The bug “De jour” is causing a cough that just won’t quit this season.

Thanks to the c-19, coughs now have a stigma.

And cause people to evacuate your area and treat you like you have the plague.

Needless to say my phone is blowing up with folks trying to kick their cough fast.

While I haven’t found a miracle cure for a cough…

… there are some things you can do to minimize or kick it faster.

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Conventional medicine has Tessalon Perles and cough syrup to suppress the cough.

And of course there are antibiotics and prednisone should things escalate to that level. 

A cough is there to kick something out and by suppressing it, you could be prolonging the cough in the long run.

Gotta think about these things.

But hey, I understand – if the cough is keeping you from sleeping or functioning during the day – ya gotta do what you gotta do!

There’s no judgement on my end. 

Catching illnesses before they go to full on coughs is crucial.

Having some of the things I recommend on hand in your cabinet is key…

…as it’s usually 3a or the weekend when you are fed up out of your mind wanting to kick the cough fast!

But what if the cough isn’t related to an illness or has been going on for so long you’re not sure what the heck is going on any more?

It’s time to sleuth out where the cough is coming from.

Look at is it coming down from the sinuses or up from the lungs?

Chronic coughs can also be silent acid reflux, mold, chemical toxicities and more, in this email I’m talking about coughs related to catching bugs. 

If it’s a sinus issue, it tends to be in the first stages of the illness or a chronic allergy, mold, or yeast thing.

Lungs tend to get mucus when something’s been going on for a while.

If you’re at the first stages of a cough – likely best to work on the sinuses.

First thing to try – stop all mucus producing foods and clean up your indoor air.

What?!

Yep, gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, corn, sugar and citrus – all things that promote mucus production.

The more glyphosate and chemicals in these things the more cough possibilities. 

If you’re going to continue to eat the mucus producing foods – get them organic at the very least.

Weird to think of food as a culprit yet, inflammation is inflammation – remove all sources to get the best chance possible to kick the bug.

I can’t say the V word or I’ll get banned but most bugs are V’s vs bacterial.

V’s turn into bacteria because of the mucus sitting in the sinuses or lungs.

While you’re getting those mucus producing foods out of the way it’s key to improve your indoor air quality.

The less your respiratory system has to deal with the better.

If you have an air purifier, use it and change out your home air filter too especially if it hasn’t been changed in the last 3 months.

Vaporizers are really helpful in this stage too and put it right next to you all day and where you sleep.

Add oils like oregano, thyme, tea tree or eucalyptus or blends like OnGuard (Doterra) or Breathe (Doterra or CAMPO Beauty).

If you can, get someone to vacuum the house if it’s been a while and do it up to 2-3x a week if you normally vacuum weekly.

Plus make sure your vacuum also has a HEPA filter on it so you’re not re-circulating all those allergens!

Wash your sheets and throw blankets to reduce dust mites.

Less mucus = less potential for cough and bug growth.

I realize that when you’re first getting sick the last thing you want to do is clean the house.

By all means, rest up and start up the vaporizer first.

Consider a humidifier, if you have a dry cough and you’re in a dry environment.

Second – get the bug moving out of the system.

Poke the beast and promote drainage and cough.

Eat spicy foods or add horseradish or wasabi to a meal.

Think Thai, Indian or Mexican spiced dishes.

I’ve been known to mix Wasabi and pickled ginger, no soy sauce and put it on a California Roll and let the sinuses flow.

Of course, get take-out and have a good rag or napkins on hand!

I like guaiafenesin, it’s the active ingredient in Mucinex.

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You can get it on it’s own if you’re not down with the additives in Mucinex.

If neither of those sound like fun I use Bi Yan Pian – a Chinese herbal formula to kick out mucus fast.

Either way they all work to get drainage going.

Yes, they will provoke cough in some cases and that’s ok for a few days to kick stuff out.

I also use Bronchial Wellness by Gaia Herbs or an Elderberry Syrup paired with steam inhalations of essential oils.

If you haven’t tried a steam inhalation – they are glorious when you’re stuffed up.

Boil 2 cups of water on the stove and remove from heat.

Put 10 drops of oregano, tea tree, thyme or eucalyptus essential oils in the water.

Place a towel over your head and keep at least 12” away from the top of the pot and let the steam get into your nose.

Cough it out, let your nose drain for 15-20 minutes.

While you might look like a hot mess after it…

…your pores will open and your skin will feel amazing.

Do this 2-3 times a day for 3 days to kick out the mucus.

Steam inhalation not your thing?

Try out the Naso-Simpatico (AKA Nice Nose) treatment, a Neil Med saline rinse or a neti-pot treatment 2-3 times a day for 3-5 days.

Put 1 tsp of olive, coconut or avocado oil in a glass jar and add 3-5 drops of oregano, thyme, tea tree or eucalyptus oil – mix and match or use one oil.

Dip one end of a Q-tip into the oil, put it up your nose just far enough to still be comfortable and twirl a few times.

Repeat on the opposite side using the other end of the Q-tip.

Do this 2-3 times a day for 3-5 days.

This may cause a slight nostril burn, if you’re sensitive drop to 2-3 drops of oil.

You can also mix up a spray of the essential oils and spray for 10 minutes in a hot shower.

Can be helpful but the other two are more effective.

Third – if none of the previous work, you want to do “all the things” or you feel like the mucus is in your lungs – apply essential oils and heat to your chest.

Use a carrier oil like jojoba, castor or coconut oil – 1 tbsp plus 5-8 drops of essential oil.

Breathe by CAMPO Beauty or Doterra works as does OnGuard by Doterra.

Apply 2-3 times a day.

Use the formulas in vaporizers throughout the day.

If you have red light therapy panels or a heating pad – apply before you use the oils to improve circulation to the lungs.

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Fourth – consider a breathing treatment using a nebulizer or a salt therapy

Hydrogen peroxide or glutathione can be compounded and placed in a nebulizer to work on getting to the lungs.

Nebulizers can be purchased online or through compounding pharmacies.

Hydrogen peroxide and glutathione can be made with a prescription.

There are DIY hydrogen peroxide mixes out there that you can find, ask your doctor how to do this at home (note: the doctor or medical provider has to be a naturopathic doctor or functional medicine practitioner that uses alternative options).

Many doctors are aware of glutathione and using it with a nebulizer.

Glutathione is your body’s natural janitor, it cleans up when your body is fighting bugs.

Sometimes you need a little boost of it to fully kick a critter out along with a cough.

These will require prescriptions but can be beneficial.

I have quite a few patients that have nebulizers in their home, just in case.

If a nebulizer isn’t your thing, there’s salt therapy!

Many spas now have salt therapy rooms AKA halo-therapy.

Small particles of dry purified salt are infused into the room.

The idea comes from a realization that the folks who worked in Polish salt mines rarely had respiratory conditions.

Salt is purifying in nature and antimicrobial.

The idea is the salt particles are nano-sized enough to get into the respiratory system and bind to critters and help carry them out.

While I’ve seen this trend come and go over the years with spas it seems to be making a comeback.

I recently interviewed a specialist in halo-therapy – Leo Tonkin, our podcast is timely and comes out tomorrow!

The concept of salt therapy is intriguing but I don’t have enough experience with it to stand behind it with 100% confidence.

What I do know is that Neil Med saline rinses work for the sinuses as do salt water throat gargles.

Which brings me to the option of taking Himalayan salt or any sea salt – 1/4 tsp in 1 oz of warm water and gargling at least 30-60 seconds and spitting out the water.

It’s an experience to say the least, but it does work to break up any mucus that’s lingering in the back of the throat like glue that’s ticking the throat just enough to provoke a cough.

Do the gargles at least two to three times a day to break up the mucus and carry out some of the critters.

Fifth – How do you know you need to seek medical advice?

  • If you have a fever over 103
  • You’re so tired and walking across the room exhausts you
  • Mucus is getting thick and it’s hard to breathe
  • The cough is preventing you from sleeping more than 3 days in a row
  • You have had a cough for over 6 weeks and it’s not decreasing in intensity and frequency.

More often then not you won’t need an antibiotic.

However, I will say that this season I’ve been prescribing a lot more Z-packs, Augmentin and Prednisone as well as inhalers than I’d like to. 

Cringe. 

It appears immune systems are not fully restored yet. 

When the cough is paired with breathing issues this is when it’s crucial to consider inhalation therapy of some sort.

Sometimes a bronchodilator or a steroid inhaler are worth it to end the madness.

Other times an antibiotic is worth it if the mucus isn’t going away, it’s getting thicker and turning darker yellow to green.

I’ve heard many medical practitioners saying that color doesn’t clearly indicate that there’s an infection. 

Well, color is significant – especially if it changes rapidly from clear to yellow to green. 

Chinese medicine has been linking color of phlegm to heat and severity of illness in the body. 

Color matters and indicates how well you’re fighting the bug – do pay attention to this!

There are Chinese herbal formulas for these situations but the ones that would work vary based on specific symptoms, best to contact a professional here.

Same goes for herbal remedies that can be used such as indigo, elecampne root and Spanish moss.

Keep in mind that herbs are classified into helping dry and wet coughs.

If you do go on an herbal adventure here, it’s best to talk with an herbalist or a naturopathic doctor to know what’s best for you.

Having an acupuncture treatment with cups placed over the lungs can be incredibly helpful as well and is one of my favorite recommendations to treat coughs.

While I don’t love giving antibiotics sometimes they are there to worth it, especially if the lungs become involved and you’re fatiguing fast.

Coughs are annoying, don’t brush them off as the faster you act the less they will linger.

Seek help within the first few days of a cough if it seems like you’re not improving or you’re not sure what to do as this will lessen your chance of having to use an antibiotic down the road.

Consider talking with an herbalist, naturopathic doctor or functional medicine practitioner to have a tool kit on hand to counter coughs fast!

Here’s to your health,

Dr. J

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