One of the most distressing complications of a cold can be the lingering cough. Many people report that their sore throat disappears after a few days. Ditto for the stuffy, runny nose.
But a cough can linger for weeks after other symptoms are gone. Sleep can be a challenge when you’re hacking all night.
Dextromethorphan (DXM) is the primary ingredient in most cough medicines. But evidence of its effectiveness is surprisingly thin.
Studies have found that dextromethorphan works no better than placebo for nighttime cough control (Indian Journal of Pediatrics, Nov. 2013; Pediatrics, July 2004). A trial comparing honey to DXM and no treatment at all found that parents rated honey better for symptom relief than DM and no treatment (Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, Dec. 2007).
A sweet-tasting syrup made from onions and sugar or honey cooked very slowly until it becomes thick was an old-fashioned cough remedy. Many readers have fond recollections of it.
Our favorite cough remedy is thyme tea. To make it, steep a half-teaspoon of dried thyme leaves for five or six minutes in a cup of boiling water. Then strain it, and sweeten with honey if you like.
A squeeze of lemon juice may make the flavor more palatable for some. The compounds found in thyme, especially thymol, seem to calm coughs for several hours.
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