Holistic Health Kids Thrive

A Complete Guide of Remedies for Coughs

Boy blowing his nose
Written by Allyson McQuinn

Coughing is the practical way that the body tries to rid itself of a pathogen or irritant in the lungs. Dust, pollen, influenza, pertussis, and even bacteria or viral pneumonia will irritate the lungs, activating our innate drive to rid the body of invaders and clear the bronchial passages. Coughs can actually launch about 3,000 tiny droplets of saliva and sputum a couple of metres, away from your body at astonishing velocity; about 60 miles, or about 100 kms per hour. An average cough will fill a two litre bottle almost 3/4’s full with air.

My own son was born almost two months premature which meant that his lungs were not wholly developed when he arrived. He was always susceptible to lung infections. In fact, every time he cut a tooth in the first two years of life, he’d spawn a ferocious cough that turned into pneumonia, landing him in the hospital on a course of very strong antibiotics. As a result, his overall health and immune function was diminishing.

If you’ve read my book, The Path To Cure; The Whole Art of Healing, you’ll no doubt understand how frightened and frustrated I was with a strong desire to solve his issues outright. His suffering is one of the main reasons I came to this system of medicine over 20 years ago, and why I’m writing this resource article for you.

Coughs in children can be really annoying, keeping your babe and you up at night. It is frustrating to see our children suffering, feeling powerless to help them. Most coughs can more easily be dealt with naturally, using the remedies I’m about to illustrate throughout this article. However, if your child is complaining of chest pain, they’re uncharacteristically exhausted, they stop urinating at regular intervals, or their face or lips are slightly blue, then it is time to take them to the hospital.

As a parent, you may already intuit that most over-the-counter medications for coughs are virtually useless. Even physicians at Harvard University cite, “According to American College of Chest Physicians guidelines, many of the active ingredients in over-the-counter cough remedies are ineffective.”* Maybe you’ve typically opted to wait your child’s cough out until it subsides on its own. However, there is much you can do naturally to help resolve their suffering and sup-port their healing, enabling you all to get a good night’s restorative sleep.*Source: http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/cough-medicines

Homemade Cough Syrup

Homemade Cough Syrup is a great way to help resolve coughs while also providing comfort to your child. We use a teaspoon of honey, coconut oil, and lemon in hot water, letting it dissolve and then cool down to a comfortable temperature. Lemon is very high in vitamin C, with anti-viral and antibacterial properties. Honey also contains antiviral assets and anti-mucus properties, while providing nutrients like calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, and natural fluoride that repair tissue and promote healing. The coconut oil contains antioxidants and lauric acid, helping to boost your child’s immune system naturally.

Thyme Tea Gargle

Thyme Tea Gargle is a well-known European solution for coughs, upper respiratory infections, bronchitis, and whooping cough. Steep two teaspoons of crushed thyme leaves in a cup of boiling water. Allow this pleasantly “woodsy” mixture to cool and encourage your child to gargle or drink this tea. You can add some honey and/or lemon if you wish to make it more palatable for a child, while at the same time adding more healing power to the mix.

Steaming with Himalayan Salt and Essential Oils

Steaming with Himalayan salt and essential oils is a great way to break up stubborn chest infections with much dry, spasmodic coughing. My children recall draping their heads over a very warm pot of just-boiled water with a couple of tablespoons of sea salt or Himalayan salt plus an essential oil or two. You can use a warm steam vaporizer in a baby’s room with distilled water (to avoid mineral deposits from building up and corroding the vaporizer), along with a tablespoon of Himalayan salt in the water (see manufacturers directions) and eucalyptus essential oil in the external “medicine tray”, to loosen up adhered phlegm in the lungs.

The salt and essential oils such as tea tree, peppermint, and spearmint, have natural antiviral and antibacterial agents that promote healing. For babies, you can lay them safely on the floor while you take a hot shower, steaming up the bathroom to soothe airways and loosen phlegm in their throat and lungs. Never use chlorinated or fluoridated water for this purpose unless you install a unit on your shower that prevents these known neurotoxins from becoming airborne and inhaled by baby, or anyone, for that matter. Personally, I’m not a fan of cold air vaporizers as they left my own child worse off, chilled and shivering one night during a bout of high fever, however, it is entirely your choice.

Nin Jiom Cough Syrup

Non Jiom Cough Syrup is an ancient Chinese herbal cough syrup that is very effective at soothing coughs. It has a eucalyptus-like smell with a molasses-like taste that kids generally love. Follow the directions on the bottle that suggest making a tea-like concoction with boiled water. Nin Jiom can be purchased in many health food stores or ordered online.

Homeopathic Cough Syrup

Homeopathic cough syrup is another route to go if you want to resolve your child’s cough. Hyland’s makes a good one with 100% honey, however, you should choose one that resonants with you. If the remedies in these formulas do not contain the rx that is the similimum to your child’s individual disease state, these syrups won’t hit the mark. Please don’t fault homeopathy as this form of “polypharmacy” is a best guess for your child’s suffering, enabling you to obtain about a 20-30% efficacy rate. Below, we’ll help to increase the cure rate by helping you to be more accurate with the right remedy.

Ricola Cough Drops

Ricola cough drops are excellent natural herbal based lozenges from Switzerland for older children. You can dissolve a single lozenge in hot water, let it cool and offer it to your younger children. Be sure not to buy the drops with aspartame as it is a known carcinogen and neurotoxin. If it is for diabetics, there are safer, more resonant sweeteners like stevia and chicory root available.

Natural Licorice

Natural licorice found at health food stores is a good cough remedy. It helps to soothe inflamed and irritated throats and air passageways. Just slice a one ounce chunk of the raw root or natural black candy and steep it in a quart (4 cups) of boiling water. Organic licorice tea can also be bought in any health food store, making it quicker to steep and drink, or gargle with.

Ginger Tea

Ginger tea is a real mainstay in our home. I keep a knob of ginger next to the garlic on the counter. I joke that part of my husband’s dowry was a ginger grater that has been invaluable for grating countless peeled chunks of ginger that I’ve steeped in hot water, drank, and shared with my family for the last 20 years. For small children, I use a knob about the size of the tip of my pinky finger, grated into hot water with a teaspoon of honey and allowed to cool until warm.



Aconitum is for the child who wakes just after midnight suffering a dry, hoarse, croupy cough. It will generally start after exposure to a cold, wet wind or draft. Look for shortness of breath with a craving for water and a very dry mouth. The cough will become worse after drinking cold water, lying on the left or right side while sleeping, or from being exposed to tobacco smoke. Aconitum will always have a quick onset where one minute the child feels just fine and the next they’re in the early stages of pleurisy, croup, bronchitis, or pneumonia. These children will appear anxious, restless, or even tell you that they feel like they may die.


Antimonium Tart is a homeopathic remedy used for deep, long-term chest afflictions. I use this remedy if the child just can’t shake the loud rattling cough, with stubborn mucus in the lungs that just won’t seem to loosen. The child will appear weak, chilly, drowsy, and feeble with a state of mind of anxiousness, irritability, and restlessness. Your “Ant. Tart.” babe will prefer cool rooms and open windows. Their symptoms worsen in warm or stuffy spaces. Note that the child will feel worse at night, generally waking at 4:00 a.m. with their bronchial symptoms having worsened. They may be full of gaiety and hilarity by day, but become more anxious and peevish at night.


Bryonia is for when a common cold starts as a headache over the eyes with lots of sinus congestion and then suddenly drops down into the chest. The cough will be dry and made worse during inhalation or by moving. Your child will most often be gripping at their chest and complaining that it hurts to move or breathe in. They will feel better the moment they step out into cooler air as warm stuffy rooms make them feel worse. There will also be an aggravating tickle in the throat that seems to set off the cough, which can cause vomiting. Bryonia is one of the biggest remedies for grief, so look for sadness, irritability, aversion to being with people, and a restlessness and inquietude about the future.


Drosera is one of the first remedies to think of for repeated spells of dry, barking, whooping-like cough. It is so spasmodic that they will choke to the point of vomiting which is made much worse the moment that they lie down, or after midnight, and especially around two o’clock in the morning. Look for cold sweats with profuse perspiration, chills, and a hoarse voice. Look for a feeling of great mistrust, dejection, or having suffered recent bullying. They may appear stubbornly dogged in their completion of their tasks. Your child may also have a fear of ghosts that comes on with this cough.

Ferrum Phosphoricum

Ferrum Phosphoricum is for symptoms that just don’t congeal into anything really substantial. Look for a wandering, periodic cough in the more anemic child that is made worse from being exposed to cold air, especially in the morning. Their gums will be lighter pink and their skintone more pasty white than a healthy child with healthy iron levels. The cough may come with a stitching pain upon breathing in, poor appetite, and an aversion to milk and meat with a preference for sour foods like dill pickles. They may be hoarse with initial hilarity and then a more laid out exhaustive state.

Hepar Sulphuricum

Hepar Sulphuricum is a great remedy for croup when the cough sounds like a barking seal. The onset will often be after exposure to cold and the symptoms will be excited by dryness, sounding like your child has dust in the larynx. Deep inhalation, drinking cold drinks, or drafts will make their state worse. Look for rattling chest with much mucus, but the inability to cough it up. Your child will be very irritable, sweating during the cough, and actually feel better in damp weather.


Ipecacuanha is for coughs that have a tendency towards retching and vomiting. Look for blood-stained mucus, tickling in the throat, and constriction of the chest. They will suffer coughing with every breath along with excess salivation made worse by hot, humid weather. Your babe may also be sneezing or suffer a hoarse voice when speaking. Your child may not be able to tolerate the least little noise, may be crying and howling, and may be feeling utter contempt about everything with little provocation.

Kali Bichromicum

Kali Bichromicum is for a stringy, ropey mucus that is very difficult to expel from the throat. Your child will often tell you that they have a hair stuck in their throat. Your child will feel worse from eating, drinking, cold weather, and being uncovered. They often feel most miserable at 3:00 a.m. They feel better after they get some of the yellowish mucus up and enjoy lying down in a warm bed. Watch for pain when sticking out their tongue, along with a hoarse voice. Your child may also complain of pain with coughing, just under the ribs and extending to the back. Look for discomfort around people, low spirits, listlessness, a loss of humor, weak memory, and anxiety rising from the chest congestion.


Phosphorus is for dry, hard coughs stemming from a persistent tickle behind the sternum. Your child will wake you at night with the need to sit up to cough, as they feel worse lying down, especially on their left side. Watch for the classic holding of the chest in order to decrease the pain with coughing which also exhausts them, telling you that their energy is “all gone.” Phosphorus coughs are made worse by talking, warm rooms, moving to a cold room, or from strong smells or odors. Look for blood streaked mucus from the nose, along with hoarseness and pneumonia-like symptoms where you can hear wheezy sacs of mucus caught in the lungs and shallow breathing. Look for great, dramatic fears, timidity, and imaginative, passionate displays of anger and even violence in this state.


Pulsatilla is for coughs that do not appreciate warm rooms, especially at night, as it will aggravate their symptoms. A window cracked open or stepping outside with them into cool air will help them feel better. Look for lots of productive green and yellow mucus when your child wakes in a Pulsatilla state. They will be VERY clingy, moody, indecisive, feeling much worse if left alone, even for a moment, and they will beg you not to leave with their big puppy dog eyes and tears. They can not get enough sympathy for their ills and will ask you to hold them, wanting you to stroke their face and hair constantly.


Rumex sufferers will experience a highly spasmodic cough made worse by cold air. These are the babes that ask to wear a scarf or face mask in winter, also feeling aggravated by anything pressing in, or touching, their throat. The dry cough is made worse at night, or by any motion, causing their body to be wracked by coughing. Look for a serious expression on their face, irritability, and low spirits to the point where they question their survival.


Spongia is the remedy for a dry, croupy, barking cough. There will be no sputum and it will appear worse in the early part of the night. Coughing will be worsened by warm rooms, cold air, someone smoking, lying with the head low, drinking something cold, sweets, or talking. Your child will feel better sitting, leaning forward, or with small doses of warm food or drink. Look for timidity, or alternatively combative behavior, and a tendency to feel frightened. They may mention that they feel like they might suffocate. They’ll also be anxious, cross, and fretful of mournful events long past. Your child will be difficult to console in this state.


As mentioned prior, while there are no flower essences specifically for physical ailments, we can do much as parents to shift our child’s mental and emotional suffering when they feel physically ill. If you recall your own history of the times that you first felt sick, or suffered a bronchial infection, it was scary not being able to breathe easily. This is why I’ve sourced out and compiled some resonant Flower Essences to help your child let go so they can get restorative sleep, enabling them to heal, and for you to get some necessary sleep.

Rescue Remedy

Rescue Remedy(RR) is a blend of the following five remedies created by Dr. Bach for crises and emergencies. It will help your child to relax, feel calm, rest, and cope with their cough symptoms. Rescue Remedy will help your babe to level out those more spiky feelings that can sometimes come up on the tide of feeling ill so that they can heal more quickly, enabling both of you to assume a better state of ease and grace. Here is a list and brief description of the Flower Essences contained in Rescue Remedy:

Impatiens as already described above, this remedy is for those children who become demanding and impatient to have their needs met. This flower essence will help the babe be more patient and empathetic towards you and their own plight.

Star of Bethlehem for having suffered shock or trauma, either recently or long in the past. It may be hard to imagine or remember being sick and feeling scared given that your internal landscape has completely changed, especially if baby is delirious. This remedy helps your child to integrate both their physical and emotional pain and suffering into a more manageable resolve, letting you both get on with your present life.

Cherry Plum for fear of losing all reason and control and entering into a spiral of self-inflicted, insidious, self-destructive tendencies. Cherry Plum enables the sufferer to invoke their essential wisdom, courageously trusting their own path, allowing for the illness symptoms to pass easily and by simply letting go without getting hung up on the drama of being ill.

Rock Rose for feelings of panic or terror.

Clematis for those who retreat into a world of fantasy to escape their illness. Your child will feel ungrounded and indifferent to what is going on in their everyday life. Clematis can help bring clarity, foster an abundance of creativity, even during their suffering; perpetuating a bridge between the needs of what’s required in the way of spiritual assimilation while feeling feverish or coughing, enabling the resolution into fine and gross motor skill development. Clematis takes the fount of ideas and our physicality, aligning them both into a state of accomplishment and grace.

In addition, a combination of walnut, crab apple, white chestnut, and the stone yellow sapphire can be great mental cleansers for when illness like coughs or fevers strike. Here’s a brief explanation of each in this particular context:


Walnut helps to contain the child, protecting them from outside influences. When my children were little, I joked that I put a little white bubble of protection around them when they were feeling fragile or they were going to be in a situation with negative influences. When a child, or adult, is suffering with an ailment like a cough, their resources are needed in order to focus on healing. Walnut is a good remedy to keep their life-force less scattered by siblings, media, or even by a toxic situation.

Crab Apple

Crab Apple is a good emotional, and thus physical, cleansing remedy. Whether your child’s cough is bacterial or viral in nature, this remedy is ideal for helping the body detoxify from any errant pathogens that they may be hosting.

White Chestnut

White Chestnut is a great remedy for repeating patterns, like a cough. As the parent, you’ll no doubt hear your baby coughing in the night like a broken record. White chestnut can help quiet the noise of the spasmodic nature of the life-force caught in this pattern of spasms, also helping your child to calm into a deep sleep.


Yellow Sapphire is used in Ayurvedic Medicine for healing coughs and colds. It is thought to unblock the yellow chakra located just below the solar plexus, releasing diaphragmatic spasming associated with coughing and even epilepsy. Yellow Sapphire is also calming and helps bring about a deep, restorative sleep. You can keep the gemstone safely out of reach in your baby’s room or perhaps find a necklace similar to an amber teething necklace.


You can use essential oils by placing them in a warm steam vaporizer in their room, rubbing the diluted oils on the bottoms of their feet, or dropping them on their pillow or on an old t-shirt that you don’t mind getting oil stains on. Never apply undiluted essential oils to bare skin as they can cause burning and/or irritation.


Benzoin has a calming, relaxing effect on the nervous system, and a toning, strengthening effect on the respiratory organs. Benzoin has a pleasing vanilla-like smell.


Clove has anti-infectious, antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-tumoral, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it ideal for bronchial infections. It is said to positively affect the chakras located in the chest and throat making it ideal for respiratory issues.


Lavender is a tried and true essential oil, having been used for centuries in sachets and potpourri. Scientifically, lavender contains aromatic molecules termed “esters”,  a pacifying tonic that acts as an anti-spasmodic, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and a relaxant to the whole body including the respiratory system.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil (not to be ingested by small children) is remarkable in “first aid” situations. Fungal infections, colds, whooping cough, asthma, bronchitis, and tuberculosis can not easily remain in the face of tea tree oil in a steam tent, on the bottom of feet, or in a hot bath (allowed to cool enough for baby). Your child can safely smell the vapors right out of the bottle, clearing her sinus and bronchial passages immediately. You can also add a drop or two to sweet almond oil, coconut oil, or oil olive and then rub onto your child’s chest.


Thyme is a wonderful essential oil that combats depression, aids memory and concentration, helps with the aches and pains of muscle fatigue, addresses feelings of exhaustion, in addition to fortifying the lungs. Used as vapour therapy, thyme oil helps with the common cold, sinusitis, sore throats, tonsillitis, coughs, croup, asthma, laryngitis, and whooping cough. You can blend it with a carrier oil like sweet almond oil and massage your child’s back and chest with it to help clear chest congestion.

About the author

Allyson McQuinn

Allyson McQuinn, DHHP, DMH, JAOH, is a Dr. of Heilkunst Medicine with almost twenty years of research behind her. She co-owns Arcanum Wholistic Clinic, where she treats patients internationally by phone and Skype, using the scientific principles of Medical Heilkunst to treat patient’s sequential timelines, relieving them of their shocks and traumas of an emotional and physical nature.

Allyson’s foray into Heilkunst principles began with her son who was rendered chronically ill in the autism spectrum after his MMR vaccine. It was shortly thereafter that he stopped passing stool regularly, except for once every 1-2 weeks, stopped making eye contact and his development became more and more delayed. As a result of being told to “just put him on drugs for the rest of his his childhood, because some boys just seem to suffer from this,” Allyson went on a journey to solve the root cause of her son’s autistic spectrum issues. She found the answers through Dr. Samuel Hahnemann’s foundational teachings in homeopathic principles from the Organon der Heilkunst taught at The Hahnemann College for Heilkunst. As a result, she wrote, The Path to Cure; The Whole Art of Healing, in 2004 illustrating her son’s full blown cure from autism.

As a further result of going on to study at the Post Graduate level with Steven Decker (Scholar and translator of Hahnemann’s 6th edition of the Organon der Heilkunst) at The Novalis Organon in Santa Barbara California (note that this school has since folded its curriculum into the Hahnemann College’s), Allyson was inspired to study in depth Rudolf Steiner’s medical lectures in Anthroposophical Medicine and just about everything Wilhelm Reich ever wrote.

The latter took her into the heart of true desire function. After literally consuming Reich’s “Character Analysis” and “Function Of The Orgasm,” Allyson began to adopt Medical Orgone Therapies, including Bowen, fashioning them into consistent psycho-therapeutics for her patients where she consistently sees them relieved of their physical armoring, emotional schizms, and spiritual suffering. This is the subject of her second book, Unfolding The Essential Self; From Rage to Orgastic Potency, where she explores how fellow clinicians can help their patients express their anger, naturally releasing their thwarted and repressed healthy desires for their true beloved.

In 2013, Allyson also published, Sophie’s Truth;How a Young Girl Unfolded Her Essential Self Through Love, which is a novel depicting her post graduate research into how sexual suppression in society actually creates skewed practices of a pornographic nature and how her character, Sophie, overcomes her own anger realizing this societal burden for herself. Allyson also wrote the book entitled, The Raw Milk Cleanse: My Discovery Over 35 Days on Nothing But Goat’s Milk, which, she cites was one of the most illuminating journeys imaginable. Allyson has authored 17 books to date and she says that she’s only getting started.

Allyson lives as a digital nomad, writing for a variety of publications, lecturing, and serving patients worldwide with her resonant partner, and fellow Heilkünstler, Jeff Korentayer, B.A. Psych., DHHP, DMH. She’s an avid hiker and photojournalist for a variety travel magazines. Allyson also has a beautiful and healthy daughter who was also homeschooled and now works with Allyson as an editor on the publishing side her business.