Q. I’ve had a cold and have been coughing and stuffed up for days. I have read that using nasal sprays can be addictive. Cough medicines are not helping much either. I would prefer some natural approaches that don’t cause rebound congestion. What can you suggest?
A. The usual ingredient in cough syrup, dextromethorphan, is no better than placebo for kids and only modestly effective for adults (Journal of Family Practice, Oct. 2009). Natural alternatives that may provide some relief include tea made of thyme or ginger. Elderberry and Chinese herbs such as Andrographis or Astragalus may also be helpful. We are sending you our Guide to Colds, Coughs & the Flu for more details on these and many other natural remedies.