We at Hyfe, Inc., are a company devoted to working on tools to better understand the importance of cough. It is Hyfe’s intention in the future to seek regulatory approval for medical products that analyze cough in order that they may be used to diagnose, monitor, and facilitate better treatment of respiratory illnesses.
With its warming properties and natural ingredients, tea has long been considered a comforting elixir for cough relief. Tea is more than just a flavorful beverage; it contains compounds that can relieve common cough symptoms.
The steam from a cup of hot tea can help loosen congestion in the respiratory tract, while the natural properties of herbs and spices found in certain teas can have soothing effects on the throat and ease irritation.
With so many types of tea available, what teas are good for cough? This blog post will explore the soothing benefits of various teas, highlight some of the best tea blends to help alleviate cough symptoms, as well as provide useful tips on how to prepare each type of tea.
Green tea, made from the plant Camellia sinensis, is rich in antioxidants known as catechins. These antioxidants help strengthen the immune system, combat oxidative stress, and reduce inflammation in the respiratory system1. By supporting overall immune function, green tea can aid in fighting off infections that may cause or exacerbate coughing.
The warmth of a cup of green tea can help soothe an irritated throat and reduce discomfort caused by coughing2. The natural polyphenols, such as catechins, in green tea possess anti-inflammatory properties, which can help ease the irritation and inflammation of the respiratory tract. A study conducted in 20153 examined the effects of gargling with green tea after a surgical procedure involving intubation. The researchers discovered that while green tea did not alleviate hoarseness, it effectively decreased coughing.
Green tea's gentle, comforting nature will help individuals with dry, scratchy throats. You should brew green tea between 160–180°F/70–80°C. Green tea can be prepared in several ways:
Licorice tea is renowned for its naturally sweet flavor, making it a pleasant and popular alternative to traditional teas in China. The natural taste comes from glycyrrhizin, a compound found in licorice root.
Research indicates4 that consuming a comforting mug of licorice tea can provide anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antimicrobial benefits. This herbal tea is particularly effective in bolstering the immune system, inhibiting the growth of detrimental pathogens, preventing cell damage, and reducing respiratory infections.
Its properties5 help ease coughs, reduce throat irritation, and promote respiratory health. The soothing effect of licorice tea makes it popular during cold and flu seasons or when experiencing respiratory congestion.
When consumed in moderation, licorice root tea can relieve and promote respiratory health.
Menthol, a potent active compound found in mint, possesses antibacterial properties and can assist in mucus breakdown and throat soothing. Menthol is a component of peppermint which is a compound that acts as a decongestant and can help soothe an irritated throat. Peppermint tea can provide relief from cough and help clear the airways, making it easier to breathe.
Among different mint varieties, peppermint stands out for having the highest concentration of menthol. Peppermint oil, for instance, contains up to 55% menthol6, whereas spearmint has only trace amounts7. Studies indicate that whether consumed as tea8 or inhaled as a vapor, peppermint tea can effectively relieve cough symptoms.
Alternatively, you can try steam inhalation with peppermint tea. This method can assist in loosening chest congestion and alleviating coughing fits.
In both Chinese and Indian medicinal traditions, ginger root tea has long been utilized as a traditional remedy for coughs. This aromatic tea is known for its anti-inflammatory9 properties, and the spicy nature of ginger aids in opening up the airways, providing relief.
This suggests that ginger root tea could be a beneficial addition to a cough treatment plan.
Ginger has been used for centuries due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Ginger tea can help reduce inflammation in the airways and relieve congestion.
The beneficial effects of ginger have been documented in various studies, and scientific evidence supports the notion that ginger can help to relax the muscles in the airways. For example, a recent study involving 92 asthma patients10 found that ginger significantly reduced symptoms of nocturnal coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness.
Chamomile is well-known for its ability to induce a state of calmness and tranquility. This tea can help alleviate the symptoms of a dry and tickly cough, providing relief and aiding in a better night's sleep.
Research suggests that the inhalation of steam infused12 with chamomile extract has shown the potential to relieve common cold symptoms. However, additional studies are required to support these findings.
Preparing chamomile tea is a simple process:
Thyme is a herb used for centuries to treat respiratory ailments. It contains compounds that help loosen up the muscles of the respiratory tract and suppress coughing. Brewing a cup of thyme tea can relieve cough symptoms and promote healing.
For instance, in one study, the combination of thyme and ivy13 demonstrated significant benefits in reducing coughing fits compared to a placebo. The thyme-ivy combination reduced coughing by 21.1% more than the placebo, and the thyme-ivy combination group experienced faster symptom reduction and higher response rates than the placebo group.
Here's a simple method to prepare a soothing herbal remedy for cough and cold symptoms:
Lemon tea is a delightful and stimulating beverage that can be enjoyed hot or cold, depending on your preference. This lovely concoction, prepared with hot water and either lemon juice or slices of lemon, provides a generous dose of Vitamin C. By incorporating this tea into your routine, you can give your immune system the vital support it needs to combat colds and the flu 14 effectively.
Using fresh lemon slices:
Using lemon juice:
Lemon with other combinations:
Echinacea, a vibrant purple flower and popular traditional herbal remedy for respiratory infections, has garnered some scientific recognition for its potential benefits in reducing coughing15 and slightly reducing the changes of developing a cold16.
Research indicates that echinacea is beneficial for both dry and wet coughs, as it helps alleviate inflammation and promotes the opening of airways17.
A comprehensive analysis of 13 studies discovered that echinacea effectively reduced the length and intensity of cough symptoms18. It also exhibited a slight decrease in the likelihood of recurrent cough and common cold; however, other studies have reported conflicting findings.
To brew echinacea tea, use pre-made tea bags or dried echinacea roots, blossoms, or leaves. Here is an easy recipe:
If you want to improve the flavor, you can add honey or lemon. Serve it warm.
Elderberry's most common form, black elder, is rich in antiviral 19 and antimicrobial properties, as it contains valuable polyphenols within its dark berries. These beneficial compounds found in elderberries provide promising effects in supporting the body's defense against respiratory infections.
Elderberry syrups and extracts have exhibited the ability to reduce the duration of illness associated with the flu2021. However, there needs to be more specific research regarding the use of elderberry tea for treating common colds.
You can use both fresh and dried elderberries.
Honey tea is made by combining warm water and raw honey. Because of its medicinal characteristics, honey is frequently included in many cold and flu medicines.
This all-natural remedy relieves throat irritation from frequent coughing by acting as a cough suppressor22 and soothing sore throats23. Another study involving 105 children demonstrated honey was comparably efficient to cough medicine24 in alleviating cough symptoms.
By incorporating honey into your cough relief routine, you may experience excellent benefits that contribute to improved respiratory health and better sleep quality.
Additionally, you can incorporate honey into any of the cough-suppressant teas mentioned above. Adding honey to these teas can enhance their effectiveness in alleviating cough symptoms while enjoying a natural sweetness.
Despite the lack of specific scientific data supporting any specific type of tea for treating a cold, drinking various herbal teas when sick is typically advantageous.
However, even though herbal teas are generally considered safe, it's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional if you have pre-existing health conditions or are taking medications to ensure the tea won’t negatively interact with your medications or conditions.
Overall, maintaining hydration by consuming suitable drinks can aid recovery. Simply inhaling the steam emanating from a warm drink in your hands relieves congestion and promotes relaxation.
Marion is a freelance health and wellness writer with a passion for all things digital health. She loves diving deep into the latest research and trends in the industry and distilling them down into fun, relatable pieces that people can relate to. Whether you're a health nut or a tech geek, she is always looking for new and interesting ways to help readers access quality and evidence-based information.