Cough and catarrh commonly referred to as common cold is an infection of the nose and throat. Its symptoms are sore throat, runny nose, cough, nasal congestion, sneezing, headache, weakness etc.
In Nigeria, our cough and catarrh (cold or flu) season is mostly in the cold season from the last few months of the year to the beginning of the year. Having a raging cough can be embarrassing especially when one has to go to public areas such as school, work, gatherings etc. Catarrh on the other hand is a very annoying problem especially because of the congestion of the nose that make it difficult to breather. The most common causes of a cough are:
- Lack of sleep
- Viruses etc.
For most of us, we just need proper rest, diet and home remedies to make our common cold to go away. Common colds don’t have any medicine or vaccine because it is the body that has to fight the infection so it is important that we make our body strong. For today, we will be focusing on the remedies for cough and catarrh which are easily available in Nigeria. The remedy for sore throat will be a post for another day.
Ginger is best used for cough and catarrh while it is fresh. Dried ginger and ginger tea are also options if you do not have fresh ginger. Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce swelling and relaxes the inflamed airways making it easier to breathe.
How to use:
- Add chopped or crushed ginger to hot water and steep until it is cool-warm enough to drink.
- Add some honey and lemon to increase the effectiveness of the tea
- Sip gently until the tea is finished. The congestion in your throat will loosen and your cough will subside by then.
- Some even chew on a piece of ginger throughout the day and it really helps them.
Instead of getting those cough drops from the pharmacy, how about you use a proven natural alternative to it. Honey has been used for these minor infections in many societies for centuries.
It is an anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant and anti–inflammatory food substance that helps fight infections and also boost the immune system.
How to use:
As a cough drop:
- Take a table spoon of honey or more if you wish and do not eat or drink anything else for at least an hour.
To strengthen immunity
- Take a tablespoon of honey and some warm water. Mix well and you can add some lemon if you wish. Take this 3-4 times a day.
For a dry and scratchy cough
- Take a table spoon of honey and mix it with warm water and sip gradually. Allow it to soothe the throat for about an hour before eating anything else. you can do this whenever your throat becomes scratchy and dry.
Garlic is very effective in clearing infection of catarrh and cough or just viral infections in the body.
How to use:
Cut up not more than 2 big pieces of garlic and swallow them with water. It is best done before a meal. Remember, garlic is a blood thinner so don’t use too much. Also, do not add the chopped garlic in your food because it will not be as effective. Trust me, I have tried that. So eat it sepertely at least two hours after a meal or an hour before a meal.
This and ginger are one of the most effective remedies that I know for cough and catarrh.
Sometimes especially at night, we find it hard to sleep and that is when we go through our cupboards to find that mentholatum. This usually happens when we become desperate and we are finding it hard to breathe on our own because of the catarrh.
Mint oil is a perfect replacement for mentholatum and safer too. Mint is known for its antibacterial and antioxidants and it also contains natural menthol which is the main ingredient of mentholatum.
Drop some mint oil on some cotton and place it inside your nostril. I will not advise you to fill both nostrils with as breathing might become difficult for you, take note not to push it too much inside your nose. Just keep it at the entrance of your nose so that every breath you take, you will be taking some of it with you and it will help open your air passages some more
You can also just rub some of the oil under your nose just above your lips if you do not have cotton buds or tissue with you.
Vitamin C is vital to the human immunity which is why when we have infections especially colds, coughs and sore throats, the doctor almost always prescribes some vitamin C tablets for the person to suck or drink. Since only the body can fight these infections, we can make the process faster by supporting the immune system
Effective cough-catarrh tea for immediate relief
- 5pcs of Garlic (not the big bulb)
- an inch Ginger
- 4 pcs of Chili Pepper (dried or fresh)
- 3pcs of African black pepper
- a tablespoon Black pepper grains or 2 teaspoon of the powder
- 1 teaspoon of Grains of paradise
- 7pcs of cloves
- Grind or pound these spices together. you can add a little water to make it mix well (2-3 tablespoons).
- Boil the spices in about a liter of water.
- Let it cool down, then sieve.
- Take a small cup of the mixture twice a day in the morning and evening after meals.
- Keep the rest in the fridge and warm it by adding hot water before taking it the following day (which means you will take more than a small cup in the following day). You can also heat it up on the stove to make it warm again.
If you are looking for the local name for these spices in Nigeria, you can find then here. The most important ingredients in this mixture is the ginger, garlic, black pepper and the cloves. Others can be skipped if you don’t have them all in the kitchen. I do advise that you make this recipe using the complete ingredients.
Using this recipe, it should clear the cough by 24 hours but continue taking this cough mixture for at least 2 days and ideally 3 days. As we know, cough and cold can be stubborn and needs to be treated efficiently.
Dress in warm clothes
Avoid fans and air conditioners like the plague. They will only make your situation worse and stay warm even if it is summer outside, stay as warm as you can with long sleeves, jackets, socks, hats etc. It will really help you get rid of it fast. Promise!
This is probably the most delicious of all the home remedies. Make yourself some spicy soup with lots of pepper, ginger, black pepper, cloves and all those good spices or even a delicious Nigerian pepper soup and just make it a full meal. Drink as much as you can all day from the soup. Also, make sure that the soup is warm not cool or cold.
Soup are encouraged for coughs and flu because they help the body recover and are richer than just plain water. They help clear nasal congestions and mucus becomes thinned so that it can easily drip out of the bod. So keep some tissue nearby as you are enjoying your soup
Gargle with salt water
A warm salt and water solution is a very old remedy for not only coughs but also sore throat. The salt fights the bacteria in the throat and loosens the mucus which will in-turn, clear your sinuses.
Simply mix some salt with enough warm water, taste it and gargle. You can do this about three times a day or whenever the discomfort starts bothering you.
Steam bath/steam inhalation
Sometimes our nose becomes too congested that even breathing becomes a problem and our throats are no uncomfortably dry. All in all, we feel miserable. This is the time to take a very warm bath the leaves you feeling anew.
Or you can chose a better option which is steam inhalation. Boil some water, get a blanket, find somewhere you can sit comfortably. Here you will need some time of oil that is used for respiratory tracks. Hopefully you have some eucalyptus oil, any citrus oil, peppermint oil, mint, thyme, rosemary oil, tea tree etc.
- Pour the hot water in a pot or bring the post if it is big enough to where you are going to sit.
- Put the blanket over your head and cover all possible steam escape leaks.
- Open the pot or bowl and pour about 7 – 10 of the essential oil into the pot.
- Open your mouth and widen your nose well so that the steam and all the goodies in the oil that will make you feel and breathe better will do their work.
- You can close you eyes if it is more comfortable for you
- Sit like this inside the blanket for about 10-15 minutes or until the water cools down
I am sure you will be feeling better than before. This method always works for me and those around me though it is not the most pleasant experience.
Warm drink and teas
Avoid cold, cool and room temperature drinks, teas and if I may say water. The water is optional for you but if you want to get rid of this infection fast, you should switch to warm water even if it is a all day but most of the day, you should drink warm liquids.
I believe if you follow these remedies well, you will be rid of cough and catarrh in a few day or less than a week. If it still persists or is only getting worse despite your efforts with the home remedy, see a doctor as soon as possible. Remember, a cough and catarrh are a reaction to an infection most of the time and the body needs time to get through this attack so you need to be a little patient as the body has to go through some stages before it can finally defeat the infection.
Common colds are easily spread from person to person or child. children are especially vulnerable to these infections as they experience more cases of cough and catarrh by average than the average adult. So try and contain this infection while you have it. Do not take antibiotics because not only do they have no effect on the virus, they can also be dangerous for our health.
Take Care of yourself especially in this cold and dry season where colds and coughs are just waiting around the corner ready to pounce on you. I hope you found these remedies helpful which by the way are ones that I use when I have colds or coughs as most of us do around the year.
They are all easily available everywhere even in Nigeria so it should be easy for you. I only share home remedies that I know are effective because there are many ineffective remedies on the internet.
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Have a nice day!