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Aug 19

Foods to Relieve Coughing

In Chinese Medicine and many other cultures with a traditional healing modality, food is medicine. If you eat the right foods, it can help you feel better and alternatively, if you eat the wrong foods, it can make you feel worse. There are certain foods that can help you to feel better by relieving your coughing.

As with all conditions in Chinese Medicine, there are several possible causes for each condition.  For coughs, a few of the causes are due to what is called an “External Pathogenic Factor (EPF)”, which is what happens when we develop cold or flu-like symptoms. The EPFs that can invade us and cause a cough are Wind-Cold, Wind-Heat and Dry-Heat. We can choose the appropriate foods to alleviate our cough dependent on the EPF.

Cough due to Wind-Cold

Some signs and symptoms of a cough due to Wind-Cold are: cough, moderate amount of thin & white sputum, non-productive cough at initial stage, tight chest and stuffy nose with clear discharge and sneezing.

Some foods which help relieve this type of cough are:

Onion

Onions decreases phlegm and inflammation of the nose and throat, induces sweating and is a cure for a common cold. One way to use this to stop your cough is to simmer onions with a little bit of honey until they are soft and eat one every four hours.

Grapefruit peel

This has a warming energy and helps to resolve mucous conditions of the lungs and can treat lung congestion. To use the peel effectively, make a tea by simmering the fresh or dried peel for about 20 minutes.

Mustard greens

They have a warming thermal nature, influences the lungs, clears chest congestion and reduces mucous. For best effect from these, use mustard greens in a tea. Mustard greens are generally not found in a regular supermarket and in an Asian grocery store, there is a version known as “Gai Choi”. Please note that this shouldn’t be used in people with heat conditions.

Cough due to Wind-Heat

If you have a Heat type of cough, you may have thick yellow sputum which is difficult to cough up, thick nasal discharge, sore throat, thirst or fever, and these are the following foods which will help:

Pears

Pears have a cooling thermal nature which targets the lungs and eliminates heat and excess mucous. It stops coughing associated with heat in the lungs, moistens the lungs, throat and dryness in general and quenches thirst due to heat conditions.

Soybeans

They also moisten conditions of dryness, lowers fever, is highly alkalising and eliminates toxins from the body. They do need to be cooked well or fermented, otherwise, the soybean will inhibit the digestive enzyme, trypsin, which makes the soybean difficult to digest. Some examples of fermented soybean include tempeh, tofu, miso and soy sauce.

Turnips

Resolves mucous and other damp conditions, relieves coughing and due to its alkalising nature, sulfur and other factors, turnip also detoxes the body. The best way to use the turnip for dispersing lung congestion is to eat sliced raw turnip.

Cough due to Dry-Heat

For coughs resulting from Dry-Heat, your cough will be non-productive or there will be scanty and sticky sputum which is difficult to cough up, or severe cough with chest pain, as well as dryness of the nose and throat. For these types of coughs, you can relieve the cough with the following foods:

Lemons and limes

These fruits have a cooling thermal nature, are antiseptic, anti-microbial and mucous-resolving, which makes it great for colds, flus and hacking coughs. It’s to be avoided by people with too much stomach acid or ulcers and to be used cautiously for those with Blood deficiency signs. Begin with 1-3 lemons daily for a week and increase according to need and desire (9-12 lemons can be tolerated by a robust person who needs their properties).

Bananas

Bananas have a very cooling thermal nature, lubricates the lungs and generally benefits conditions of thirst and dryness. For dry coughs, eat bananas that have been sliced and cooked into a thick soup.

Figs

They are neutral in thermal nature and moistens the lungs. For dry coughs, drink half a cup of the water and eat 1-2 figs from a lightly cooked fig soup several times a day.

Make sure you get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids. A cough from a cold or flu should be gone in a week or two but if it is still lingering, a visit to a Chinese Medicine practitioner for some acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine will help to clear it before it becomes a chronic condition.