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All the spices I got for the cough remedy. Asian supermarkets rock for this!

All the spices I got for the cough remedy. Asian supermarkets rock for this!

Recently I caught a cold. This is the first time I had been sick in a number of years. And while I was miserable, I resolved to do this a little differently.

I have little trust with over the counter cold medications. Without exceptions, those items tend to mask issues rather than work to resolve them. They also leave me feeling groggy or light-headed or worse. I understand how many people choose to use those so that they can continue to deal with their regular schedules since “it’s just a cold”.  But I realized that in listening to my body, I had to accept the fact that I was indeed sick, and to give my body the rest and support it needed to regain my health.

Believe it or not, a fever is natural. It’s our bodies way of naturally combating illness. During an illness, the body will normally raise the temperature to fight infections since a higher body temperature makes the conditions less inviting for infections and inhibits their reproduction. Having said that a fever that is above 102 for adults and teens and above 103 or 104 for children is too high and needs medical attention.  But for a “normal” cold or flu temperature of 100-102, I’m actually content to let it run its course.

So with the exception of some ibuprofen I took for muscle aches, I resolved to use no drugs or over the counter cough remedies. I didn’t try to bring down my fever, and I didn’t try to do my regular routine. Instead I worked on helping my body to combat the congestion and coughing that I was experiencing. Luckily, this mostly took place over a weekend. So for most of the weekend, I rested and drank some herbal remedies that I made.

I hate coughing, most people who know me know that once I start coughing (for any reason), I’ll have that cough for at least a month. So finding a remedy that actually relieved my cough after three days was miraculous.  Note that if you have a productive cough (which is your body’s way of removing phlegm and mucous from your lungs) you should allow the coughing to continue.  For myself, my cough was non productive, since all the congestion was in my head.

A while back I had come into possession of a family recipe for relieving a cough. It’s an herbal remedy from India and while I didn’t know whether it would actually work or not, I decided to give it a try. And what do you know?  It worked.  Within 3 days I wasn’t coughing anymore. The ingredients are easily found in an Indian market or an Asian market that also contains Indian ingredients.


3 cups spring or filtered water
2 Tablespoons cumin seeds
2 Tablespoons cloves
5 sticks Ceylon cinnamon 2-3 inches long (Ceylon cinnamon is the flat bark, not the rolled bark which is actually cassia)
6 pieces star anise
4-5″ of ginger, peeled and chopped into small pieces
2 lemons


Cough Remedy on the stove

Cough Remedy on the stove



Combine everything but the lemons into a saucepan, bring to a boil and then cover with a lid and let it boil for one minute. Turn off heat and let it get lukewarm. Once its lukewarm, squeeze the lemons into it.  Let it sit for 15 minutes, then strain the liquid into a container (preferably glass).




The finished cough infusion

The finished cough infusion


Drink a cup of this every 3 hours for the next three days.  I just made a fresh batch every morning. If you can drink it without sweeteners that is best. Any sweeteners will help the infectious agents grow. I found it to be a very pleasant drink without using sweeteners. If you must sweeten it, use liquid stevia.

Other things to remember.

Drink lots of liquids but don’t drink dairy or juices. Stick with water, coconut water or chicken stock (remember, chicken stock, the Jewish penicillin). No fruit, or dairy or anything sweet during this time.  Refrain from eating red meat as well.
Don’t eat anything fried
Avoid caffeine in any form. (If you are suffering from asthma, you can drink coffee or tea since it will help open up your lungs, but not for a cold.)

The reality is that my cough disappeared in three days.  The last day was simply some intermittent coughing but I kept up with the remedy.

So Why Did This work?

The remedy didn’t try to inhibit my cough, instead it worked because each of those ingredients has a reason to be there.

  • Cumin seeds – work to reduce coughs and colds
  • Cloves – reduces irritation of the throat
  • Ceylon Cinnamon – beneficial to the lungs and helps clear congestion
  • Black Cardamom – reduces mucous
  • Star Anise – relieves dry coughs
  • Ginger – soothes sore throats. Contains oleoresin which can relieve coughing.
  • Lemon – Rich in Vitamin C and is an astringent which can help sore throats. (Note, use fresh lemons, lemon juice that has been pastuerized does not contain much Vitamin C since Vitamin C is killed by the pasteurization heat process)

So next time you have a cough, reach for the fresh lemons, fresh ginger and spices rather than that cough syrup.

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