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Coughs are varied in types and causes. There are supplement options and lifestyle changes which can support the health of the respiratory tract to reduce symptoms of asthma, bronchitis and coughs resulting from seasonal colds and flu

What are the types and causes of coughs?

A cough that lasts for less than three weeks is known as an ‘acute cough’. Chronic coughs are typically described as ‘a persistent cough’ that lasts more than eight weeks. A persistent cough should be checked out by your GP as soon as possible. Seeing blood in the mucus coughed up of coughs with a ‘barking’ sound should definitely be checked out by a doctor immediately.

A cough is a reflex reaction that attempts to clear the particles and make breathing easier, usually as an attempt to expel mucus or foreign particles such as smoke or dust.

Allergies and inflammatory substances which may be causing a cough

If you continually come into contact with dust or smoke or you have known allergies such as animal dander please firstly try to avoid these substances. Smoking is a common cause of coughing, even from second-hand smoke. We also have an article on respiratory allergies.


A common cause of coughing in young children is asthma. Typically, asthmatic coughing involves wheezing, making it easy to identify. Asthma is typically treated with the provision of inhalers. In cases of severe asthma, please ensure you carry an inhaler to prevent attacks in emergencies.

Products to reduce airway inflammation include:

Please also see our article on respiratory allergies.

A wet cough, also known as a productive cough

This refers to any cough that produces mucus (phlegm). Wet coughs most often result from infections by microorganisms such as bacteria or viruses, like those that cause a cold or flu.


(Please see our separate article on bronchitis). Bronchitis is an infection of the main airways of the lungs, known as the bronchi, causing them to become inflamed. The main symptom is a cough, which may produce yellow-grey mucus (phlegm). Bronchitis may also cause a sore throat and wheezing. Acute bronchitis is a temporary inflammation of the airways that causes a cough and mucus. It lasts up to 3 weeks and is more common in winter with the onset of the common cold, sore throat or the flu. Chronic bronchitis is a daily productive cough that lasts for 3 months of the year and for at least 2 years in a row.

Cough linked to stomach acid ‘acid reflux: This occurs when reflux causes acid to move up the oesophagus, causing tiny droplets of stomach acid to land in the throat. The irritation causes inflammation to occur, leading to symptoms like coughing, hoarseness, throat clearing or the feeling that something is stuck in the throat[i].

COPD: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, often referred to as COPD, is an umbrella term for several progressive lung diseases. The most common are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Many people with COPD have both conditions.

Other conditions that may cause a cough: include damage to the vocal cords and postnasal drip or bacterial infections such as pneumonia and whooping cough. Postnasal drip is a very common occurrence, allergies or respiratory infections are one of the most common causes. Postnasal drip may also be caused by food allergies, such as allergies to milk proteins[ii]. Recommended testing: Food Sensitivity Test (Dietary Antigen Test), enquire today to find out more.

Some types of cardiovascular disease can cause fluid to build up in the lungs. This, in turn, may lead to persistent coughing and wheezing with white or pink, blood-tinged mucus (as mentioned previously, please see your doctor immediately if you see blood in the mucus).

Our top picks for cough

Bronchosan pine cough syrup (100ml): Made with extracts of freshly harvested pine shoots, contains soothing honey with a pleasant taste. Pine is an expectorant, meaning it helps to loosen up mucus in order to cough it up and get rid of it. It also has strong antimicrobial properties. In the 1940s, scientist Jacques Masquelier studied the vast health effects of pine after he learnt how indigenous peoples of North America had been using it to heal scurvy and wounds[iii].

Horseradish And Garlic Complex by Viridian: Garlic is traditionally used in Western herbal medicine to relieve symptoms of mild upper respiratory tract infections[iv]. Horseradish is traditionally used to relieve nasal congestion[v], and vitamin C to support immune system health.

Elderberry Throat Spray 50ml/ Elderberry Extract (Organic) with Vitamin C (100ml): Delicious fresh Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) Throat Spray with Manuka Honey and Marshmallow, suitable for the whole family. Elderberry extracts have been shown to help reduce the severity and length of influenza[vi].

Immune Complex (30 caps)/ Beta Glucan by Viridian (30 caps): Beta glucans are biologically active natural molecules and are steadily gaining attention as an immunostimulant, therefore they are known for their powerful ability to boost the immune system[vii].

Lungwort Complex Tincture 50ml: Relieves respiratory ailments such as bronchitis and asthma, whilst having antimicrobial effects for chest infections[viii].

Eucalyptus - Organic (10ml): Eucalyptus products have been seen to be more effective than placebo in terms of improvement or resolution of coughs [ix].

Please see our article on immunity here.

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Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.