Oct 29, 2012


     Coughing is a reflex response to anything that interferes with the passage of air to the lungs. In most cases, the cause is mucus secreted by membranes lining the respiratory tract.

    The breathless cough of an asthma attack can be treated with mullein, including the smoke of a burning mullein leaf. When anxiety contributes to asthma, relaxing nervines such as oatstraw, chamomile and lobelia help prevent spasms and coughing. As noted in the section describing bronchitis, dry, hacking, irritating coughs respond well to relaxing expectorants like lobelia and coltsfoot, while wet coughs need more stimulating expectorants such as horehound and elecampane.

    Any cough can be soothed by chewing on osha root  or, especially recommended for smokers, calamus root. When an illness such as a cold or the flu causes coughing, the use of cough-suppressing herbs interferes with the body's cleansing mechanisms, for coughing helps the body rid itself of waste products. In that case, expectorant herbs such as horehound and coltsfoot are effective, for they make coughing more productive. Infection-fighting herbs such as echinacea and the culinary herbs sage and thyme are also helpful, for they help remove the cause of the illness.

   Whenever coughing produces blood or does not respond to treatment and lasts more than a week, it should be checked by a medical professional

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