The People's Perspective on Medicine

Spices for Unexpected Cough and Cold Relief

Sage, thyme and ginger can offer surprising cough and cold relief.

When half the people you know are sniffling, sneezing and coughing, you might want something for cough and cold relief. As it turns out, you won’t need to make a trip to the drugstore. You can probably get unexpected relief by using spices you already have in the kitchen.

Cough and Cold Relief from the Spice Rack:

Q. I have listened to Dr. Tieraona Low Dog on your radio show describe the benefits of thyme and sage teas for colds and coughs. As a physician myself, I have found the results nothing short of amazing. Adding ginger for congestion has also worked for my friends and family. Please share the recipe for others.

A. Dr. Low Dog is one of the country’s foremost experts on the scientific evidence behind herbal therapies. In her book, Healthy at Home, she notes that “Thyme is definitely my go-to acute cough syrup because it works quickly, tastes great, is very safe, and costs so little to make.”

Here is her recipe:

Add two tablespoons dried thyme to one cup near-boiling water and steep for ten minutes. Strain and add one teaspoon of lemon juice and one-half cup organic honey. Take one tablespoon as needed. Store in the refrigerator.

Thyme has been a traditional cough remedy for a long time. One reader wrote about a German remedy for cough and cold relief.

Learn More:

You will find this recipe along with advice on onion syrup for a cough in our book, Spice Up Your Health: How Everyday Kitchen Herbs & Spices Can Lengthen & Strengthen Your Life. 

Candied ginger is another easy and effective approach to cough and cold relief. Spicy? You bet. But some people have found a way to calm a cough with an even spicier remedy: cayenne pepper in tea.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Hoarhound grows abundantly here in New Mexico and has a strong traditional history for cough relief. As a tea it works well for us. A little citrus and honey helps with it’s strong taste.

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