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A cough is  the spasmodic and sudden contraction of the diaphragm and respiratory muscles which results in the forceful expulsion of air from the lungs. It  is a reflex reaction to an irritation of the lining of the lungs by an invading organism or an irritating substance.

Usually the lining of the airways increase the amount of mucous production in order to trap the organism. Coughing then occurs in an attempt to get rid of the mucous and the organism. In this case the cough has a rattling sound as a result of the movement of the mucous.

Throat irritations may cause a chronic and persistent cough. Irritations include acid reflux , a post nasal drip or certain medications.

Acute coughs

Most coughs clear up on their own witin a week to 10 days. If yours lasts more than this or you cough up green or bloody phlegm - see a doctor.

Herbal helpers.

Thyme is an expectorant and also contains substances that relax the repiratory tract. Take a teaspoon of thyme tincure daily. For children Liquorice and Thyme syrup is very soothing.

Liquorice - add around 45 drops of liquorice tincture to a cup of hot water and sip.Take three times a day. Liquorice helps to llosen phlegm and relax bronchial spasms. (do not take for more than a few weeks as it can raise blood pressure).

Lobelia tincture (adults only) is traditionally used as a broncho-dilator, expectorant, anti-asthmatic and antispasmodic. Large doses can cause vomiting. Also used as a smoking deterrent.

Echinacea and garlic juice tincture - garlic is marvelous as a natural anit-biotic and aids the break up of thick mucous.

Barking coughs

This describes loud coughs which do not produce and mucous or phlegm. They are usually quite painful and may be very distressing (see Croup).

For adults we would recommend Wild Cherry tincture which is traditionally used to cut back on the cough reflex. If the dry cough is also painful we had a mix of Wild Cherry and Iceland Moss Tincture

A child with croup has a barking cough that often worsens at night. To treat it, take the child into the bathroom or shower room and run a hot steamy shower or fill a bath with hot water so that the air is humid (do not put the child into the hot bath/shower). Keep the child in the steam until the croup subsides. If it doesn't improve - or if the child is struggling to breathe - call the emergency services.

During the day time - give liquorice and thyme syrup up to three times daily and wild cherry syrup in the evening. Place a damp towel with a few drops of eucalyptus oil on the radiator and keep the central heating on low throughout the night.