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Get Rid of That Lingering Cough


Your cold disappeared weeks ago—but you’re still coughing. It’s not only frustrating, it’s concerning. Why can’t you get rid of this cough?! The first thing you need to know: The cough usually isn’t due to the infection itself but to its inflammatory aftereffects. Postnasal drip is your body’s attempt to clear out your respiratory tract through a “productive cough.” Or, if you had a virus, it can leave your bronchial tubes sensitive and irritated by airborne substances. A “dry cough,” in which no mucus is produced, is your body’s attempt to get rid of these airborne irritants. So, what can you do? Here, Mark Stengler, NMD, founder and medical director of the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine in Encinitas, California, describes safe, natural ways to get rid of a lingering cough…

Tea and honey always help, but so can the remedies below, which are safe for everyone except as noted. You can try one remedy at a time, but using all of them in combination works best. These natural options work as well as or better than over-the-counter cough formulas and have a better safety record. Children also can take these remedies—in doses that are one-quarter to one-half that of adults, based on their weight.

For a cough with mucus or a dry cough…

N-acetylcysteine (NAC). This amino acid derivative thins mucus so that your body can expel it more easily. Dose: 1,000 milligrams (mg), twice daily.

Cherry bark extract. An extract from black cherry tree bark (Prunus serotina), this expectorant loosens mucus so that it can be expelled. Dose: 500 mg in capsule form or 1 milliliter (ml) of herbal tincture, three or four times daily. It should not be used by women who are pregnant.

Licorice root extract. This herb has a soothing effect on the respiratory tract and also is a cough suppressant. Dose: 500 mg in capsule form or 1 ml of herbal tincture, three or four times daily.

For a dry cough…

In addition to the remedies above, you can take…

Marshmallow root extract. This herb, derived from the marshmallow plant, reduces inflammation in the respiratory tract. Dose: 500 mg in capsule form or 1 ml of herbal tincture, three or four times daily.

All types of lingering coughs can take one to three weeks to disappear. If your cough doesn’t ease up within three weeks, see your doctor.

Source: Mark A. Stengler, NMD, founder and medical director, Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine, Encinitas, California, author of the Health Revelations newsletter and The Natural Physician's Healing Therapies (Bottom Line Books). Date: January 1, 2012 Publication: Bottom Line Natural Healing
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