Fight Coughs Without Hallucinogens This Winter
- Is the hallucinogen in your medicine cabinet helping your cough? Probably not
- Americans spend billions on worthless treatments. Are you one of them?
- Use this synthetic-free recipe to combat cough naturally
“Are you OK?”
“Uhhh…(hack, hack, cough, hack)…maybe…”
“You should probably do something about that cough.”
“Yeah, I know. But cough syrup makes me drowsy and never seems to work.”
“I hear ya. It doesn’t really work for me either… but I think I might be getting a cough too.”
This is a conversation between two friends I overheard at the pharmacy yesterday.
Shortly after, they each bought a bottle of over-the-counter (OTC) cough syrup.
It made me chuckle, as I have had similar conversations followed by similar actions in past cough and cold seasons.
But then I started to think about it.
Does over-the-counter cough syrup actually work?
I haven’t taken it in about 10 years. But when I did take it, I don’t recall it having great results.
In fact, I more clearly remember being groggy and waking up with a headache after taking the first (and typically only) dose of it. (Lucky me though — there are worse side effects associated with the active ingredient in OTC cough syrups. I’ll discuss these in a moment.)
After my single dose, the rest of the bottle would sit in my medicine cabinet and collect dust as it waited to expire and, ultimately be disposed of.
Unfortunately, as the conversation I heard in the pharmacy points out, it seems I’m not the only one who has been let down by the ineffectiveness of over-the-counter cough syrups.
And there is science and expert opinion to validate my and the other pharmacy patrons’experiences.
We will get to that, and I will share a natural cough syrup recipe cough in just a bit.
Let’s first dive into the ingredients and potential dangers of OTC cough syrups.
Did You take PCP? Nope, Just Cough Syrup
The active ingredient in OTC cough syrups is dextromethorphan (DXM). DXM is a synthetic ingredient indicated as a cough suppressant and expectorant. It’s also used to alleviate sinus congestion, allergies, runny nose, and itchy throat.
As you may have already heard, DXM also has a reputation for recreational use as a hallucinogen.
In fact, its hallucinogenic powers rival those of PCP and ketamine. As it’s become more popular, powder and pill forms of DMX have become available for purchase on the internet. The these forms are snorted or ingested, as they are easier and quicker to consume than liquid forms.1
Sometimes DXM abuse is severe enough to cause withdrawals, including anxiety, vomiting, insomnia, and diarrhea.1
While most of us will not likely have to face the discomfort of DXM withdrawal, it seems a bit risky to ingest a substance capable of such negative health endpoints.
Common side effects for the recommended dosage can include confusion, headache, stomach pain, nausea, dizziness, and drowsiness.2
These aren’t rare medication side effects, but I would rather not run the risk of having a foggy brain or stomach ache if I have other options.
Furthermore, you might be taking this risk with no added health benefits.
Dr. Norman Edelman, M.D., a senior scientific adviser at the American Lung Association, reports:
“We’ve never had good evidence that cough suppressants and expectorants help with cough, but people are desperate to get some relief. They’re so convinced that they should work that they buy them anyway.”3
Evidence exits to support Edelman’s statement. There has not been any new approved cough remedy in over 50 years.
Health care analysts Cochrane did a review of 29 trials that involved 4835 people and reported this:
“We found no good evidence for or against the effectiveness of OTC medications in acute cough.”4
While Cochrane’s finding didn’t find OTC medications to be effective or ineffective, you may not want to take a synthetic medication with the possibility of such negative side effects without good evidence it can provide some relief.
And why waste your money?
Americans spend over $4 billion on cold and cough medications every year.5
Dr. Aaron Glatt, a spokesman for an Infectious Disease Society of America reported to USA Today:
“In a nutshell, there’s nothing that work. There’s a tremendous industry out there, and some people really swear by them. But there really aren’t great studies to show any benefit.”5
So why do most of us feel we have to shell out money every cough season for something we are probably better off putting in the trash than into our bodies?
For one-third of cold sufferers, the placebo effect may be working to alleviate symptoms.5
This may be relatable for many of us.
I certainly feel better if I take my homemade cough syrup when I hear the slightest rattle in my chest.
Whether this natural concoction is working or it’s a placebo, I will never really know.
All the ingredients have healthy properties and are in no way synthetic, so even if it’s not helping my cough biologically, it’s adding to my overall health and is certainly not causing any negative side effects (or causing me to make me hallucinate).
In fact, a study has proven that honey may reduce coughing in children over the age of one year (honey is not suggested for children under one year of age). It make sense that it may have the same effect in adults.6
Also, coconut oil has anti-microbial and anti-viral properties. Ginger provides anti-inflammatory agents and the lemon will give you a shot of vitamin C.
Now I will share how to make it.
Lemon-Honey-Ginger-Coconut Cough Syrup
- 1 cup of filtered water
- 1/3 cup of local honey
- 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger (ground can be used as well)
- 2 tablespoons of unrefined coconut oil
- Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon.
- Bring water to boil in a medium saucepan.
- Reduce to simmer and add in the ginger.
- Let the mixture reduce by half and take of the burner.
- Add in honey and coconut oil and mix thoroughly.
- Squeeze in the lemon juice, mix, and let cool.
- Store the liquid in an airtight container (I use a mason jar) in the refrigerator.
This syrup is good for two months. Because the coconut oil will solidify in the fridge, be sure to stir thoroughly before taking.
I usually take a generous teaspoon when I’m suffering the beginning stages of a cough and as needed with a full-blown cough.
I also add a teaspoon to a cup of hot tea for a cough-fighting boost.
If you have any cough remedies you would like to share, write me! email@example.com
Managing editor, Living Well Daily
P.S. If you need a quick fix and don’t have time to make the syrup, you can always take a tablespoon or two of honey.
Written By Natalie Moore
Natalie Moore is a dedicated health researcher with a passion for finding healthy, natural, and science-based solutions. After a decade of direct healthcare experience in western and natural medicine, she was involved in public health research before joining Living Well Daily.
View More Free Articles
Dear Living Well Daily Reader, About 6.2 million adults in the United States have heart failure. When you visit your mainstream doc’s office, he’ll tell you that heart failure is the result of clogged arteries, high blood pressure, diabetes, being overweight, lung problems, and heart valve problems. It can make you feel like your health...
I have arthritis in my spine. What would you suggest to help manage it? –George from Cedar Rapids, IA George, Believe it or not, many people learn that they have spinal arthritis as they age. It’s very common. There’s a lot you can do to help keep it from advancing or even reverse some of...
Dear Living Well Daily Reader, There is a plague of anxiety sweeping the nation. And who could blame us? Anyone with half a brain SHOULD feel anxious about the state of the world. But like any other epidemic, just because something is going around doesn’t mean you should accept it. More importantly, having anxiety does...
Dear Living Well Daily Reader, If you or someone you love suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), you already know how the disease can turn your life upside down. The stiffness and mobility problems slowly strip away your independence… and leave you in pain. Talk to your mainstream doc and he’ll just shrug their shoulders –...
Dear Living Well Daily Reader, If you’re a woman, chances are you have heard about the BRCA gene (BReast CAncer gene). Scientists have known for a long time that a mutation in one of two breast cancer genes, BRCA1 or BRCA2, increases the risk of getting breast cancer. But, men, listen up – just because...
Dear Living Well Daily Reader, Some people might shrug when you tell them you have knee pain… but that’s only if they haven’t experienced firsthand. Chronic pain from osteoarthritis is no joke— it can destroy your life. Joint pain makes moving incredibly difficult and can keep you from doing the things you love. Before you know it,...
Dear Living Well Daily Reader, Inflammation is supposed to be a normal response for your body. It’s one of the key defenses protecting you. Inflammation can sometimes be our friend… when it helps fight off infections and clears away debris, that is. The problems start when inflammation blazes out of control or lasts longer than...
I have psoriasis, and I was wondering what supplements or natural treatments there are out there. –Bill from Riverside, CA Bill, As you probably know, psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease where the body attacks the skin as if it were a foreign invader. Psoriasis affects about two percent of the U.S. population. Normal, healthy...
Dear Living Well Daily Reader, I’m on a personal mission to rescue coffee from the hands of the nutritional puritans who think that anything fun is not good for you. Despite what the mainstream would have you believe, the news on coffee has improved in recent years. Researchers have pinpointed many powerful plant nutrients, like...
Dear Living Well Daily Reader, Some suggest pretty complicated ways to keep your brain healthy as you age. Going back to college… doing complicated puzzles… taking what feels like 30 bottles of pills a day… It can make you feel like giving up before you’ve even started! But what if there was something MUCH easier...