Before I started learning homeopathy, I thought a cough was a cough. Well, I guess I knew croup* had a different sound (a bark)… but I never thought about all the many different kinds of cough: wet coughs, dry coughs, productive coughs, croaking cough, hacking cough (I guess I had heard of that one, too), rattling coughs. Coughs that wake you from sleep, coughs that keep you from falling to sleep. Coughs that are worse when your standing; coughs that are worse when you’re lying down. Coughs that are worse from eating and coughs that are better from eating. Coughs that are better from drinking and coughs that are worse from drinking. Explosive coughs. Exhausting coughs. The list goes on! Robin Murphy's Repertory, version 3 lists 2,672 entries under "cough."
As usual in homeopathy, the closer you can match the specifics of the cough to the remedy, the more likely the remedy is to work its magic.
Dr. Saptarshi Banerjea does a nice job mimicking the various coughs in his 4-1/2 minute video (Banerjea 2017) and is well worth a listen to learn the difference between these cough sounds.
If you have a non-specific cough and are not sure where to start, Boiron’s Chestal Cold & Cough** nicely addresses a variety of coughs. Below is an incomplete overview of these remedies and the primary coughs they address.
Dulcamera: particularly good for a cough made worse by damp, cold air and coughs worse following exertion. Coughs that leave you hoarse. A forcible, violent, hard cough.
Ferrum phos: Dry coughs. Coughs during fever. Coughs with a runny nose. Coughs with irritation in the chest or trachea (windpipe). Tickling coughs. Coughs with blood streaked expectoration (the coughing up of phlegm).
Hydrastis canadensis: A cough which is better when lying down. A rattling cough. An incessant cough, day and night. Coughs with a bursting headache pain.
Kali bich: (“Bich” rhymes with “thick” and that’s a handy thing to remember with this remedy.) Back pain or pain in the sternum (breastbone) when coughing. A croupy* cough. A cough from eating. A hoarse cough (as opposed to hoarseness caused by coughing mentioned above, Dulcamera). A cough when you wake up in the morning. Cough with mucus in the chest or larynx (voice box) or a cough with pain in the larynx. Coughs which are better for expectoration.
Nux vomica: Coughs with pain in the abdomen or stomach (either during or following the cough); or, a painful cough, in general. Cough with breathing difficulty. Coughs made worse by cold air or by being cold. Coughs with catarrh (excessive mucus). A distressing cough. A dry cough during a fever (more specific than Ferrum phos’ cough during fever). Coughs occuring after midnight. A cough from eating (like Kali-bich above). An irritable cough. Paroxysmal (sudden, periodical) coughs, especially while still in bed in the morning. Coughs during teething.
*Croup is an acute viral disease, usually occurring in children from 6 months to 5 years and marked by a resonant barking cough, (sounding like a seal), and varying degrees of respiratory distress (Venes and Clarence Wilbur Taber 2013).
Boiron's Chestal Cough and Cold is a good place to start. If you need further help kicking a cough, book an acute appointment and we'll see if we can get you some relief.
Julia Coyte, CHom
Classically Practical homeopath
Be sure to check out the research links below for homeopathy's effects on coughs and colds.
** I have no affiliation with this company, I just like their products.
Allaert, F.-A., Villet, S., Vincent, S., and Sauve, L., 2018. Observational study on the dispensing of cough syrups to children with acute cough by community pharmacists in France. Minerva Pediatrics [online], 70 (2).
Banerjea, Dr. S., 2017. Listen the Cough Sounds & Diagnose the Remedy (Part 1) [online]. www.youtube.com.
Murphy, Robin, Repertory Version 3, accessed through RadarOpus 2.2.16.
Venes, D. and Clarence Wilbur Taber, 2013. Taber’s cyclopedic medical dictionary. [22nd ed., ISBN: 9780803629776]. Philadelphia, Pa.: F.A. Davis.
Voß, H., Michalsen, A., and Brünjes, R., 2018. Efficacy and tolerability of a complex homeopathic drug in children suffering from dry cough-A double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial. Drug Research [online], 68 (08), 444–449.
Zanasi, A., Cazzato, S., Mazzolini, M., Ierna, C. M. S., Mastroroberto, M., Nardi, E., and Morselli-Labate, A. M., 2015. Does additional antimicrobial treatment have a better effect on URTI cough resolution than homeopathic symptomatic therapy alone? A real-life preliminary observational study in a pediatric population. Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine [online], 10 (1), 25.
Zanasi, A., Mazzolini, M., Tursi, F., Morselli-Labate, A. M., Paccapelo, A., and Lecchi, M., 2014. Homeopathic medicine for acute cough in upper respiratory tract infections and acute bronchitis: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Pulmonary Pharmacology & Therapeutics [online], 27 (1), 102–108.
Julia Coyte, CHom
I am passionate about homeopathy and I love sharing this passion. Having a working knowledge of homeopathy shouldn't be kept a secret. If parents have the ability to help their children when they have minor ailments, life just gets better for everyone. That is the purpose behind Ruminating on Remedies.