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Homeopathy for Coughs


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Aah, seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness…and snotty noses and hacking coughs. In our neck of the woods anyway, the sudden drop in temperature, and definite move into autumn weather has brought on the expected coughs and colds. And while these infections usually only make us feel under the weather for a week or so, sometimes they can hit harder and longer. More often they are caused by a virus, so antibiotics are not a choice. And where the infection is bacterial, antibiotics will do the trick. But in the process they nuke all the flora in your gut, thereby reducing your overall immunity, not to mention the grander scale worry, that the more we use them, the faster we hurtle towards the doomsday of total antibiotic resistance. So for me, I use them as a last resort. But fear not. All is not lost. Because homeopathy has many, effective remedies for coughs, colds and influenza. In fact, it partly built its reputation on the back of its success with the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 (for the history of homeopathy in epidemics read click here). So with that in mind, I would like to share with you some of the top remedies for coughs.
First let me say, there are hundreds of remedies for coughs. So the trick is getting the right match to the symptoms e.g. whether a person is thirsty or thirstless, better for fresh air, or worse for a draft, how they are emotionally, key sensations etc. These are essential for making the right remedy choice. The devil is in the detail. And a quick tip – when reading these symptoms, you don’t have to have all of them to pick that particular remedy. Three or four key, distinguishing symptoms are usually enough.

Aconite Cough
Aconite is good for dry coughs and is no. 1 for croup in the early stages. The croup cough sounds like a seal bark – hollow, metallic, echoey, hoarse. Or in a normal cough, it may be irritating, short and tickly. It often comes on as a result of getting chilled – especially in a cold wind – which is quite common at the moment, given the sudden change in temperature, and the fact that some of us have been a little reluctant to let go of our summer garb and wrap up. It may also be the result of extreme fear or shock.

The cough may come on with a fever, and the person is restless, anxious sometimes, and thirsty for cold drinks. What is also characteristic about a person needing Aconite, is the sudden onset, often around midnight, which is when symptoms are always worse. They may also be worse for cold, dry air, and for being touched. And they feel better for fresh air.

Bryonia Cough
The Bryonia cold starts slowly, with sneezing and sometimes a headache as well. It then descends to the chest, where a dry, hard, irritating cough develops, coming in fits, often so painful, the person has to hold their chest, and sometimes leading to vomiting. The pain may be stitching, and their stomach also can get sore from coughing. If they have a headache, it tends to be a bursting pain, often behind the eyeballs and in the forehead, which feels better for pressure.
They are, in general, reluctant to move, because it makes them feel so much worse: If really bad, talking, eating, deep breathing, and even moving their head may be unpleasant. Bear with a sore head comes to mind, because they are irritable and want to be left in peace, and be as still as possible. Their symptoms deteriorate around 9 pm, and like Aconite, they are very thirsty – but for large amounts of water.

Hepar Sulphuris Cough
The person who needs this remedy may also have been exposed to a cold wind, like Aconite. And like Aconite, Hepar Sulph is big a croup remedy. In fact croup, which initially has Aconite characteristics may become a Hepar Sulph croup in later stages. The Hepar Sulph cough is worse both in the early morning, when it is loose, violent, and suffocative, and also in the evening / night, when it is dry. The mucus is thick and sticky, yellow and difficult to bring up, with a hoarse voice, sweating and sometimes retching / vomiting. They are really chilly and a coughing fit may be triggered by cold air in any form, be it outside, or even uncovering an arm while in bed. The only thing that really makes them feel better is being tucked up in a warm bed, with the windows firmly shut and the heating up high.
Emotionally, the person needing Hepar Sulph can be morose, very irritable, and over-sensitive – to rudeness, to pain, to pressure – and may be extremely difficult and obstructive to deal with while sick.

Phosphorous Cough
The Phosphorous cough is dry, tickling, and exhausting. It is worse during the evening until midnight, and can wake the person from sleep, often forcing them to sit up (like Pulsatilla – see below). And like many coughs, it can also be bad during the morning, but after getting up. What distinguishes a Phosphorous cough though, is the burning sensation in the chest, often accompanied by a sense of weight or pressure. When coughing, the person needing Phosphorous may bring up large amounts of sputum, especially in the morning. The sputum may range from clear, to white, to yellow, to green. But if it is blood-streaked, then that is a pretty clear indication they need Phosphorous. They feel chilly and their cough is also worse for cold air, and for any change of temperature / weather i.e. going from outside to inside, or from a hot room to a cold room. The person feels better for sleep, cold drinks and massage. They need sympathy, and are prone to being fearful and irritable, but are easily comforted and reassured.

Pulsatilla Cough
Keynotes of an infection needing Pulsatilla are copious, thick yellow-greenish catarrh, which may be difficult to cough up, and which becomes watery in the fresh air. The cough is usually loose in the morning, dry at night and worse around 2 pm or 4 pm, and often constant during the evening. At night the Pulsatilla cough may disturb the person’s sleep, sometimes forcing them to sit up. It is can also be accompanied by nausea and retching. They feel worse for being in a stuffy room, lying down, and in bed (once warm). They feel better for sitting up, for fresh air, and don’t have much thirst. Emotionally they may feel quite teary; and in the case of a child be clingy and whiny.

Guidelines for Taking Homeopathic Remedies
I recommend the 30c potency
Take 1 pill at a time in a clean, dry mouth 10 minutes away from food or drink
Suck the pill, do not swallow it or take it with water
The frequency of the dose increases the effect, NOT the number of pills you take at once
For very intense symptoms, you can take 1 pill every 15-30 minutes. If less intense, once every 1-2 hours, according to need. But, STOP if no result after 5-6 doses.
Also STOP as soon as you see marked improvement and RESUME if symptoms relapse
Go to your GP / A&E if you have any cause for concern

Where To Buy Homeopathic Remedies
Bigger branches of Boots may stock some of these remedies, but certainly not all of them.You can order online from: Helios Homoeopathy or Ainsworths.

The information in this article is not a substitute for medical advice and anyone with serious concerns about their health should consult an appropriate healthcare professional.

Sarah Davison

Sarah became a homeopath after 20 years in the commercial world, in sales and then innovation consulting. She combines her qualifications in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Psychology (Dip. Psych) and Coaching (Synectics & NLP), with homeopathy to provide an inside-out and outside-in approach to facilitating people’s health and wellbeing on all levels - physical, mental and emotional. She is Mum to a teenager, and loves to sing and paint in her spare time.

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DISCLAIMER - The contents of this website are for information only and are intended to assist readers in identifying symptoms and conditions they may be experiencing, The information on this website is not intended to be a substitute for taking proper medical advice, and should not be relied upon in this way. Always consult a qualified doctor or health practitioner. The author cannot accept responsibility for illness arising out of failure to seek medical advice from a doctor. A number of images on this website are courtesy of and by the following artists, nenetus, patrisyu and stock images




Sarah Davison 
The Coaching Homeopath

BSc (First Class Hons) Hom, LCHE,
RHom, MARH, Dip. Psych, BA.
07850 519373

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