This week has brought with it the return of the traditional winter cold…runny nose, headaches, exhaustion and worst of all, a horrible cough. I particularly get caught out with the cough – long after the other symptoms are gone, I am left with the most annoying tickle and cough my lungs up for weeks. A long while ago, after a cold, I had a chronic cough for two YEARS; after eventually having a chest xray, which was clear, I worked my way through steroids and every over the counter cough syrup known to man, but it was only a hefty dose of industrial strength codeine finally killed it. This time around, I want to stay away from synthetic medications as far as possible and try to allow my body to work with natural products and heal gently. (Unless I go mad with the lack of sleep and need a quicker fix! Although I have to be careful with codeine while I am breastfeeding – it has a negative effect on milk supply, which is the last thing I want.)
Ideally I should take my time about getting better and rest at home, under a lovely duvet, with a hot cup of tea or three; but with a 15 month old, a full time job, a house to keep in order, and precious few free weekends left until Christmas, there’s little chance of that.
While the cough is “productive” (sorry for the imagery) I would be wise to let it run its course as there is obviously a good reason for it. It’s when it becomes that stupid tickly dry cough that I need to nip it in the bud, and fast.
I have been investigating alternative remedies for coughs and some surprising answers have come up. Apparently seaweed (specifically Carrageen moss, which is handy since it grows right here in Ireland) is a good remedy for respiratory troubles. Here is a link on how to make a Cough and Cold remedy with it.
Unfortunately I don’t have seaweed around the house and Lidl doesn’t stock it – yet – so I will have to wait until I can get my hands on some to test it out.
Fresh pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme with anti-inflammatory properties, and can apparently suppress coughs much better than cough syrups. It fights infections and kills bacteria, and helpfully also contains nearly 50% of the daily requirement for Vitamin C intake. Plus, it reminds me of my fabulous holiday in Bali a few years ago, so win-win. I juiced one and drank some last night, and while I can’t hand on heart say it cured me just yet, it was tasty and healthy!
Thyme is also said to be good as the extracts from the plant have broncho-dilatory effects – good for that tight, wheezy feeling. Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, which boosts blood flow, and turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties which have been the subject of numerous biomedical studies over the years. Here’s a recipe which includes all three plus the usual favourites of honey and lemon.
I had all that so I brewed up a cup. Word of warning – NOT for the faint hearted! The cayenne pepper is hot. It was not very pleasant at all but I “took my medicine” and managed to get most of it down!
I didn’t cough at all after that (body scared of any more natural remedies?) and fell asleep comfortably. Unfortunately I woke a few hours later with a really bad coughing fit which I just had to ride out (it was midnight and there was no way I was going to go all the way downstairs to do something about it!).
Other than that, I can also try steaming with the addition of essential oils, for example, eucalyptus, peppermint or lavender (this last would also be lovely and relaxing). Here is some information on how they work. I had a lovely hot bath with some eucalyptus oil I bought a while ago for my daughter’s congestion.
Ultimately, the only thing I can do is treat the symptoms and wait out the virus. However, I’m very hopeful that if I treat my body gently I will hurry the process along somewhat!