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German Cold & Cough Remedy Works Great!

Old fashioned cough and cold remedies containing the herb thyme may work surprisingly well against coughs and colds. There is some science behind thyme.
German Cold & Cough Remedy Works Great!
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European cold and cough remedies have won converts when U.S. visitors travel to the continent. There could be a reason for this success.

Q. When I was in Europe last month, I caught a cold and developed an awful cough. Luckily, a German pharmacist understood my sign language and sold me a miracle cure that cleared it up in a few days.

The medicine is Makatussin and it contains “Thymianfluidextrakt” and “Sternanisol.” It comes as drops to be put on a sugar cube or in tea. It worked so much better than the Robitussin DM I usually use that I would like to find something similar here. Is there a medicine like it?

A. Makatussin contains extract of thyme and star anise oil. The German government has approved both herbs for colds and coughs.

We know of no similar medicine available in the U.S. You could, however, make yourself a tea with thyme leaves, approximately one half teaspoon per cup, and a piece of star anise. You can buy this spice where Chinese groceries are sold.

Scientific Research on Thyme Against Coughs:

Polish scientists writing in the journal Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica (March-April, 2015) note that a popular syrup called Bronchosol contains a “dense” extract of thyme and primula root (primrose). They noted that in their in vitro experiments this thyme-containing cough medicine had strong antibacterial and anti-fungal activity. They conclude:

“The confirmation of the antimicrobial activity of Bronchosol provides an explanation of its effectiveness in the therapy of respiratory tract infections.”

Several other studies suggest that thyme has benefits against upper respiratory tract infections and coughs. It has certainly been our experience that tea made with dried thyme leaves and a little honey can calm a troublesome cough. A semi-retired dermatologist shared this amazing success story about thyme tea against a cold.

Here are some other stories from visitors to this web site:

“Simple chicken soup helps cure colds (chicken, an onion, two cloves garlic, two celery stalks, two carrots, parsley… a little pepper). Now I’ll add a bit of sage and thyme. Yum. Thanks for the information about soothing a cough and / or cold. Maybe that’s where the song came from…. Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme…. remember me to the one who lives there. She once was a true love of mine. Oh sorry, I’m rambling.”

-Chicken Soup & Herbs

“Another powerful home remedy for cough and other cold symptoms is to drink a turmeric milk: boil in a cup of milk a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Drink this 3 times daily.”

“I don’t know about everyone else, but when my family or I have a cough, its 1-2 tsp of honey as needed. I have been using this for about 3 years now and it works better than any over-the-counter “cough remedy.” In the rare case it doesn’t work as well as I want it to, I apply Vicks VapoRub on the soles of my feet…How It works? Who knows… but it does!”

“I have a friend from Africa who sucked a slice of raw ginger for a sore throat and cold, a common remedy in his country. You can dip it in granulated sugar to make it more palatable, but it works. I really thought that he would have to see a doctor but he was well within 2 days.”

We are sending you our Guide to Colds, Coughs & The Flu, which offers other natural approaches for treating colds and coughs. Anyone who would like a copy can download it here. And if you would like to read about other remedies for coughs, colds and flu you may find our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies of great value. It makes a great gift this time of year!

Revised 1/28/16

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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