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Surprising Cough Medicine from Kitchen Cupboard

Surprising Cough Medicine from Kitchen Cupboard

Q. Last month I had the flu for a couple of weeks with a lingering cough. Before I got better I caught a cold, and at the end of the cold, a cough returned that was much worse than the cough I had with the flu. It was the sort of cough that made my whole chest vibrate.

One evening I was coughing so badly I was afraid I would not be able to sleep. I tried everything I could think of: hot fennel tea with honey and lemon, cough syrup with codeine and tea made from fresh ginger. None of this was any help.

Finally I remembered hearing about sage. Scrounging in the kitchen, I found an old jar with dried sage in the bottom of it; I suspect it had been there for two or three years. I made tea from the sage, drank one cup, and the cough stopped! I was astonished!

The next day I bought some fresh sage and made tea from it for the rest if the week. It kept the cough under control until it was gone. Now I keep a bag of dried sage leaves in my kitchen cupboard all the time–just in case!

A. Sage has a long history as a healing herb, but scientists have not been able to confirm most of the benefits attributed to it. It does have a lot of tannin, which could make it useful as a gargle for sore throats.

We’d not heard before of sage as a cough remedy, but we’re glad it worked. There is some concern that one of its constituents may be toxic over a long period of time, so it is probably best to use it only occasionally, as needed.

Another kitchen spice that can help calm a cough is thyme. Use a teaspoon per cup and allow it to steep between 5 and 10 minutes. Sweeten with honey and add lemon to taste if you wish.

For more remedies that can help calm a cough you may find our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies, helpful. In addition, there are lots of practical, affordable simple treatments from the kitchen to help dozens of ailments.

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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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