A cough can affect your work and sleep, and it can disturb others around you, too.

An expectorant is something that helps to loosen mucus so that you can cough it up. Unfortunately, over-the-counter expectorants aren’t always effective.

Generations of grandmothers have sworn by their own natural cough remedies, but how effective are they?

1. Honey


Honey is delicious, natural, and oh so soothing. It’s also good at loosening up that gunk in your chest. A spoonful of honey and a nice warm cup of tea can be both soothing and helpful. (Note: Never give honey to an infant under 1 year old.)

While the age-old trick of having a spoonful of honey before bedtime hasn’t been studied very much, it tastes so good, it’s got to be worth a try!

2. Steam

A vaporizer or hot shower creates moisture in the air and helps to loosen mucus. It can also calm the cough reflex, make coughs more productive, and can help to soothe a sore throat.

3. Herbs and Vapor Rubs


Inhale the soothing vapors of herbs like eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, and clove oil to allow for a more productive cough. Drugstore vapor rubs usually contain a mixture of petroleum jelly and essential oils. Some replace petroleum with more eco-friendly coconut oil or almond oil.

As long as the essential oils are there, vapor rub or ointments can loosen mucus when they’re rubbed onto the chest and neck. Some essential oils are not recommended for children, so always check packaging first.

4. Chicken Broth

Drinking lots of warm liquids helps to thin mucus. Warm chicken soup isn’t just comfort food. Drinking it speeds up the movement of mucus, providing relief.

5. Tea


Herbal teas provide soothing, warm relief similar to chicken soup. Tea has been used as an herbal remedy for centuries to provide relief for many symptoms. As an expectorant, green tea may also help fight viruses like the common cold, but there isn’t a lot of solid research to back that up.