Has winter left you with a scratchy throat and nagging cough? If you are like most people, you might already have reached for that bottle of cherry-flavored over-the-counter (OTC) cough syrup. According to the American Chemistry Society (ACS), a nonprofit chartered by the U.S. Congress, you’re not alone. Every year thousands of people worldwide spend billions of dollars on cough medicines. According to the Drug News Store report, cough syrup sales were worth almost $580 million in 2015.
Back in the old days, your OTC cough syrup may have consisted of alcohol, cannabis, morphine, chloroform, or even heroin. Luckily those days are over, but are today’s options any better and do they work as well as we think they do?
ACS called the active ingredients in today’s cough syrups “more reasonable.” However, we at Natural News have our doubts. Most of these syrups include synthetic chemicals which have been linked to serious adverse health effects. (RELATED: Learn more about natural medicine at Medicine.news)
Does cough syrup actually work?
The ACS analyzed both the chemistry behind cough medicines and data from previous scientific research into the efficacy of those drugs and published its findings in a video earlier this month.
The researchers analyzed systemic reviews and found very little evidence that cough syrups are effective at doing their job. They reported that these medications are generally no better than a placebo. In one of the systematic reviews they looked at, which included 19 previously conducted studies, 15 showed no benefit or the results were conflicting. All other reports showed similar results. The researchers concluded that there is no real evidence for or against the effectiveness of OTC drugs in an acute cough.
Furthermore, these OTC meds can have deteriorating side effects and even lead to death when taken in larger doses. Every year, thousands of children under 12 end up in the emergency room due to accidental cough medicine overdose, reported the ACS.
And if you thought you were better off with treatments based on Echinacea, vitamin C or zinc, the ACS researchers noted that aside from the placebo effect, these remedies will likely not help soothe a cough either. Although upping your vitamin C levels and boosting your immune system may help prevent a viral infection and winter cough in the first place.
What you should do instead
Though OTC cough syrups may help you sleep better, it is a persistent and nagging cough you want to get rid of, right? So, what should you do instead?
- Drink plenty of fluids to thin out extra mucus and reduce the cough reflex.
- Use a humidifier or take a steamy shower to reduce congestions.
- Honey and lemon have been used for ages to treat a cough and science backs it up. Especially kids fare well by this age-old remedy. It soothes the back of their throats which eases a cough. And it’s delicious, especially in hot tea.
- Cough drops have proven their effectiveness. They help to get saliva flowing which soothes a sore or irritated throat.
- Or why not diffuse the healing aroma of essential oils throughout your home to find relief? The potent plant compounds in some essential oils can suppress a cough and enable you to breathe better, especially when you are asleep. Some of the best essential oils to treat a cough include lemon, frankincense, lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, thyme, rosemary, tea tree and thieves oil.
A cough is usually a viral infection that will go away without any treatment after a week or two. However, when a cough persists for more than a few weeks, the ACS recommends seeing your doctor. (RELATED: Learn more about natural remedies at Remedies.news)