All-Natural Cough Remedies

California is in full bloom, and lots of people’s allergies are causing runny noses, watery eyes, and lot’s of coughing. If you’re starting to feel a sore throat coming on, or already have a cough, there are several zero waste cough remedies that could help.

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First and foremost, always remember to put health first! Going to see your doctor and resting up are two essentials to this.

With that said, there are lots of natural remedies to coughs. Here are a few I personally prefer.

Related: Zero Waste Cold and Flu Remedies


Local raw honey is one of the best treatments for a sore throat and a cough. Not only does it taste delicious, but it will help sooth your throat.

Just make sure to get local raw honey, as store bought honey is often “ultra-filtered” through heat and pasteurization. This processing destroys the beneficial compounds, pollen and enzymes that make raw honey so nutrient dense.

You can look for local raw honey at your local farmers market, or check online. Just do a quick google search of “local raw honey near me” or specify the state you’re in.

When you get your hands on the honey, you can eat a tablespoon of it straight up to help with a cough. Two to four tablespoons of raw honey a day is best (one at night, one in the morning).

However, if you have a coughing fit, feel free to reach for the honey to help calm it down!

You can also mix in two tablespoons of honey into your tea, and drink this honey tea at least twice a day. Tea is very soothing to the throat as well, so the two combined should help nicely.

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Believe it or not, ginger may actually help ease a dry throat, seeing as it has anti-inflammatory properties. As a bonus, it also helps relieve nausea and pain.

If you find yourself coughing a lot, ginger can help relax membranes in the airways, which can help reduce the amount you cough.

I suggest brewing up a cup of ginger tea using fresh ginger slices. You can add them directly to the hot water and let it steep a few minutes.

You can also add honey or lemon juice to improve the taste and increase the benefits of ginger tea. Opt for organic ginger whenever possible too.

Drink ginger tea at least twice a day for the best results.

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As a general rule, you should always consume more fluids when you’re sick. Your body really needs them to help flush out toxins.

Make sure you’re getting enough water, for starters. You should be aiming for at least 8 cups of water a day.

Drinking liquids at room temperature can also help alleviate a cough, runny nose, and sneezing. So the next time you reach for some water, consider not drinking it ice cold.

However, drinking some warming fluids will also help with a sore throat and cough. Specifically, hot drinks.

Try to consume more tea and soup whenever you have a cough. Consuming fluids will be easier on your throat and make you less likely to cough.

I recommend trying licorice root or marshmallow root tea for a stubborn cough. Both those herbs are great at relieving any tickling, itching or irritation you might feel in your throat that causes you to cough in the first place.

Make sure you brew some zero waste tea, if you decide to drink it. Most tea bags are made from plastic, which isn’t healthy for you or the earth.

Choose bulk teas, or purchase tea from companies that make compostable tea bags whenever possible (Yogi Tea is my favorite). Loose leaf tea in reusable tins are great as well.

You can also try drinking clear broths or plain old warm water (with a slice of lemon perhaps).

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If you have a nasty wet cough, steam might be able to help provide some relief. Take a hot shower with eucalyptus or bath to allow the bathroom to fill with steam.

I know baths aren’t the most environmentally friendly option (so much wasted water), but if you don’t take a bath too often, it’s okay to treat yourself when you’re sick.

Besides, there are plenty of other ways to reduce your water footprint, such as cutting out meat and dairy products from your diet.

Related: 5 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Whatever you decide to do (bath or shower), stay in the steam for a few minutes until your symptoms subside. Just make sure to drink a glass of water afterwards to prevent dehydration (and to cool down).

You can alternatively make a steam bowl to save water. Just fill a large bowl with hot water: You can add herbs or essential oils to it if you so choose. Eucalyptus or rosemary are nice choices that also help relieve decongestion.

Place a towel over your head and lean over the bowl, inhaling the vapors for about 5 minutes. This will help loosen you up and ease your symptoms.

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salt water gargle:

My boyfriend loves doing this every time he feels a sore throat coming on. More than half the time, it actually works too.

This simple remedy is the most effective way to treat a wet cough and a sore throat. That’s because salt water actually reduces phlegm and mucus in the back of the throat.

All you need to do is stir half a teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water and let it dissolve. When the solution cools slightly, just gargle with it a little at a time, making sure to let it sit on the back of your throat for a few moments before spitting.

Gargle with salt water several times each day until your cough improves or completely subsides.

Altogether, please make sure to see a doctor if your condition worsens.

If you wind up needing an over the counter medication for your cough, don’t beat yourself up over it. Waste happens.

If you’d like to stay as healthy as possible this winter, I recommend trying some of these natural immune boosters. The best cure is always prevention, after all!

What are some zero waste cough remedies you prefer?


Guest Post: Ariana Palmieri is the founder of, a blog dedicated to zero waste living and sustainability. Her work has been featured on MindBodyGreen, Green Matters, The Penny Hoarder and several other publications. Get her free e-book "10 Ways to Reduce Trash" by signing up to her newsletter and learn how to reduce your waste today.