How do you calm a cough? We’ve heard about numerous home remedies for this common problem. One reader surprised us recently with a way to stop a stubborn cough that we had never encountered before.
Traveler’s Remedy for a Stubborn Cough:
Q. I traveled once with a dry cough that, when triggered, wouldn’t quit. A lady sitting next to me on the plane pulled out a clove of garlic from her purse and told me to break the skin with my thumbnail, then inhale the garlic aroma.
It was amazing to feel the cough subside within minutes. I use this treatment now and share it with others all the time.
Why Would Garlic Calm a Cough?
A. What a fascinating story! Garlic contains pungent compounds, allicin and diallyl disulfide, that activate TRPA1 channels (Bautista et al, PNAS, Aug. 23, 2005). These transient receptor potential (TRP) channels on nerve cells can trigger a cough (Grace and Belvisi, Pulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, June, 2011). Other foods that trigger TRPA1 channels include cinnamon, mustard oil and wasabi (Grace et al, British Journal of Pharmacology, May 2014).
When they are overwhelmed, these TRP channels may also generate feedback that would calm a cough. This might explain why your unusual home remedy works so well for a stubborn cough.