Hoping To Stop A Bad Cough? 10 Options That Can Help

Coughing is the body’s way of breaking up mucus, clearing airways and getting rid of irritants. As irksome as it may be, it’s actually best to let our body take care of itself and do what it needs to do. But when the throat is painfully raw, or we’re trying to sleep, attending meetings or handling business calls–hacking our lungs out is annoying and we want relief fast!

Here is a collection of ten easy home remedies that I’ve gathered over the years, most are simple to manage as many ingredients are found readily in the kitchen pantry.

If I’ve missed your tried-and-true, please share it in the discussion area below, it might be exactly what someone is looking for :).

Recipes & Remedies

All items marked with * are suitable for adding 1/2 to 1 tsp honey (not suitable for children under one year old due to risk of botulism).

Homemade Syrup

1/2 C. honey
1 lemon (juiced)
1 TBS glycerin

  • Heat lemon juice in a saucepan, remove from heat before bubbles begin to appear. Toss in rest of the ingredients, stirring thoroughly.
  • Pour into sterilized glass jars and seal. Refrigerate.
  • Instructions for use: 1 to 2 tablespoons as required.

Garlic Syrup

  • Good old-time treatment, this stuff tends to be pretty pricey in the organic/natural stores. Here are several different ways for making your own (found at bottom of page).

Herbal Preparation

1 C. boiling water
(strain before sipping)

  • Brew 1 tablespoon dried thyme. Good as a gargle too if treating sore throats.
  • *Alternative: 1 tsp dried basil.

Horehound Medicine

1 oz. dried horehound leaves

  • Pour 1 pint boiling water over leaves and steep for 10 minutes. Strain.
  • Mix 1 1/2 cups of the infused liquid + 3 cups of honey. Pour into sterilized jars, seal.
  • Instructions for use: 1 tsp every 4 hrs (during waking hours). Do not take more than 4 tsp daily.

Simmered Onions

  • Simmer roughly chopped onions in water until soft. Blend onions + honey, consume every four hours.

Another option is to strain out the bits after cooking for about 15 minutes, bottle the liquid. Drink as necessary.

Half ‘n Half Helpers

Choose one then mix 1/2 tsp with an equal part of honey:

  • Ground Ginger. Alternative: Eat a fresh chunk of ginger first dipped into coarse salt (to coat the chunk).
  • Apple Cider Vinegar.
  • Aloe Vera Gel.

*Rose Hip Brew

  • Quite soothing! Mix 2 tsp dried hips per 8 ounces of boiling water, steep for 10 to 15 mins. (sourced from this page).

Garlic Plaster

Prepared the same way as a mustard plaster (which is also something one could try). Replace with minced onion if preferred.

  • Chop the cloves finely, cover with olive oil, mash to achieve a thick paste (about the consistency of sour cream). Spread over fabric and fold so paste doesn’t ooze out. Apply poultice to chest, cover with hot water bottle or a microwavable bag.


  • For relief from dry coughs, a Herbal Decongestant Steam is beneficial.
  • *Hot cuppa tea–a simple trick! Might be all you need to find some reprieve!
  • If it’s chronic hacking that just won’t go away after a few days, visit a doctor since there could be more serious issues going on that require medical attention.

Note: These are simply tips I’ve collected, they’re not professional medical advice.

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    • Tioedong

    and don’t forget chocolate CHOCOLATE, or that coffee or strong tea has caffiene that helps with mild bronchospasm that causes some coughs.

    • kimmy

    When I was young in Denmark, warm milk and honey was used for coughs and colds.
    Another old cure that works; a tablespoon of sugar topped up with vinegar cures the hiccups.

      • Samantha

      That’s what I leaned and I think it works

      • Sharon

      You can also just take a spoonful of sugar and wash it down with water for hiccups.

    • Feast on the Cheap

    I typically rely on the lemon/honey concoction mentioned above. But I’m loving that Tioedong also suggested chocolate. I can definitely get behind that…

    • Esmeralda

    My cough made me feel desperate until I found the solution in Google. Red onion and honey was perfect and I could sleep soundly after a whole week without much sleeping. Thanks, Google!!!

      • denise

      what is your recipe

    • Pauline

    Chocolate works!!!! I needed something hot and steamy to breath the vapors into my stuffy head. Hot chocolate came to mind. I inhaled the steam of the hot beverage, drank the liquid cupful and my sinuses drained and opened…within a half hour.

    • CrissyBarbz

    Thanks guys… I’m at work right now, but I went straight to the pantry and made myself a hot chocolate. As soon as I get home I’ll do the gargles and on my way home I’ll buy a new toothbrush!!!! Thanks!!!

      • Meghan

      Hot Chocolate is great because the steam and heat helps defuse the mucus congestion. I would also try something like Tea, a peppermint Tea works best. Also, if you have astma black coffee will make your astma symptoms so much better. It’s a great thing to use if you feel short breaths coming on, or trouble breathing altogether. Hope this helped even more.

        • Julie

        Thank-you Meghan its really nice to know that there are things you can use and it does not have to be drugs.

    • cheryl

    This is a recipe for cough syrup my mother got from our doctor when I was a child. Not the greatest tasting, but it works.

    1 cup molasses
    1 large onion, thinly sliced
    1 Tbsp. butter

    Cook onion and molasses until onion is glassy. Remove from heat and stir in butter.


    Take as needed for cough.

    • jill c

    Up til I moved to a dry climate, I had bronchitis most of my life, once or twice a year. I always craved a sauteed onion and it seemed to break up the mucous. I cooked it in butter, but I guess you could cook it in oil as well.

    • BMotor63

    When I was young my mother would chop up an onion and sprinkle with sugar and cover it. By the next day there would be juice. She would give me 1 tsp. every little while to calm my cough. Believe it or not I really liked the taste so there was no fight! 🙂

    • kritika

    my homemade recipe for cough is black tea, with ginger, garlic, black pepper, basil,clove, cardamom & lemon tea grinded & added to black tea. This really works. Also drinking warm water every night before going to bed.

      • Jothindra

      Ha! The good old ‘Kashayam!’ Hey! It really works. I remember when my child was 1 year old, no decongestent, prescribed by the doctor, worked. My grandmother just went around a playground and came back with a few herbs. Made a concotion out of it and lo! the relief was almost immediate.

    • Kathy

    I had to add this to your list. For the unbelievable cough. 1/4 tsp red pepper, 1/4 tsp ginger, 1 T apple cider vinegar, 1T honey, 2 T water. Put in jar and shake before sipping each time. Spices does not dissolve. OMG it works.

      • Ramona

      Thank you Kathy! I tried your recipe and was finally able to sleep last night. And it even tasted good – maybe because I was so relieved!

    • Melly

    Tablespoon with garlic glove, glycerin & apple cider vinegar.. Chew, gargle, swallow. Tastes horrible, but does work.

    • Jo

    If you have a cough and want to sleep try rubbing Vick vapour rub on the arches of your feet before getting into bed…some put socks on some don’t ..what ever want to do..this is also good for children……. If you have a cough try to avoid dairy products as they cause mucus

    • SJ

    You can make a cough mixture with:
    1 bottle of brandy
    1 or 2 bunches of thyme
    about a cup of honey
    Mix the honey into the brandy and put the thyme into the mix(with stems) leave it in the brandy bottle and keep it away for at least 2 weeks. Prepare it about a month before the flu season. Use as needed. I’m not sure about exact abounts used because my mum used to make it when I was little and we never needed it recently (got the stronger stuff, but this is a good and naturalish alternative that really works), if I get the exact amounts i will post it

    • Addy

    My mother-in-law always made her home remedie cough med for bronquitis and it worked fast. Her recepie is: Aloe, Honey, Lemon Juice, and Star Anise. If not mistaking she would boil the Anise in water for a while then use that water to make the cough med. she would blend it all together and give me this mixture beleive it or not it works wonders.

    • jb

    My mother-in-law swore by onion juice for a cough .. especially if it was going into the chest. Layer sliced sweet onion with 1/2 teas of sugar between layers. let this draw and take the juice when needed, about a tbsp. each time . it sure cleared up my kids coughs — but couldn’t get too close for a kiss.

    • mary

    By chance is our m-i-l available to ask the quantities of each that she used? I get bronchitis several times a year. And am fighting a bad case at the moment. Greatly appreciate it efforts to obtain.

    • sharon

    I have also found over the years… sleeping on my back helps with the cough better than sleeping on your side or stomach.

      • STEPHANY

      A friend gave me this recipe fresh ginger or ginger tea with raw honey lemon & cinnamon made into a tea drink through out the day it works

    • tinkerbell

    My mom was told by a nurse at my doctors office when I was little to mix equal parts honey, lemon juice, and whiskey together and take a tablespoon as needed. This was the only thing that made my cough go away. It was gone within about 30 minutes.

    • Lulu

    When I was a child, I had a cough so bad I was keeping the whole family up, and we lived in a huge house, so it was bad! I remember my dad getting me up and giving me a single dose of moonshine, with honey and lemon juice in it. That was over 50 years ago and I’ve never known anything else to work as quickly or as effectively. You can substitute the moonshine with vodka (I think the way they both burn going down cleans mucus off the vocal chords and throat), and the dose he gave me was a half filled shotglass.

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