Your cold disappeared weeks ago-but you're still coughing. This cough usually isn't due to the infection itself but to its inflammatory aftereffects. Postnasal drip is your body's attempt to clear out your respiratory tract through a productive cough." Or a virus can leave your bronchial tubes sensitive and irritated by airborne substances. A dry cough" (no mucus is produced) is your body's attempt to get rid of these irritants.

It may take one to three weeks to get rid of a lingering cough. If your cough doesn't ease up within three weeks, see your doctor. Tea and honey always help, but so can the remedies below, which are safe for everyone except as noted. You can try one remedy at a time, but I find that using all of them in combination works best. These natural options work as well as, or better than, over-the-counter cough formulas and have a better safety record. Children also can take these remedies-in doses that are one-quarter to one-half that of adults, based on their weight.

For a cough with mucus or a dry cough…

  • N-acetylcysteine (NAC). This amino acid derivative thins mucus so that your body can expel it more easily.

Dose: 1,000 milligrams (mg), twice daily,

  • Cherry bark extract. An extract from black cherry tree bark (Prunus serotina), this expectorant loosens phlegm so that it can be expelled.

Dose: 500 mg in capsule form or 1 milliliter (ml) of herbal tincture, three or four times daily. It should not be used by women who are pregnant.

  • Licorice root extract. This herb has a soothing effect on the respiratory tract and also is a cough suppressant.

Dose: 500 mg in capsule form or 1 ml of herbal tincture, three or four times daily.

For a dry cough…

In addition to the remedies above, I often recommend…

  • Marshmallow root extract. This herb, derived from the marshmallow plant, reduces inflammation in the respiratory tract.

Dose: 500 mg in capsule form or 1 ml of herbal tincture, three or four times daily.

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