The 2017-2018 flu season might have set some records for being long-lasting and rough. But even after the flu fades from memory, respiratory tract infections will cause coughs and sniffles, sore throats and sneezes. Over-the-counter cold and flu preparations rarely make sense, but what can you use instead? Some readers are quite enthusiastic about onion syrup as a homemade cough remedy.
Looking for a Good Way to Ease a Cough:
Q. I survived flu season without getting sick, but now I have a terrible sore throat and am starting to cough. I hate the taste of DM (dextromethorphan) cough medicines. What else can you recommend?
A. Flu season is almost over, but some people are still suffering. You may want to get a rapid flu test to rule this out.
Onion Syrup as a Home Remedy for Cough:
If you have a cold rather than the flu, there are several home remedies to control a cough. One is onion syrup. The onion is sliced thin and simmered in sweetened water until it is quite soft, 45 minutes to an hour. Many readers assure us that it is delicious. It does taste rather strongly of onion.
Those who can’t abide onions may prefer ginger or thyme tea. You’ll find recipes for both in our Guide to Colds, Coughs & the Flu. Some kids will do fine with onion syrup, while others will do better with honey or ginger tea.
Drinking Thyme Tea to Calm a Cough:
Q. I had the flu four weeks ago and still have a cough despite taking Robitussin DM. I tried drinking thyme tea this afternoon, and it has calmed my cough. Others might want to know.
A. A post-viral cough sometimes lingers for weeks after all other symptoms of the flu have gone. Calming such a cough can be challenging.
The Value of Thymol:
Experiments show that thymol, an active component of thyme, can reduce the urge to cough and the number of coughs (Gavliakova et al, Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology, June 1, 2013). Many people find that a cup of thyme tea made with a half-teaspoon of thyme leaves and sweetened with honey if desired is a pleasant way to control a cough. You can learn more about this and other natural approaches to calming coughs and recovering from cold symptoms in our Guide to Colds, Coughs & the Flu.
“I found that drinking thyme tea during an active cold thinned and loosened the mucus, making it much easier to cough up. It seemed to do the same for sinus congestion as well.”
Another way you can tap the power of thymol to calm a cough: smear Vicks VapoRub on the soles of your feet at bedtime. Be sure to put on socks, so you don’t mess up the sheets. Thymol is one of the essential oils that give Vicks its distinctive aroma.
Another essential oil in Vicks is eucalyptol.
Glory from California get her eucalyptol in tea she makes:
“I drink eucalyptus tea. Made with 2 or 3 leaves, pour boiling water and steep for 5 min. Let cool some, then drink or add a touch of honey first.”