What Is a Cough?
A normal cough is perfectly healthy. It is your body's way of removing foreign particles and phlegm from your throat, and clearing your lungs and upper air passage. A regular, productive cough should not be avoided. However, some coughs are severe and persistent enough that they may prevent sleep or impair your ability to breathe. For these types of cough, it is important to know how to naturally treat them.

Coughing occurs when the nerve endings in your airways become irritated. Usually this happens when you've inhaled a foreign contaminant your body doesn't like, such as smoke or pollen. Certain medical conditions and medicines may also cause chronic coughing as well.

Allergies may also cause coughing as well. If you notice yourself coughing immediately in a certain environment or in a certain season, you may have an allergy. Talk to your doctor about identifying and avoiding these potential allergens.

Coughing may also be caused by the common cold, a viral infection in the upper respiratory tract. In some cases coughs area sign of more serious infections. If you are experiencing symptoms of a full body chill or fever alongside a long lasting, chronic cough, you may have a more serious lung infection like bronchitis. If your cough is chronic and violent, or you are producing a lot of off colored, foul smelling phlegm, you should contact a doctor immediately.

For those who have the common cold and are experiencing chronic coughing, there are some natural alternatives to chemical cough syrups.

Natural Remedies
The chemicals in cough syrup often attempt to mimic nature's own remedies. Here are a few of the original natural cough remedies.

You may be aware of mentholated cough syrup. What you may not know is that menthol is an active compound in peppermint and eucalyptus. The menthol in peppermint leaves acts to break down mucus and sooth the throat, soothing the itch from coughing. Common ways to intake peppermint are peppermint tea, or by inhaling the vapors of a steam bath including peppermint leaves or peppermint oil.

Honey has been a traditional cure for sore throat for centuries. In fact, a study found on Pubmed.gov found honey to be more effective than a common cough supressant. The study compared the effectiveness of honey and dextromethorphan at treating nocturnal cough and sleep difficulty in children. Parents rated honey as the most effective choice. Honey can be taken with an herbal tea, or just simply added to warm water.

Pineapple may actually be an effective cough remedy. This is due to the fact that it contains an enzyme called Bromelain. Bromelain can help loosen the mucus in your throat and suppress coughs. Though there has been little scientific research to support the claim, some claim that Bromelain can be used to alleviate sinus issues. This would reduce coughs and mucus for those who had allergies. Bromelain is sometimes used to treat inflammation and swelling.

A common kitchen herb like thyme may not be the first thing in your arsenal, but some studies are saying it should be. One such study found that treatment of acute bronchitis with a combination of thyme-ivy for about 11 days was superior to placebo in a double blind study. The leaves contain compounds known as flavonoids, which lessen inflammation and help to relax the throat muscles, alleviating coughing. Steeping two teaspoons in a cup of boiling water for ten minutes can provide you with a good dose of these flavonoids.

Probiotics may also be of aid in your cough. Probiotics are the microorganisms which inhabit cultured foods. Though they don't directly cure the cough, they can provide a large amount of benefit for your immune system by balancing the flora in your intestinal tract. Though probiotics are found in yogurt and dairy milk, these should be avoided when you are sick, as your body has an inflammatory response to milk, and actually creates phlegm in response to dairy consumption. If you are already full of phlegm, adding more is not the answer. Instead try fermented foods suck as raw sauerkraut, coconut kefir, or isolated probiotic tablets.

Marshmallow may also be of benefit to you during cold season. No, not the puffy white kind. The herb Althaea officinalis, common name marshmallow, has been used since ancient times to treat coughs and sore throats. The marshmallow herb contains mucilage, which coats the throat and soothes irritation. Common ways of intaking are in teas using the bark and leaves. Marshmallow is not recommended for children.

Preventing coughs starts with empowering your immune system to fight off the bacteria and viruses that cause them. If your cough is due to an allergy, identifying what you are allergic to may help you avoid those allergens and therefore alleviate symptoms. If you do have a cough, using natural cough solutions may be right for you if you are trying to avoid chemical cough medications.

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Author's Bio: 

Brian Wu graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology and Neurobiology. Currently, he holds a PhD and is an MD candidate (KSOM, USC) in integrative biology and disease. He is also an experienced writer and editor for many prestigious web pages. Brian values the ability of all ages to learn from the power of stories. His mission is to write about health conditions, educational topics and life situations in an entertaining way in order to help children understand their own life conditions and daily circumstances.