Though coughs can strike any time of year, during colder weather, when adults and children spend more time in close contact indoors, they seem to strike with much greater frequency.
And they can come in many forms… dry, wet, hacking, spasmodic, and more.
With so many limits on over-the-counter drug options, particularly for young children, it's good to know that there's a safe, gentle, and effective natural option — homeopathy!
Below you will find a list of remedies often called for when a coughing bug strikes. Carefully read about each remedy and try to find one that seems to best describe your cough.
Bryonia: A person needing this homeopathic remedy (made from a plant) tends to have a dry, hard, racking cough with very little expectoration that tends to worsen at night, from eating and drinking, and from being in a warm room. It is also worse from motion and from breathing deeply, better when lying perfectly still. The person needing this remedy may hold their side or head (if a headache is present) when coughing to relieve the pain felt when coughing. They also tend to have dry lips and mouth and are very thirsty for large quantities of fluid at long intervals.
Causticum: Those needing this homeopathic remedy (made from mineral sources) often experience a dry, often exhausting cough with very difficult expectoration. In fact, any mucous that can be brought up is so thick and sticky that it cannot be brought all the way up and must be swallowed. The patient also tends to endlessly scrape and hawk in futile attempts to bring something up. Hoarseness is common with a raw, sore feeling in the throat. Cough may be excited by a tickling in the throat pit. Cough is worse bending forward, stooping, in cold air and when becoming warm in bed and better from drinking cold water. Cough may also be worse from evening till around midnight and only on lying down. There may also be involuntary urination with the cough.
Drosera: A person needing this homeopathic remedy (made from a marsh plant) often has a deep, spasmodic, whooping, choking, barking cough with fits coming in quick succession. The cough can be exhausting and is caused by a tickling feeling in the throat and is often worse from talking, drinking and at midnight or later. There may also be hoarseness.
Hepar Sulphur: Someone needing this homeopathic remedy (another mineral remedy) can have a deep, dry cough or a barking cough with rattling – but difficult expectoration (whatever expectoration there may be comes during the day but not at night). The cough will often sound wet in the morning and dry later in the day. This patient is worse from the least cold air (cannot bear to have any part of the body uncovered for it brings on the cough), from drinking cold water, and before midnight (a bit like Causticum) and better from heat and warm moist air. This cough can literally sound as if it is suffocating.
Kali carb.: Those needing this homeopathic remedy (another mineral remedy) often experience a dry, violent, racking cough with gagging. The mucous coughed up is often sticky and can fly from the mouth when coughing. It can also have a sour taste. The cough is worse from 2:00 AM-5:00 AM (particularly 3:00 AM), breathing deeply and becoming cold – and may be accompanied with stitching pain from the chest to the back. The person feels better sitting up and leaning forward.
Phosphorus: A person needing this homeopathic remedy (another mineral remedy) often has a tight, dry, exhausting cough. The patient will often crave cold drinks – even though the cold water may aggravate the cough. They are worse talking, reading aloud, laughing, and eating, in cold air, walking from warm air to cold, during a chill, lying on the left side and back, evening until midnight and after rising in the morning. They are better sitting up and in open air. A bit of hoarseness is common.
Pulsatilla: Someone needing this homeopathic remedy (made from a flowering plant) will tend to have a loose cough during the day with thick, bland, yellow to yellow-green expectoration (that can have a bitter taste). The cough is typically worse on inspiration. The cough is typically dry at night. It is often caused by an itchy, tickling dry feeling in the airways. The person is thirstless, weepy and clingy with the cough. They are worse in a warm room, getting warm in bed, lying down, in the evening and after exerting themselves and better sitting up, and in cold or open air.
Rumex: A patient needing this homeopathic remedy (made from a plant) will have a seemingly continuous dry cough, especially after waking. The cough may prevent sleep and seems to be caused by a tickling feeling in the pit of the throat. In fact, pressure on the throat pit will often stimulate the cough. The person is worse talking, going from warm air to cold or vise versa, becoming cold, at 11:00 PM and when breathing in cold air.
Spongia: Someone needing this homeopathic remedy (made from a saltwater sponge) will experience a barking, rasping, dry cough which is croupy in nature. It will sound like a saw being driven through a wooden board. The person needing the remedy may wake from sleep with a sense of suffocation and anxiety. They are worse from a cold dry wind, lying with the head low, lying on the right side, before midnight, talking or singing, drinking cold fluids, and feel better eating and drinking warm things and from open air.
Remember... The essential element to choosing the correct/helpful remedy is ALWAYS the same. One must match the characteristic symptoms of the patient to a remedy capable of producing similar characteristic symptoms to have success. If you choose a remedy with characteristics most similar to the characteristic symptoms of the patient, you will have a happy outcome every time. If you don’t, one will either feel no effect, or an effect that is mild at best.
How to dose:
Dose with either a 30C or 200C potency to start by placing one pellet under the tongue or one pellet in water, stirring vigorously and taking teaspoon doses as needed. Always cease dosing when relief begins and only redose if symptoms again worsen. As with any medical condition, consult with your physician if you have any concerns about the severity of your illness as it may first require medical diagnosis and/or intervention and monitoring.
About Dr. Lisa Samet:
Dr. Lisa Samet N.D. provides Washington Homeopathic Products with a regular column on using homeopathy for the family. She's a naturopathic physician who specializes in homeopathic medicine and she's a partner with Dr. Andre Saine N.D. Dr. Samet graduated from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1998 and has been practicing in Montreal since then. She was born and raised in New York.
Dr. Samet has chosen to focus on homeopathy because in her experience it is the deepest healing modality available in that it does not just soothe or palliate symptoms but can actually stimulate the body to start to heal itself. Dr. Samet sees patients in her Montreal office as well as long distance using Skype. Learn more here: Dr. Lisa Samet. You can follow her on Facebook as well.