Close up of woman coughing

Q & A: How can I treat a cough naturally?

“I have been struck down with a nasty cough. It’s not a cold as I don’t have a runny nose or other cold symptoms, although I do have mucous in my throat. I’ve repeatedly tested negative for Covid-19 so I think it must be a viral infection. As antibiotics won’t help, I’m not sure what to do.” 

Suzie Sawyer, Clinical Nutritionist answers: 

Supporting your immune system

A range of immune-boosting foods

With regards to viruses, it’s all about supporting the immune system and reducing inflammation within the body. While this is a natural part of the immune system response, it’s also the reason for your symptoms.  Nutrients which uprate production of white blood cells that help fight viruses are vitamins A, C, and D, folic acid and the mineral zinc.  While it’s always a food-first approach, supplementation is key in these situations to provide the body with much more of the immune-supportive nutrients to help fight off viruses more effectively.

Increase your fruit and vegetable intake

A range of colourful fruits and vegetables

It’s very important to be eating lots of fruits and vegetables to ensure a variety of colour and nutrients  as well as for their high vitamin C and antioxidant content. Forget your ‘five-a-day’, it’s 10 or more that are needed in these situations.

To this end, juicing is great; you might lose the fibre content, but you’ll still be getting loads of nutrients. Let your imagination run wild in terms of what you might throw into the juicer.  And add ginger if you can, as it has amazing anti-viral qualities.  You might also like to sip on warm lemon and ginger water, with manuka honey, throughout the day to help soothe your throat.

The importance of Vitamin D

Vitamin D and a sunshine written into the sand on beach

Hopefully, you will have already been taking a vitamin D supplement, as per Public Health England advice, but do ensure you’re now taking 50 micrograms daily until things start to improve.

Gut health

Torso of a woman in white t-shirt making the shape of a heart with her hands, over her stomach.

The gut microbiome plays a key role in the immune system, so feeding the life inside is very important. Natural yoghurt and fermented foods such as kefir, tempeh and sauerkraut are perfect choices, but you could also take a probiotic for a while to ensure all is in great shape within.

Consider salt crystals

I would also recommend investing in a Salt Pipe or inhaling Himalayan Salt Crystals. There is plenty of research and years of anecdotal evidence that they can be very helpful in these situations.  Indeed, many asthma sufferers wouldn’t be without them.  You can find them online or in good health food stores.

Black Elderberry

I’ve talked about fruits and vegetables but black elderberry, which is not easy to find in the shops, is widely available in supplement form and has loads of research on its antiviral properties. I would also recommend taking a high potency multivitamin daily to top up on specific anti-viral nutrients.

Balance exercise and relaxation

A woman relaxing on a yoga mat

Lastly, the immune system needs to be properly rested. Try and get plenty of relaxation and restorative sleep and reduce alcohol and sugar intake as they burden the immune system.  Also get plenty of fresh air and gentle exercise.  You might need to take extra care and avoid going out for too long if it’s cold, but any gentle movement helps stimulate lymph around the body, encouraging the removal of toxins.

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