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Immunity & Wellness

Dry Cough Home Remedies

Published on Jun 26, 2020


By Dr. Surya Bhagwati
Chief In- House Doctor
BAMS, DHA, DHHCM, DHBTC | 30+ Years of Experience

Dry cough home remedies

There’s no escaping the occasional cough, whether caused by airborne irritants or the flu. We all develop a cough from time to time. The type of cough can vary, being a productive or wet cough, or a nonproductive or dry cough. As the names suggest a wet cough involves increased phlegm and mucus production, which does not occur in the case of a dry cough. This type of cough often develops after an infection or can be caused by allergies, acid reflux, asthma, and exposure to environmental irritants. In some cases the causes may be unidentifiable and in rare cases could also be linked to an underlying health condition. Regardless of the cause, a dry cough can be painful to deal with and can also make it hard to get quality sleep. Your best course of action is to use home remedies and Ayurvedic medicine for dry cough relief.

ayurvedic kadha for dry cough

Why Use Natural Treatments and Home Remedies for Dry Cough

Many of us reach for OTC medications to treat coughs and colds, including a dry cough. While some of these medications can help treat respiratory disorders, most are ineffective against a dry cough. 

Decongestants are helpful when there is nasal and sinus congestion or constriction of the blood vessels that restricts air flow. Natural decongestants and Ayurvedic medicines for cough relief can provide the same decongestant effects without exposing you to any risk of side effects, making them a better choice. More importantly, it should be noted that the most commonly used OTC cough medications are expectorants. These medications are effective at treating wet coughs as they thin the mucus and phlegm in the airways. This is of course of not much help when dealing with a dry cough.

Another common medication used to treat coughs would be antitussives or cough suppressants. These medications work by blocking or reducing the cough reflex. While these medications are helpful, they are associated with a variety of side effects from increased daytime sleepiness and dizziness to nausea and vomiting. As home remedies and herbal cough medicines do not contain chemical or synthetic products, they do not pose any such side effect risk. 

Best Home Remedies for Dry Cough

1. Honey

Referred to as ‘madhu’ in Ayurvedic texts, honey has been an important ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine and folk remedies around the world for millennia. In addition to serving as a flavoring agent for common Ayurvedic churnas, honey can be used as a dry cough home remedy itself. This traditional use of honey is supported by modern clinical research, with one study even finding honey to be more effective than dextromethorphan – a common ingredient in OTC cough syrups. Honey’s anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties can also help reduce throat inflammation and irritation, improving recovery. You can add honey to other ingredients or use it as a healthy sweetener in warm water or herbal tea.

2. Pudina

Pudina or peppermint has been widely used in Ayurvedic medicine for cough and cold. Today, it is also used in conventional medications to treat these conditions because of the proven benefits of menthol – pudina’s main bioactive compound. A scientific review of antitussives also highlighted the role of menthol in dry cough treatments, especially through inhalation. Other research has also shown the herb to exhibit antispasmodic effects, reducing dry or hacking cough spasms. To use a pudina dry cough remedy, you can use the fresh leaves as garnishing in foods or steep them in boiling water along with other herbs used to make herbal tea. Lozenges containing pudina or menthol can also provide relief, but opt for purely natural choices. Additionally, you can use peppermint oil for steam inhalation, adding just a few drops of the oil to a bowl of boiling water. 

3. Turmeric

Haldi or turmeric is popular in home remedies across the subcontinent, but it is especially helpful for cough relief, whether dealing with a wet or dry cough. Turmeric can be consumed along with hot milk or ghee, with 1-2 teaspoons of powder added to a glass of milk. This Ayurvedic cough medicine remedy has found renewed support in recent decades as the herb has been found to possess strong therapeutic effects. Its powerful anti-inflammatory effects can reduce throat soreness and inflammation to relieve coughing. These effects are linked to its main bioactive component curcumin, which may also help in the treatment of bronchial asthma. 

4. Eucalyptus Steam Inhalation

Eucalyptus oil or nigiri taila, as its known in Ayurved, can also be a powerful natural remedy to fight a dry cough. Eucalyptus oil is another ingredient that has attracted widespread interest from researchers because of various therapeutic properties that can be applied in modern medicine. The herb’s oil is known to exhibit antimicrobial effects that can protect against infections, but it also has immune-stimulatory, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties that can help in the treatment of dry coughs. Studies have been supportive of its use in the management of conditions like asthma and bronchitis. Eucalyptus can be used in mouth wash or gargles, with just 2 drops added to a glass warm salt water. Steam inhalation is the most popular method of use and requires 2-3 drops of the oil in a bowl of boiling water.

5. Ginger

Ginger is another herbal ingredient that is highly valued in Ayurvedic medicines for cough and cold as it helps not just with phlegm reduction, but also with fighting infections and reducing inflammation. These anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects are linked to gingerols, the active components in ginger. Research shows that ginger and ginger extracts can work like a bronchodilator, relaxing the airway smooth muscle to reduce irritation, coughing, and breathlessness. Ginger can be used to prepare herbal teas along with honey or you can even drink the freshly extracted juice or chew on some ginger. 

6. Garlic

Garlic is another ingredient that you will find in practically every kitchen, but it’s more than a powerful flavoring herb. It is regarded as one of the best natural defenses against heart disease, but studies show that it can also help in the treatment of more mundane conditions like the dry cough. It is helpful because of its immonomodulaory, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. Although garlic is most effective at cold and cough prevention, you can also use it as a dry cough remedy. You can add a few cloves to boiling water when preparing a herbal tea, even combining it with ginger and honey.

7. Onion Juice

Onions are another staple in every Indian kitchen, making this a very convenient remedy. Most people don’t realize that onions don’t just add flavor to food, but can also be therapeutic. Studies show that onion extract has an anti-inflammatory effect and relaxes the trachea, which can reduce or stop coughing spasms. These benefits may be linked to sulfur compounds in onions. This value of onions as a dry cough remedy has long been recognized in Ayurved and it’s worth a try. You can crush and extract onion juice, mixing it with equal parts of honey. Have a tablespoon of the mixture at least twice or thrice a day.

8. Thyme

Thyme is thought to be beneficial for dry cough due to its expectorant properties. This means that it can help to loosen and expel mucus from the lungs. It also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which may help to reduce infection and inflammation in the respiratory tract.

9. Tulsi 

Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, is an Ayurvedic herb that has been used for centuries in India for its vast array of health benefits. Tulsi is an expectorant, meaning it helps to expel mucus from the respiratory tract, making it an effective remedy for dry cough. In addition, tulsi is a natural antibacterial agent, helping to fight off infection and speed up the healing process.

10. Cardamom 

Cardamom is an effective ayurvedic remedy for dry cough. It helps to soothe the throat and clear the respiratory tract. Cardamom is also helpful in reducing the inflammation of the respiratory tract.

While these traditional Ayurvedic dry cough remedies are highly effective, you shouldn’t ignore a persistent cough. If you find no relief even after consistent usage of home remedies and Ayurvedic medicine, make it a point to consult your health care provider. 

Quick Tips to Prevent Dry Cough

If you're suffering from a dry cough, there are a few things you can do to prevent it from getting worse. 

First, drink plenty of fluids. This will help thin the mucus in your lungs and make it easier to cough up. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can dehydrate you and make your cough worse. 

Second, use a humidifier in your home to keep the air moist. This will help keep your throat and lungs from drying out. 

Third, stay away from irritants like smoke and dust. If you can't avoid them, wear a mask to protect yourself. 

Finally, get plenty of rest. A dry cough can be exhausting, so make sure you're getting enough sleep.

When to Consult a Doctor?

If your cough is accompanied by a fever, shortness of breath, or chest pain, you should see a doctor right away. These may be signs of a more serious condition, such as pneumonia. 

If your cough is dry and persistent, it might be caused by postnasal drip, asthma, or GERD. See your doctor if it interferes with your daily activities or sleep, or if you have any other concerns like nose bleeds while coughing, extreme weakness, and low-blood oxygen levels.



  • Henatsch, D et al. “Honey and beehive products in otorhinolaryngology: a narrative review.” Clinical otolaryngology : official journal of ENT-UK ; official journal of Netherlands Society for Oto-Rhino-Laryngology & Cervico-Facial Surgery vol. 41,5 (2016): 519-31. doi:10.1111/coa.12557
  • Warren, Michael D et al. “The effect of honey on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for children and their parents.” Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine vol. 161,12 (2007): 1149-53. doi:10.1001/archpedi.161.12.1149
  • de Sousa, Albertina Antonielly Sydney et al. “Antispasmodic effect of Mentha piperita essential oil on tracheal smooth muscle of rats.” Journal of ethnopharmacology vol. 130,2 (2010): 433-6. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2010.05.012
  • Gul, Parveen, and Jehan Bakht. “Antimicrobial activity of turmeric extract and its potential use in food industry.” Journal of food science and technology vol. 52,4 (2015): 2272-9. doi:10.1007/s13197-013-1195-4
  • Elaissi, Ameur et al. “Chemical composition of 8 eucalyptus species' essential oils and the evaluation of their antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral activities.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine vol. 12 81. 28 Jun. 2012, doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-81

Dr. Surya Bhagwati
BAMS (Ayurveda), DHA (Hospital Admin), DHHCM (Health Management), DHBTC (Herbal Beauty and Cosmetology)

Dr. Surya Bhagwati is an established, well-known Ayurvedic expert with over 30 years of experience in treating and consulting in the field of Ayurveda. She is known for the timely, efficient, and patient-centred delivery of quality health care. The patients under her care receive a unique holistic treatment comprising not only medicinal treatment but also spiritual empowerment.

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