Do you still have a dry cough that is still lingering after a bout of the flu? If so, you are not alone, lots of my patients this time of year have fully recovered from a viral upper respiratory tract infection except for a persistent cough that lingers.
What causes the cough to linger and how can you finally get rid of it? Besides being annoying and painful, constantly coughing can stress the airways and potentially expose the area to prolonged inflammation and re-infection.
The causes of post-viral cough may be a combination of the below and other factors:
-Airway hyper-responsiveness and constriction
-Tissue damage that exposes nerves and makes them more susceptible to triggering the cough reflex
The Naturopathic Treatment Approach
1-Nebulized or Liposomal Glutathione
Glutathione is found in the epithelial lining fluid in your respiratory tract and is a key factor in defense against infection and oxidative damage of your airways. Glutathione is a powerful anti-oxidant that both protects and heals the epithelium which gives protection to nerve roots that trigger the cough and gag reflexes.
Demulcent herbs contain mucilage to sooth dry, irritated tissue. A personal favorite of mine is Slippery Elm which you can find sold as lozenges under the Thayer’s label at health food stores. Marshmallow root (Althaea Officinalis) is another preferred demulcent which can be taken in tincture form.
Anti-cough herbal preparations have been around a long time, and modern science has validated their ability to reduce respiratory spasm and bronchoconstriction. A few herbs to consider are wild cherry bark (prunus serotina) and licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra), both of which can be used to make a very enjoyable tea. Wild cherry bark is in one of my favorite tea’s, Buddha Tea’s-Divine Immunity Blend which is available on my online store.
Oregon grape root (Mahonia aquifolium) is a powerful anti-microbial due to the presence of berberine. Native Americans used the berries, bark and roots of the Oregon grape plant parts to treat a wide variety of human aliments, including syphilis, arthritis, and itchy eyes. Oregon grape can help in the fight against multi-drug resistant bacteria (see the link below for info on how berberine is being used to treat MRSA), this is an anti-microbial that needs to be in your medicine cabinet. It can be found in tincture form, following the label instructions on the Wise Woman brand which uses wild-crafted dry root bark of Mahonia spp. in a base of spring water, organic alcohol, and 5% glycerine, you would take 10-60 drops in water, 1-4 times per day.
Other anti-microbial herbs are old man’s beard (Usnea spp), osha (Ligusticum porteri), and goldenseal (hydrastis canadensis).
Diffused eucalyptus essential oil can have broncho-dilating effects. Eucalyptol is the chemical in eucalyptus that is a proven to increase mucociliary beat rates which is a measure of how your mucosal passages move mucus through the larynx and swallowed. Other herbs to be considered here include pleurisy root and lungwort.
All of the herbs I discuss in this article have a multitude of uses for the naturopathic doctor, and can act synergistically when blended to increase the healing potential of the individual herbs. When patients present with post-viral cough I typically blend 6-8 herbs into a custom herbal tincture to address the root cause of the problem and its symptoms.
Herbal medicine has an excellent safety record but readers should note that drug-herb interactions and the potential for allergic responses could present a dangerous situation and you should consult a qualified health professional before starting herbal medicine.
Berberine is effective against MRSA: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16379555
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