Dear Dr. Wendy,
I am the mother of a three and six year old. Both kids had colds about two months ago with congestion, sore throat and cough. All of their symptoms resolved except for the cough. They seem to be feeling fine (playing, sleeping, eating), except the cough doesn’t seem to be getting much better. I have read that cough medicine can be dangerous. Is there anything natural I can do to help get rid of this lingering cough?
— Sierra, 28
Coughing can be very uncomfortable and disruptive for the whole family. The cough can persist long after the acute illness has resolved. Here are some natural things to try to calm a dry, persistent cough.
For kids age two to six years old, raw honey is clinically proven to treat coughs and help soothe a dry, sore throat. Look for a raw, dark, amber honey like buckwheat (not ordinary, highly processed honey). For kids between two and five years old, use a half teaspoon dose two to four times per day as needed. Kids aged six to 12 can take one teaspoon. Never give honey to a baby under 12 months old. Since the American Academy of Pediatrics has endorsed the use of honey for coughs, you can find many drugstore “honey” cough syrups. Avoid these because they generally have chemicals and preservatives hidden under the title “natural flavor.”
Herbal teas can be very helpful to calm a cough. Just for Kids Throat Coat by Traditional Medicinals is a good choice. It has herbs that are helpful for a cough in child-safe doses, and it has a pleasant taste. Other teas that can be helpful are licorice root, wild cherry bark and slippery elm. Warm water with honey and lemon can also be helpful.
Essential oils can be used in a few ways. Rubbed on the chest, it can help break up congestion in the chest and head. Use two tablespoons of pure oil (olive, coconut, almond) with two drops of essential oil (eucalyptus and peppermint are good choices). Avoid the mass market petroleum based rub (you know the one). You can also add essential oils to a steamy shower or bath to open up the chest. Running a diffuser in the bedroom can help with nighttime coughs.
Massaging the chest and back can be calming and stimulate the body to heal. For the back massage, there is a specific technique using gentle pinching and pulling. Start at the base of the spine and lightly pinch and lift the skin between the thumbs and index finger on either side of the spine, working your way up to the neck. On the chest, start with your thumbs together in the center and push them out to either side. It is safe and effective for all ages.
See your doctor immediately for any red flags such as sudden, high fever, difficulty breathing or difficulty swallowing.
Do you have a question to ask us? Please email them to Askcoach@haydenhealth.com.
**This Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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Dr. Wendy Cunningham is a doctor of chiropractic, certified acupuncturist and has her master’s degree in nutrition.