Sandra is a medical herbalist, medical anthropologist, and columnist for the NZ Herald.

Your health: How to get rid of a cough that won't leave

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A lingering cough makes winter even worse. Photo / Getty
A lingering cough makes winter even worse. Photo / Getty

I have a bit of a cough that has hung around for a couple of weeks - I just can't seem to shake it. Usually it wouldn't worry me but there is so much phlegm! Are there any natural remedies I can use to get rid of it?

Nothing is more annoying than having a cough or cold that just does not seem to shift, especially if you are struggling with excessive phlegm! It can make winter just a little bit harder.

Traditional plant medicine excels at helping the body when it is under the weather with colds and flus, and can really help to get rid of an annoying cough or post nasal drip.

Elderflower (Sambucus nigra) works by stopping the build-up of mucus and also helps to relieve fever. It's a great plant that can help with sinusitis, and drying up excess mucus which makes it helpful for post nasal drips and what might seem an overload of mucus.

In a randomised controlled trial with four other herbs, Elderflower helped to reduce symptoms such as excessive mucus, headaches, and fever.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is known for its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties but it also helps with fighting the annoying left over symptoms that can result from a cold.

It can work to calm all types of coughs that may linger after being unwell. Thyme also works at helping to reduce and dry up excessive mucus which will help with reducing coughing and a post nasal drip.

Grindelia (Grindelia robusta) has an expectorant action that can help you get rid of excess mucus in the upper respiratory tract as well as calming the airways if you have a niggling cough. Grindelia is really helpful for asthmatics and those with chronic bronchitis for this reason.

Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum) oil also works really well by thinning excessive mucus so you can get rid of it more efficiently. This can help people who find they cough and cough but cannot clear the build up from the airways. Aniseed is also an antimicrobial and helps to calm your airways which is essential when you have been coughing a lot.

Even though you may be feeling a lot better than you were a few weeks ago, it is still a great idea to keep boosting your immunity. These specific plants will definitely help with your symptoms and help with fighting any extra bugs that are still lingering. Concentrate on nutrient dense foods high in antioxidants and keep up your fluid intake.

• If your symptoms do not clear or get worse please consult your leading medical provider.

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Sandra is a medical herbalist, medical anthropologist, and columnist for the NZ Herald.

Sandra Clair is the founder of Artemis (artemis.co.nz) offering New Zealanders a premium range of traditional plant medicine products. She is one of New Zealand’s most highly qualified health professionals in her field, as a Swiss trained medical herbalist and a medical anthropologist (M.A.). Sandra is currently completing a PhD in health science at the University of Canterbury in collaboration with the Chair for Natural Medicine of the University of Zürich, Switzerland.

Read more by Sandra Clair

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