Do you have a favorite cough remedy? You could presumably carry cough drops around in your pocket for an emergency. Some people do. But others prefer a natural cough remedy. That is what this reader discovered.
Candied Ginger as a Natural Cough Remedy:
Q. Some time ago I had a horrible coughing fit at my bank. The teller, an Indian woman, motioned for me and handed me a couple pieces of candied ginger from her purse. It worked immediately and now I keep some handy for anyone needing it to quell a cough.
A. What a tasty cough remedy! Research dating back to 1984 shows that a compound in ginger, (6)-shogaol, is at least as effective as a codeine compound in fighting a cough (Journal of Pharmacobio-Dynamics, Nov., 1984). More recently, scientists have confirmed that this compound can also fight fever, pain and inflammation (Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology, Aug., 2013).
A recent study identified a different compound, a glucan found in the ginger rhizome (root) that stopped experimental coughs in guinea pigs (Phytotherapy Research, Jan., 2016). The investigators prepared this compound through a traditional water-extraction process, suggesting that ginger root tea should be just as soothing for coughs as we have always believed. They concluded that ginger can provide “antitussive [cough-suppressing] activity without addiction.”
Ginger as a Cough Remedy for Kids:
We have frequently recommended ginger tea or honey as a cough remedy for children, rather than drugstore remedies. It seems that candied ginger combines some of the properties of both, and is highly portable besides. Just as with cough drops, though, the sweetening can act like candy and should be taken in moderation.
You can learn more about natural approaches to seasonal coughs from respiratory infections in our 8-page Guide to Colds, Coughs & the Flu. For more details about ginger and the research behind its use, you might instead turn to our new book, Spice Up Your Health: How Everyday Kitchen Herbs & Spices Can Lengthen & Strengthen Your Life.