Here you’ll find a deep dive into the best herbs for coughs and congestion. These solutions are mostly natural and kid-friendly. If any illness persists, consult your health care provider.
Dealing with a cold is terrible. But having a child come down with a cold? Most parents would happily take on an illness rather than put their kid through the breathless nights of hacking, sneezing, and stuffy noses.
No, we can’t take up sneezing on their behalf, but herbs can be the next best thing. Use nature’s medicine and you can give that cold virus a quick and natural nix. And they’ll only be healthier for it!
Here are some effective natural remedies and herbs for coughs and congestion.
Soothe Scratchy Throats With Demulcents
Runny noses can leave our throats coated with sticky phlegm that doesn’t want to be coughed up. Herbal demulcents are rich in mucilage. As the name suggests, mucilage is a slimy mucus-like substance. Gross as that may sound, these properties make it a pro at soothing and protecting wee scratchy throats.
Demulcents: Licorice root, marshmallow root, cinnamon, plantain, and fenugreek are all natural herbal demulcifiers that work well for the average child.
Demulcify With Cough Drops: Make your own kid-approved lozenges using Bulk Herb Store’s recipe for herbal cough drops. If you need something that can be made with 2-5 minutes of handy work, take a spin off of Coconut Mama’s coconut oil cough drops. This recipe makes cough drops simple by mixing equal parts raw honey and virgin coconut oil, plus cinnamon. You can increase the effectiveness by adding in powdered demulcents, or you can make a strong herbal concoction (super-strength tea). If you don’t have an herbalist or an herb blog to pester, you can determine safe dosage using Clark’s Rule or Young’s Rule.
Stifle Sniffles With Decongestants
When we get a cold, our body jumps to our defense by producing mucus to push out pesky viral invaders. This extra thick mucus often provokes extra blood to go to the nose, giving us congestion plus inflammation. Offer a humidifier and prop him up with pillows to help his nose from stuffing up.
Herbal Decongestants: Some of nature’s star decongestants are peppermint, spearmint, eucalyptus, ginger, oregano, and thyme. If kiddos are struggling to sleep, don’t forget that you can pair your favorite decongestants with steam from a vaporizer, humidifier, or a hot shower (the steam will help thin out mucus).
Decongest With DIY Vapor Rub: Clear up stuffiness by making your own all-natural vapor rub. If you’re crafty, you can pull out your spare beeswax and shea butter. Or you can take coconut oil from the kitchen and mix it with essential oils safe for young children for an instant chest rub. Infants can have their vapor rub applied to their feet to get the benefits without irritating their sensitive baby skin.
Conquer Coughs With Expectorants
Sometimes we’re coughing too much. Other times we’re so phlegmy, we can’t cough enough. If you and the kiddos are in this boat, get herbal aid from expectorants. This class of herbs will help to loosen and break up mucus so that the lungs and throat can be cleared up as quickly and easily as possible.
Expectorants: Make the most of your cough by using ginger, honey, cayenne (for older kids), elecampane, onion, and the super-effective (and slightly annoying) mullein.
Expectorify With Electuaries: Chances are, you’ve never heard of electuaries, but they may become your new favorite cold “treatment.” First, do some math to determine proper herb dosage based on your child’s age or weight. Then, stir a dose of herb into honey to make a thick paste, and SHIZAM! Instant herbal medicine! Herbal electuaries are about as easy as home remedies get, and they appease even the pickiest of eaters because it can be added to anything from toast to tea. Super-charge your electuary by adding raw honey’s powerful health benefits. Unless, of course, you have an infant. In that case, your electuary could sub honey with mashed banana or baby food.
Help Stop Sickness With Antivirals
Thorough hand-washing and antiviral essential oils are a great way to reduce and prevent the spread of germs. Of course, once we catch them, the only way out is through. But before you run off to the doctor, you should know that doc can write up a prescriptions to treat bacterial infections, but viruses are the culprit behind the cold and flu.
The only way out of a viral infection is through it, so this is the time to power up the immune system. Nature’s antivirals are a huge help with cold and flu because they vamp up the body’s defense system so that it can take on microscopic invaders, or even interfere with viral activity.
Antiviral Herbs: Deal with the effects of colds and the flu with immune-boosting herbs like ginger, garlic, echinacea, elderberry, olive leaf, oregano, calendula, and astragalus root. Olive leaf oil and black elderberry are especially magical. Rose hips are another excellent addition because they’re exploding with the vitamin C used for white blood cells and antibodies.
Amp Up Antibodies With Elderberry Syrup: Black elderberry (sambucus nigra) has exploded into health food stores because of it’s immune benefits. You could buy pre-made elderberry syrup, or you can make your own elderberry syrup. All it takes is dried black elderberries, raw honey, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon (or your own antiviral herbs of choice).
This syrup is a mom’s best friend, because it turns a dose of medicinal black elderberry into a deliciously sippable syrup. Of course, this recipe is a no-go for babies because of the honey, but they can sub the syrup for antiviral garlic oil. Clinical herbalist Steven Horne recommends treating babies herbally by rubbing garlic oil on their feet, focusing on the areas where the little toes and foot meet. Buy it online, or make your own garlic oil at home.
Now that you’re stocked up with herbal arsenal, it’s time to consider special herbal consideration and the special needs of each kiddo. When it comes to the best herbs for coughs and congestion, these options are a safer options than many drugs, but they’re still powerful medicine. It’s a really good idea to talk with an expert herbalist, or at least browse a legit herbal blog or read an up-to-date book on the topic.