Herbal medicines have an anti-irritant and expectorant effect
When coughing, the air is expelled from the airways at up to 1,000 kilometers per hour - an enormous speed. The reflex is often perceived as annoying because it can hardly be controlled and tortures those affected, especially at night. Cough is a protective mechanism to remove foreign bodies, mucus or dust from the airways. In acute cough, a distinction is made between dry and productive cough. In both cases, phytopharmaceuticals, i.e. herbal products, are suitable for treatment. They are available without a prescription in the pharmacy and are well tolerated by patients.
Cough can appear as a symptom of various conditions such as bronchitis or pneumonia. In most cases, there is only a cold behind it, with viruses or bacteria causing inflammation of the bronchial mucosa. Acute cough associated with a cold can last up to three weeks and is divided into dry and productive cough. Dry cough usually occurs at the beginning of a cold as a result of the inflamed bronchial mucosa. This is very irritable and reacts quickly with a coughing fit, which is why this type is also called irritable cough. With productive cough, the bronchial tubes increasingly produce mucus that is expelled to clean the airways. However, the secretion is often stuck in the bronchi and cannot be coughed up, which is often uncomfortable for those affected.
Natural treatment options
“The therapy depends on the type of cough. A dry cough is about soothing the urge to cough. In the productive way, on the other hand, the slime solution is in the foreground, ”says Isabel Justus, managing director of the Bremen Chamber of Pharmacies. In both cases, there are various herbal supplements that relieve the symptoms. In the case of a dry cough, cough suppressants are administered which contain, for example, Icelandic moss, ribwort leaves or marshmallow root. These herbal remedies have mucilaginous sugars that protect the mucous membrane in the mouth and throat and soothe them.
For productive cough, cough relievers are used, so-called expectorants. In the pharmacy, patients receive medicines that contain thyme herb individually or in combination with primrose root or ivy. These agents have an expectorant effect and promote expectoration. Sick people should use them during the day so that the mucus can be coughed up during the day. The guidelines of the German Society for General Medicine and Family Medicine (DEGAM) and the German Society for Pneumology and Respiratory Medicine (DGP) confirm the effectiveness of extracts from thyme, ivy and primrose root based on two randomized controlled studies.
Essential oils such as eucalyptus or pine needle oil also have an expectorant and anti-inflammatory effect. However, no hot drinks should be consumed when taking the gastro-resistant capsules, otherwise the capsules will already dissolve in the stomach. “It is not advisable to use essential oils in infants and young children. There is a risk of cramping the larynx, which can result in respiratory arrest. Therefore, treatment is only possible under medical supervision, ”explains Justus. Sufficient fluid, light movement and inhalation with saline also support the mucus solution and coughing up. If a cold does not improve after seven days, including the use of cough suppressants or cough relievers, patients should go to the doctor. A doctor should also be consulted if you have a high fever, shortness of breath, bloody sputum or chest pain.