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Cough

Coughing is the body’s way of removing irritating substances, excess secretions, and foreign objects from air passages. This is important, both as a protective mechanism and for the healing process—which is why a cough should not be artificially suppressed with drugs. When a cough is painful, too intense, or prevents good rest, the use of remedies can gently relieve discomfort and help with recovery. Coughing can accompany a wide variety of illnesses or conditions. If a person has serious difficulty breathing, coughs up blood or abnormal discharge, or seems very ill in other ways, professional help should be sought.

For dosage information, please read the information at the end of this section. See also “Using Homeopathy With Professional Guidance” in What Is Homeopathy?

Aconitum napellus: This remedy is indicated when a cough has come on suddenly—often from exposure to cold wind, or after a traumatic experience. The cough is likely to be sharp, short, dry, and constant. It may begin during sleep and wake the person up, or can start when the person goes from a cool place into a warmer one. Restlessness and fear are typical when this remedy is needed. It is often used in early stages of croup and asthma.

Belladonna: A cough that comes on suddenly, often with the feeling of a speck or tickle in the throat, is a strong indication for this remedy. The cough is intense and nagging and the person may feel as if the head is about to burst. Sensations of heat, a reddened face, and dilated pupils are often seen when this remedy is needed.

Bryonia: This remedy is indicated when a cold goes into the chest and the cough is very painful and dry. The person feels worse from any movement, and may even need to hold his or her sides or press against the chest to keep it still. The cough can also make the head or stomach hurt, and digestion may be upset. The mouth can be dry and the person may be thirsty. If someone is very grumpy when ill and wants to be left alone, not talked to or disturbed, Bryonia is likely to be the remedy.

Chamomilla: A dry, hard, irritating cough that starts after being exposed to wind, or after being overexcited and angry, can indicate this remedy. The cough is often worse around nine in the evening and may continue into the night. The nervous system is hypersensitive, and the person can be extremely irritable and agitated. (Children may even shriek and hit, though they often calm down if someone carries them.) This remedy is also useful in asthma attacks, especially those brought on by anger.

Ferrum phosphoricum: This is an excellent remedy for the early stages of many inflammatory conditions, especially colds and allergy attacks. The cough is typically short and tickling, and may be painful. Things are worse in cold air, at night, and in the early morning. The person feels weary, and often has a moderate fever and lightly flushed cheeks.

Hepar sulphuris calcareum: This remedy is very helpful when a cough is loose, rattling and gagging, and brings up yellow mucus. It also relieves long, dry coughing jags. Extreme sensitivity to all sensations—especially cold—suggests a need for this remedy. Cold in any form (even food or drink) can set off a bout of coughing, and make the person feel more ill. A person who needs this remedy feels both physically and emotionally vulnerable, and can be irritable and touchy. This remedy is often indicated in bronchitis and croup.

Ipecacuanha: A violent cough that comes with every breath, and long spasmodic bouts of coughing that end in gagging or vomiting, are indications for this remedy. The person may have a clean, uncoated tongue and experience tightness in the throat and chest, or an aggravating tickle. Warm, humid air or changes in the weather tend to make problems worse. Ipecacuanha is often used during asthma attacks.

Nux vomica: Indications for this remedy include a tight sensation in the chest with a dry, hacking, teasing cough—often causing soreness or a feeling that something has been torn inside. Long coughing jags can end in stomach pain and retching, and may make the person’s head ache. A person who needs this remedy is likely to be impatient, irritable, and oversensitive to everything. A feeling of chilliness is typical, and problems are often worse from exertion (both mental and physical) and worse in the morning.

Phosphorus: This remedy is indicated when a person experiences hoarseness and a tickly cough that hurts the throat, or a cold that travels quickly to the chest. The cough can be aggravated by talking, laughing, and exposure to cold air. The person may feel heaviness or tightness. A thirst for cold drinks (that may cause nausea after warming up in the stomach) is another indication for Phosphorus. A person who needs this remedy is typically imaginative and fearful, and likes the company of others, but tires very easily. This remedy is often used for loss of the voice and laryngitis.

Pulsatilla: Coughs that are dry in the evening and loose in the morning, worse in a stuffy room or when the person feels too warm, and improved in open air may indicate this remedy. The chest usually has a feeling of pressure and soreness, and thick yellow mucus may be coughed up with gagging and choking. A person who needs this remedy usually likes attention and company. It is often given to children who tend toward tears when ill and want to be held and comforted.

Rumex crispus: A teasing, hacking cough that is triggered by a tickle in the pit of the throat is a strong indication for this remedy; even touching the base of the throat can set off coughing. The cough is often dry, but frothy or stringy mucus may come up. Coughing may begin when the person goes outside or changes from a warm place to a cool one. The cough can keep the person from sleeping, and the center and left side of the chest are likely to be sore.

Spongia tosta: This remedy is indicated when a cough is loud, harsh, dry, and sounds like barking or sawing wood. The person may wake up feeling suffocated, as if the throat is plugged or the breathing passages are dry. Problems are usually made worse from being in a room that is too warm, or from lying down with the head too low. Talking aggravates the cough, and so does exposure to cold air and smoke. Sitting up usually helps, and drinking something warm or eating small amounts brings some relief. This remedy is often helpful during croup and asthma.

Sulphur: This remedy is indicated for burning, irritating coughs that get worse at night in bed, as well as for breathing problems during sleep. It can also be useful when a mild cough drags on for a week or more without getting worse, but without much improvement. Burning sensations, redness of eyes and mucous membranes, foul odors, and an aggravation from bathing are often seen in a person who needs this remedy.

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Homeopathy Dosage Directions

Select the remedy that most closely matches the symptoms. In conditions where self-treatment is appropriate, unless otherwise directed by a physician, a lower potency (6X, 6C, 12X, 12C, 30X, or 30C) should be used. In addition, instructions for use are usually printed on the label.

Many homeopathic physicians suggest that remedies be used as follows: Take one dose and wait for a response. If improvement is seen, continue to wait and let the remedy work. If improvement lags significantly or has clearly stopped, another dose may be taken. The frequency of dosage varies with the condition and the individual. Sometimes a dose may be required several times an hour; other times a dose may be indicated several times a day; and in some situations, one dose per day (or less) can be sufficient.

If no response is seen within a reasonable amount of time, select a different remedy.

For more information, including references, see What is Homeopathy? and Understanding Homeopathic Potencies.

Copyright © 1999 Healthnotes, Inc.

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Authors of the best-selling book The Natural Pharmacy

The information presented in Healthnotes Online is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over-the-counter medication is also available. Consult your physician, nutritionally oriented healthcare practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications.

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