Home Remedies 16 Best Natural Expectorants for Cough Relief and Chest Congestion

16 Best Natural Expectorants for Cough Relief and Chest Congestion

by Dr. Joe Morales

At any one time, you could have had a cough. With the symptoms that come with it such as coughing, runny nose, teary eyes and others, coughs can be quite inhibitive. For that reason, you need a cough expectorant as a solution.

  • Cough can leave you with a sore throat, lost voice and even sometimes an itchy throat.
  • Though there are medications that can help stop a cough fast, some relief remedies can be made at home.
  • We have listed 16 most potent natural expectorants to help get rid of a cough fast and reduce chest congestion.

What is an expectorant?

An expectorant is a substance that helps in breaking down and thinning of mucus and phlegm to make breathing easier.

Best natural expectorants for cough

What are the best natural expectorants for cough relief?

Cough expectorants can be natural remedies or over the counter medications.

The effectiveness of a cough relief remedies will depend on if there are any other complications associated with the symptom.

If it is a simple cough and not something like bronchitis or tuberculosis, most home remedies for cough and chest congestion will work effectively.

How do expectorants work?

Expectorants work by reducing the thickness of mucus to make it easier to breath.

Relief is triggered by increasing the amount of water in the mucus. You will thus have thinner mucus which is easy to clear compared to the thick mucus that causes chest congestion when you have a cough.

In general, these natural cough remedies will soothe the respiratory tract given the clearer and lighter mucus secreted.

16 Best Natural expectorants

Expectorant herbs and other natural remedies are preferred to over the counter medications for cough due to fewer or no side effects in the remedies.

Over the counter medicine may have some chemicals which could have side effects on the user. They will often have colors, preservatives and other chemicals all of which may pose a risk to your heath.

If you are seeking how to get rid of cough naturally, you can use the following natural expectorants:

1. Licorice

Use licorice for cough relief

Use licorice.

As an expectorant, licorice root is one of the best in this regard. With this natural cough remedy, you can do away not only with the coughing, but also with the inflamed and irritated throat.

Using licorice root is quite simple. Here’s how to get rid of chest congestion and cough at home using licorice.

  1. In a tea cup, mix hot water with a teaspoon of licorice root.
  2. Wait for about 10 minutes before taking the tea.
  3. Take the tea three times a day for the best results.

As a cautionary measure, those with high blood pressure should avoid taking licorice root for its negative effects on such.

2. Essential oils

A lot of essential oils can relieve chronic cough and congestion. You can use them to treat coughing. Most essential oils can be used in the form of a steam treatment or other form.

Among the most common essential oils are eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint, clove and many others.

If you have the right essential oils, you can use them in several ways to do away with the coughs.

  • Massage the oil on your chest when you mix it with a carrier oil.

If you do not prefer massaging the oil, here’s how to use it to clear a cough fast.

  1. Add essential oil to steaming hot water.
  2. Cover your head and shoulders with a towel.
  3. Still covered by the towel, lean over the mixture of essential oils and hot water and inhale the mixture for about 5 minutes.
  4. You can then remove the towel.

Do this a few times a day for several days until you have gotten rid of the cough.

3. Chicken soup

Chicken soup can help relieve cough

Chicken soup can help relieve cough.

Besides its great taste, chicken soup is often used as an expectorant for coughing.

Not that chicken soup has special qualities to make it such a great expectorant, but warm fluids are great when it comes to doing away with the cough.

To use this remedy, drink a medium-sized bowl of chicken soup daily until you see results.

4. Horehound

Another very good natural expectorant is horehound. Horehound provides relief from coughing and the irritation you have on your lungs and the throat.

The presence of the marrubin compound in horehound makes it possible to initiate the secretion of lighter and clearer mucus in the bronchial system. This way, you can breathe easily and also get rid on the mucus.

Due to the extremely bitter taste of horehound, it is taken as capsules or sweet lozenges. You can however mix it with natural sweeteners such as honey to solve the issue.

Use horehound with the following steps:

  • Take the recommended dosage of horehound as directed by the doctor.


SSKI is a potassium iodide mixture used for a range of medical conditions in the home. While its use was common in the old days, it is still a very effective medicine.

As an expectorant, SSKI is very effective and will clear up your breathing system and do away with the coughing in a few days.

To use SSKI

  • Mix a few drops of the solution in water or juice
  • Take the mixture daily before breakfast for a week

6. Honey

One of the most common types of natural expectorants is honey. Honey has many different uses which place it amongst the most useful natural products.

You can harness its delicious taste, antibacterial properties and soothing capabilities for various medical purposes at home.

Its expectorant qualities are some of the best too. Honey can be used in the following ways:

  • A teaspoon of honey mixed in warm water or herbal tea
  • Take the mixture daily for the best results
  • It can also be mixed with milk for some incredible results.

Honey can also be used as a chest compress. To do this:

  • Rub some honey on your chest then cover it with a cloth for an hour.
  • Wash it off afterwards. You can repeat the exercise daily until you see results.

7. Steam treatment

Steam soothes your throat and makes coughing less painful besides moisturizing the mucus making it less thick. It can be used in the following ways:

  • Simply cover yourself with a towel in a steam-filled environment to do away with the thick mucus.

8. Herbal tea

Most warm fluids are very helpful when it comes to doing away with the coughing and thick mucus in the breathing system.

Most types of herbal teas have expectorant qualities which will be instrumental in doing away with the coughing and the general symptoms of be disease.

For the best results:

  • Add a teaspoon of your favorite herbal tea to warm water.
  • Steep the mixture for about ten minutes before straining and taking it.

Instead of using sugar, herbal teas go well with honey which is an expectorant on its own. You will be okay soon enough with this mixture.

9. Cayenne pepper

While it may sound unconventional to have pepper as a remedy for a cough, it actually works.

The use of cayenne pepper and other such spices can help you do away with the coughing and ease the breathing.

You can add cayenne pepper to your food or to warm water for the desired results.

10. Garlic for cough

Garlic has many qualities as a medicinal plant. As time goes by, a lot of uses for this herb are being discovered.

Among its growing list of medicinal roles is its use as an expectorant. It is used to treat coughs and in clearing the respiratory system with ease.

You can use garlic in different ways including:

  • Eating it raw among many other ways. It is preferable to take it raw to have all its benefits.
  • Adding it to food.

11. Salt water gargle

Using salt water is a simple procedure which has the following stages:

  • In a glass of warm water, add a teaspoon of salt and stir until the salt is wholly dissolved.
  • Gargle the mixture for about 3 minutes about 3 times a day.

The salt provides an environment that is not conducive for the cough virus while the steam in the warm water helps in making the mucus in the breathing system lighter.

12. Onions

Unknown to many, onions have medicinal qualities which can be easily harnessed for some relief. The high amounts of quercetin and Sulphur in onions makes them a great expectorant.

These compounds combine to break down the mucus and ease the breathing.

  • You can directly eat onions or squeeze their juice and take it for the same benefits.

13. Apple cider vinegar

Owing to its antibacterial properties, apple cider vinegar will kill the bacteria causing the congestion of the chest to allow for easy breathing.

Here’s how to use apple cider vinegar as a cough expectorant to help relieve chest congestion.

  1. Mix apple cider vinegar with water in the ratio of 0.5:1
  2. Add a little honey to sweeten it.
  3. Sip this mixture in small amounts until the coughing stops or reduces.

14. Ginger

The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger give you relief from the mucosal inflammation brought about by the cough.

Besides that, ginger has a high amount of polyphenols which will restrict the production of mucus. This will decongest the chest and ease up on your breathing.

15. Turmeric

You will get relief from the irritation occasioned by coughing when you take turmeric. Turmeric has the active compound curcumin which is instrumental in breaking down the thick mucus that clogs the breathing system.

Turmeric is also a natural anti-inflammatory medicine which will soothe your throat when taken.

  • You can take turmeric by mixing it in warm water then adding honey to taste.

16. Lemon

The presence of citric acid in lemons makes it a great expectorant for your coughs.

For one, the citric acid will break down the thick mucus to make it easy to expel and breath easily. The high amount of vitamins in lemons helps in fighting the cough germs.

Unless you have an allergy to any these remedies, they will provide quick relief to coughing.


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