 days per person, compared with 6.3 days in the placebo group.
3 Dr. Edward Schulman, an American Thoracic Society representative on the ACCP cough guidelines committee (the ATS endorsed the guidelines), recommends drinking plenty of fluids and eating chicken soup to help get rid of the common cough. According to Schulman, cold-related coughs generally last less than three weeks.
4 Andrea Candee, author of Gentle Healing for Baby and Child ... A Parent's Guide, says the anti-inflammatory properties of onion and honey can help relax coughing spasms and soothe irritated tissue. Both are antimicrobial as well. Thyme also can be combined with honey to make a natural cough syrup, says Candee. Thyme has antimicrobial properties and is a natural expectorant.
Peter W. Crownfield is the executive editor of To Your Health. Direct all comments and questions to