Sunday, December 16, 2012

Radically Natural Remedies for Coughs and Sore Throats

Cold and flu season is upon us once again.  It's amazing how quickly a year passes!  My kiddos had their first respiratory complaints of the season at Thanksgiving, so I thought it would be timely to share some Real Medicine approaches for coughs and sore throats.  

Coughs and sore throats tend to accompany colds and flus; they also develop as standalone illnesses.  Thankfully, the complex constituents of botanical medicines make each plant well suited as a remedy for multiple maladies.  Dealing with any cold or flu requires a similar botanical approach.  We desire to support the immune system and use herbs that have natural broad-spectrum antibiotic properties, to either ward off or shorten the duration of the virus.

Feeding your immune system regularly in sickness season will help reduce your illnesses.  Of course, eating Real Food every day, throughout the year, develops a healthy body that can better fight whatever viruses you may encounter.  A fantastic sickness-season, body-building superfood is homemade broth, rich in gelatin and minerals.  Soup really can heal what ails you!

Red clover
Whether viral or bacterial, ailments of the respiratory system (encompassing the area from nose to lungs) respond well to botanical treatment, especially when treatment begins in the early stages of illness.  Colds and flus are often accompanied by various ear, nose, throat, bronchial and lung complaints.  Upper respiratory infections are those affecting the sinuses and throat, while lower respiratory infections affect the trachea, bronchial passageways and lungs.  Coughs and sore throats, the hallmark of respiratory infections, are soothed and healed using numerous demulcent, expectorant, antispasmodic and sedative herbs.

There are times that suppressing a cough may be beneficial, such as during a croup spasmodic episode, or when suffering a dry cough caused by throat irritation.  But in general, we do not want to suppress the cough and interfere with its work.  As irritating as the cough may be (or sound), it is doing the job of clearing the lungs and airways of foreign the case of a viral or bacterial infection, the cough is helping to expel invaders being fought by your immune system.  Expectorating mucus is the main function of a wet cough during a respiratory infection.

One of the hallmarks of a cold or flu is excessive mucus production.  As icky as it can make us feel, mucus serves a valuable purpose.  When we have a viral infection, mucus production is the normal effect of a functioning immune system.  The cell linings of our mucus membranes (respiratory tract, GI tract, reproductive tract) create mucus for various reasons:

  • to keep tissues from drying out 
  • to provide antibodies and enzymes to fight pathogens (increased mucus production during cold/flu virus)
  • to trap foreign particles in lungs
As infectious agents are encountered, they are wrapped in mucus and phlegm (mucus of the respiratory tract) to be sent packing out of your body through your nose and mouth.  

In the following section I will list my preferred herbal medicines for the ailments discussed.  I buy from and recommend Mountain Rose Herbs for herb purchases.  Remember, herbs all have multiple medicinal constituents and actions and are useful in healing various systems and organs in the body.  I am going to list only the herbal actions and bodily systems most pertinent to our topic illnesses.

My favorite virus busting/immune boosting herbs, foods and nutrients:
A note on fevers

For a childhood flu or illness accompanied by fever, an herbal preparation of elder flowers, yarrow and peppermint is especially helpful.  Our desire is not to suppress the fever, but to support it and help it to work effectively.  Fever is part of the body's defense in fighting pathogens.  Allowing a reasonable fever to burn (for me, this is a fever up to 104º for children, 101º for babies) will decrease illness is a healing mechanism.  The herbal fever combination will help your child to be more comfortable, will increase the immune system's viral- and bacterial-fighting powers, and will help the fever burn more efficiently.  An excellent homeopathic fever treatment is belladonna.  Again, this is used for beneficial fever regulation, not elimination.

Herbs for coughs/sore throats

Slippery elm lozenges
Different types of coughs require different treatments.  Sore throats often accompany coughs or are caused by them.  Expectorant herbs help to loosen and break up offending substances, particularly mucus, so they may be expelled.  Demulcent herbs soothe irritated mucus membranes.  Sedative/nervine  and anti-inflammatory herbs help to reduce pain and irritation.  Antispasmodic herbs treat spasmodic coughs.  I recently did a writeup on specific remedies for croup, which is a spasmodic, dry cough resulting from infection of the larynx.  Other cough-based respiratory ailments:

  • Whooping cough = a childhood disease with two stages.  First stage includes cold with runny nose, sneezing, fever; patient may have painful cough and difficulty breathing.  Second stage comes when fever subsides and cough increases; cough is spasmodic/convulsive with whooping sound; coughing fits bring up mucus and increase breathing difficulties.
  • Bronchitis = inflammation of bronchial tube membranes.  Symptoms are hoarseness, tickling in windpipe, difficulty breathing, frequent cough, scanty building to copious mucus, tightness in chest, wheezing.
  • Pneumonia = inflammation of lungs, usually beginning with chills followed by high fever.  Patient's pulse is quick and full, patient has trouble breathing, has sticking pain in chest; cough quite painful, begins dry and later becomes loose with expectoration of much mucus (may be blood-streaked).  Other symptoms include rapid, shallow breathing, headache, thirst.  Signs of recovery are first indicated by skin resuming natural moisture and temperature.  Danger is usually passed when patient is coughing up large amounts of mucus.
Herbal expectorants AND demulcents
  • chickweed (moistens phlegm and aids expectoration)
  • mullein (also anti-tussive, antispasmodic) = excellent treatment for respiratory ailments and swollen membrane conditions; clears lungs, relieves spasms, soothes inflammation, relieves pain, calms nerves; moves out excess mucus, demulcent (and bacteriostatic) properties used historically to treat tuberculosis.
  • licorice (also anti-inflammatory) = soothes lungs and helps expectorate phlegm, heals inflamed mucus membranes of respiratory tract.
  • slippery elm (also mucilant, nutritive) = soothing to irritated mucus membranes, encourages removal of phlegm from respiratory tract; lozenges especially helpful for soothing coughs/sore throats (see link for more info and recipe).
Herbal expectorants
  • angelica = particularly suited to bronchial problems.
  • red clover (also antibiotic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, sedative, blood cleanser) = one of the most potent botanical medicines we have; excellent mucus clearer; historically used as sedative for whooping cough; its antibiotic properties useful against multiple bacteria, including tubercular bacilli; moves toxins out of blood; nerve tonic well suited to spasmodic afflictions...warm infusions particularly soothing to bronchial nerves; drink as much red clover tea as desired during illness.
  • wild cherry = calms respiratory nerves, soothes coughs and asthma, loosens and expectorates phlegm/mucus in throat and chest; especially suited to bronchial disorders caused by accumulated mucus.
  • elecampane (also antibacterial) = treatment for bronchial coughs and chest congestion with much mucus.
  • horehound (also anti-inflammatory, anti-tussive) = well-known throat and lung remedy; treats coughs and croup, expels phlegm from respiratory bronchial system, soothes larynx.
  • fennel (also anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic, high in vitamin A)
  • thyme (also antispasmodic, antiseptic, sedative) = historically shown to be beneficial for whooping cough; removes mucus from lungs and respiratory passages.
  • mustard = particularly good used as chest compresses (called mustard plaster); clears lungs, eases breathing; dispels phlegm, alleviates pain; to make mustard plaster: take portion of mustard seed powder (determined by size of area to be treated) and mix with warm water to form thick paste, wrap in clean thin cloth, place plaster on another cloth already placed on skin, remove plaster as soon as heat becomes uncomfortable (like garlic, mustard poultices are potent and can burn skin...for children, remove after 5 minutes, reapply as needed).
Herbal demulcents
  • burdock root (also excellent blood purifier and bacteriocide)
  • marshmallow (also mucilant, tonic, nutritive) = calcium-rich mucilaginous herb used historically to soothe and heal mucus membranes, including lungs, digestive tract and bowel.  Soothes irritation/inflammation in respiratory organs.

Herbal nervines/antispasmodics
  • lobelia (also analgesic, antispasmodic, decongestant, expectorant) = considered by many herbalists as most important of herbs; treats asthma, bronchitis: relaxes bronchial muscles, dilates bronchioles; removes congestion in body; powerful relaxant of nervous system; soothes inflammation; expands contracted parts of respiratory system; large amounts can cause vomiting (relaxes stomach sphincters), which can be cathartic and useful for expunging toxins.
  • oatstraw (also antispasmodic, nutritive)
  • ginger (also analgesic, anti-inflammatory) = blood vascular stimulant, body cleansing herb used in lung/chest clearing combos and sore throat syrups.

Homeopathy for Coughs/Sore Throats

I always use homeopathic remedies in concert with herbal medicines when treating any illness.  I find that coughs and flus respond quite well to homeopathy.  Choose the homeopathic that most closely fits the general symptom picture being exhibited.  The proper dosing in homeopathy is not in the number of pellets taken, but in the frequency of the dose given.  Even the slightest improvement in symptoms indicates that you have chosen a correct remedy.  Often, more than one remedy will work.  A general 30C or 30X potency, given 3 pellets per dose, is a good place to start with homeopathic remedies.  During severe acute illness, high burning fevers, or spasmodic coughing episodes, give a dose every 15 minutes.  For less emergent illness or suffering, administer the remedy every hour to three hours.  If you see no improvement in a couple days, switch to another remedy that matches the symptomatology.  Avoid food or drink (except water) 15 minutes before and after administering homeopathic remedies.

Homeopathic general cough remedies
  • Aconitum = dry, hoarse, croupy cough; tends to be worse at night (especially after midnight); dry mouth, shortness of breath, often accompanied by thirst; patient restless, anxious; cough worse from cold drinks.  This remedy is given for the initial stages of croup, bronchitis, pneumonia.
  • Antimonium tart = deep cough turning toward bronchitis; loud rattling cough with difficulty expectorating mucus; difficulty in breathing makes patient sit up; patient anxious, irritable; feels chilly but dislikes stuffiness.  This remedy is rarely given at beginning of illness.
  • Bryonia = common cold starts with nasal discharge, then moves into chest; cough dry, made worse by motion or inhaling; patient holds chest while breathing; cough aggravated by warm rooms; may be tickling in larynx; sometimes vomiting or headache accompanies cough.
  • Drosera = bouts of dry, barking cough, spasmodic, tickling cough, ringing sound; larynx inflamed, aggravated by lying down, worse after midnight; pain in chest, hoarse voice; cough irritated by talking, eating, drinking cold fluids; patient may perspire; coughing spasms may cause vomiting, patient may hold chest.
  • Ferrum phos = symptoms not intense or sudden; cough becomes worse from cold air, in early morning, after eating; dry hacking cough, expectoration may include blood; stitching pain on inhalation and during cough; patient has poor appetite, hoarseness.
  • Hepar sulphur = barking, croupy cough, worsened by exposure to cold; cough exacerbated by dryness in larynx, cold food/drinks, deep breathing; much mucus/rattling in chest, patient may not be able to expectorate mucus; patient sweats during coughing episodes, irritable.
  • Ipecac = hacking cough with tendency to retch/nausea; constriction of chest, tickling in throat, excess saliva; cough damp and deep; rattling mucus in chest; cough worse in hot, humid weather; accompanied by sneezing, hoarseness.  This remedy common for infants with cough accompanied by vomiting.
  • Kali bic = cough expectorates stringy, yellow mucus; worse after eating, drinking, around 3 a.m.; relief from expectorating mucus, warmth; sensation of hair in back of throat, perhaps hoarse voice; sometimes pain in mid-sternum extending to back.  This remedy is not useful at beginning stages of cough.
  • Phosphorus = dry hard cough, sometimes with persistent tickle behind sternum; aggravated by lying down, awakes at night to sit up and cough; tightness and pain in chest, relieved by warmth; patient may crave cold drinks; patient exhausted; nasal discharge may be blood-tinged.  This remedy common for serious respiratory conditions like pneumonia.
  • Pulsatilla = cough aggravated in warm room, lying down, nighttime; cool air provides some relief; patient sits up in bed to breathe better; dry cough during day, mucusy at night; patient weepy, clingy, moody, craving sympathy/affection.
  • Rumex = dry, shallow coughs very sensitive to cold air, patient may wrap head in blanket to avoid breathing it; tickling in throats, irritations below larynx; aggravated by touching base of throat; patient usually hoarse, desires warmth; symptoms aggravated during night, worsened by movement.
  • Spongia = primary medicine for dry, barking, raspy, croupy cough; sound distinct like sawing wood or barking dog; jarring, surprise quality to cough; air passages dry, sputum absent, patient hoarse; cough worsened by cold air, warm rooms, talking, cold fluids; cough worse in early part of night; warm food/drink provide some relief; patient sits up/leans forward.  This remedy is considered second-stage croup remedy, after Aconitum and before Hepar and Kali.
Homeopathics for whooping cough
Because first stage whooping cough is difficult to distinguish from a cold, the remedies listed here are specific to the second stage of the illness.  For first stage, choose from general cough remedies above.
  • Aconite = dry cough with whistling sound; skin hot, dry; burning sensation in windpipe; pain in throat during cough.  This remedy brings relief, but rarely clears symptoms of whooping cough...follow-up remedy will be needed for total clearing.
  • Antimonium Tart = patient seems to be drowning in mucus; rattling in lungs, deep breaths cause coughing spasms; patient sleepy, thirsty, exhausted, may vomit.
  • Arnica = specifically indicated if patient begins to cry after coughing or cough after crying; feels bruised all over, head hot, body cold; left cheek red.
  • Arsenicum = suffocating fits of dry coughing; scant urination, pale complexion/cool skin; patient chilly, seeks warmth.
  • Belladonna = patient cannot bear light, noise, motion; throbbing headache accompanies cough, perhaps nosebleed; burning fever; patient thirsty, exhausted, but thrashing.  Bryonia often follows Belladonna in whooping cough.
  • Bryonia = similar picture to Belladonna, but fever stage passed; patient worsened by motion, even motion of coughing; suffocating coughing fits, more in evening; may expectorate brownish mucus.
  • Carbo veg = major remedy for whooping cough; works best if given just as cough takes on whooping sound; terrible sore throat on swallowing; patient worse in evening, in cold/damp weather.
  • Drosera = good general remedy for whooping cough; actual whoop sound to cough; violent fits of coughing, wrack body; may be accompanied by fever, hot perspiration at night; patient better for motion, thirsty, may vomit.
  • Dulcamara - loose, moist cough; thin, clear mucus; good for cough brought on after exposure to cold/damp.
  • Ipecac = patient becomes stiff during coughing fits, becomes blue in face; chest sounds full of mucus, yet none expectorated; coughs bring on gagging.
  • Mercurius = first remedy to consider if patient coughs up blood, may bleed from nose during coughing fit; patient worse at night; may cough all night and not during day, or cough all day and not at night; night sweats; two bouts of coughing and period of calm before two more bouts of coughing.
  • Phosphorus = excellent for whooping cough, especially if first stage appears to be simple cold that moves quickly to throat and chest, bypassing nose; burning pains in throat/chest; patient may hold painful throat during coughs; thirsty for cold drinks, may vomit.
  • Pulsatilla = great deal of mucus being coughed up; patient may vomit, have diarrhea at night; feels chilly, even in warm rooms, but eels he cannot breathe in warm room.
  • Veratrum album = for patient greatly weakened by illness; pulse quick and weak, constant low fever, cold sweat; patient does not want to move or speak, may have red rash.  This remedy follows Drosera well in whooping cough.
Homeopathics for bronchitis
  • Aconite = acute attacks; chill with fever, dry, hot skin, restless; short, dry cough, constant irritation in larynx; fear/anxiety.
  • Antimonium Tart = large mass of mucus in bronchia; difficulty breathing, feeling as if drowning in mucus, but cannot easily expectorate mucus; may vomit mucus; chest heavy, patient exhausted.
  • Apis = chest sore feels stung/bruised; clear, stringy phlegm in throat.
  • Arsenicum = dry, hacking cough; chest sore; patient sits up to breathe; thirsty but drinks scant amount.
  • Belladonna = face flushed, eyes red; pressure in head, throbbing headache, hot skin, spasmodic cough that cuts off breathing.
  • Bryonia = breathing difficult, shallow; patients must sit up to breathe but doesn't want to move; chest tight; dry cough with pains in chest; violent cough in morning with mucus expectoration.
  • Carbo Veg = obstinate hoarseness, severe burning in chest; violent cough, discharge of yellow phlegm; difficulty breathing.
  • Causticum = throat rough/hoarse, especially in morning; short, hacking cough with involuntary urination.
  • Chamomilla = hoarseness and cough with rattling mucus in trachea; tickling in larynx, worse at night; one cheek red, one pale; patient irritable.
  • Hepar Sulph = dry cough with rough throat; rattling, choking cough worse after midnight; wheeze during breathing, throat feels like stick is caught in it.
  • Ipecac = rattling mucus in bronchial tubes; bouts of suffocating cough; difficulty breathing; chest full of phlegm, but trouble expectorating mucus; may vomit mucus.
  • Kali Bic = burning pains in trachea and bronchia; cough may expectorate green mass of stringy, ropey mucus (keynote of the remedy is stringy mucus).
  • Lachesis = voice feeble, hoarse; constriction of throat, short, hacking cough; tingling in throat; difficult expectoration of yellow mucus; throat painful when touched, pressure on throat brings on coughing fit.
  • Mercurius = sore throat with violent cough, especially at night; patient feels head and chest will burst; feels hot, then cold, then hot; swollen glands, sweat.
  • Nux Vomica = larynx feels rough, scraped, causes coughing from attempt to clear throat; dry cough all night; headache; stuffy nose; fever with chilly feeling; may be accompanied by constipation.
  • Phosphorus = total loss of voice; larynx exceedingly painful; chest tight; cough expectorates reddish mucus, cough severe and exhausting; patient dreads cough, tries to stop it, may hold throat.
  • Pulsatilla = dryness in throat; dry cough at night worse when sitting up in bed; loose cough, expectorates yellow mucus; patient chilly, with hot, dry skin, no thirst; patient prone to tears.
  • Rhus Tox = cough brought on by sensation of tickling under breast bone; cough worse from laughing/talking; accompanied by rheumatic pains in bones, better from gentle motion; worse at night.
  • Spongia = dry larynx, hoarse, hollow, wheezing cough; worse at night; sounds like sawing wood.
  • Sulphur = hoarseness and loss of voice; sensation of something crawling inside throat; loose cough, expectorates thick mucus; sore chest, pain in left side.  Single best remedy for chronic cases of bronchitis.
  • Veratrum album = dry, hollow cough, as if from abdomen; rattling mucus in chest cannot be coughed up; cough may be accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, exhaustion; face covered in cold sweat.
Homeopathics for sore throat
  • Aconite = comes on quickly, especially after exposure to cold and wind; throat red/swollen, patient feels chilled, even with fever; face may be red.
  • Apis = throat red/swollen, feels stung/burning; worsened by warm drinks, better for cold drinks; throat dry, patient thirsty; throat may look shiny; pain with and without swallowing.
  • Arsenicum = usually begins on right side and moves left, or more painful on right side; better by warm drinks; patient chilly, restless.
  • Belladonna = indicated for tonsillitis, and other sore throats; pain comes on quickly; tonsils/throat bright red; pain burns, patient swallows constantly, painfully; look for accompanying fever.
  • Carbo Veg = long-lasting hoarseness worse morning and evening.
  • Causticum = hoarse, rough throat with hoarse voice; worse in morning; pain in chest.
  • Chamomilla = comes on in cold air; stinging/burning pains in throat; sensation of wanting to cough something out of throat; good remedy for children, especially if patient is cross.
  • Ferrum Phos = common remedy for tonsillitis; pain not as quick or severe as with Belladonna; fever, hoarseness common; good remedy for loss of voice from overuse.
  • Gelsemium = voice very weak; loss of voice due to nervousness; raspy pain in throat, difficulty swallowing, throat feels burnt.
  • Hepar Sulph = sensation of stick caught in throat; ache into ears, especially on swallowing; better for hot drinks.
  • Ignatia = better for swallowing solid food, worse for liquids; sensation of lump in throat; emotional cause of lost voice indicated this remedy.
  • Lachesis = pain usually on left side, or begins left and moves right; left side more swollen and red/purple in color; pain worse for swallowing liquids (particularly warm), better for food; throat very sensitive to touch, nothing can cover it.
  • Lycopodium = pain begins right and moves left, more painful on right; better for warm drinks, worse for cold; sensation of plug in throat; pain worse in late afternoon.
  • Mercurius = infection present; often situation where cold has settled into throat; this remedy not for new throat condition, but when throat is sore for period of time; swollen glands under jaw; swollen tongue, copious saliva; pain raw, throat constricted, tonsils swollen.
  • Nux Vomica = scraping pains in throat; hoarseness/loss of voice; patient chilly, has postnasal drip, stuffy nose; sore throat slow coming on, slow to build, slow to leave.
  • Phosphorus = great remedy for losing voice from overuse; exhausted (as if nothing left to say); cold drinks, ice helps; tightness in chest.
  • Rhus Tox = lost voice from overuse; pain worse on initial swallowing, better for continued swallowing; worse for cold, better for warm drinks; patient feels better from damp warmth of hot shower.
  • Sulphur = general tonic for throat; pain better from cold drinks, worse from warm in any form; patient feels hot, sweaty; pain in throat is burning.

Essential Oils for respiratory ailments

Essential oils are distilled, concentrated preparations of plants.  I like to think of EOs as the "blood" of the plant.  EOs are very potent and therapeutic in small doses.  Only high quality, pure EOs should be used; these are hard to find in stores.  I will list my preferred sources at the end.  Pure, therapuetic grade EOs can be ingested (a few drops in a glass of water), diffused in the air, added to steam preparations, added to spray bottles, and applied topically (dilute with carrier oil to avoid burning skin with strong oils).

EOs for coughs
These will also help to clear sinuses.
  • rosemary (great for steam inhalations in combination with eucalyptus: boil water, pour into bowl, add 2-3 drops EO, tent towel over head while leaning over bowl, breathe deeply through nose and mouth)
  • eucalyptus
  • pine
  • tea tree
  • frankincense
  • fir
  • thyme
  • ginger
EOs for sore throat
  • peppermint (drink a few drops in water, gargle with it, apply directly to inner back of throat, especially for strep...use 1-2 drops initially, peppermint can burn)
  • oregano
  • cypress
  • lemon
  • tea tree
  • ginger
  • myrrh
  • geranium
  • lavender

Herbal preparations

I am not going to provide an herb making tutorial in this post, but will give you a general overview of options for herbal preparations and remedies that are beneficial for coughs, colds, flus and sore throats.

Glycerites are herbal tinctures particularly suited to children because of their unoffensive flavor and lack of alcohol.  Unlike an alcohol tincture, though, glycerites are not as potent.  You can give alcohol tinctures to children; generally the dosage is lower than with glycerine-based tinctures.

Tincture dosage is generally 30 drops every three hours, though this varies depending on acuteness of illness and the herb involved.  For most herbs, a more frequent dose of 20 drops per hour can be used for severe cases of flu, strep throat, coughs, etc.  (Lobelia, for example, is a very potent cathartic relaxant that can cause vomiting.  This can be beneficial when the body is overrun with mucus.  But if you do not want to vomit, do not take high doses of lobelia.  Usually 30 drops in water every three hours is a reasonable dose.  Stronger or more frequent doses could cause vomiting.)

Acetums (vinegar extracts) are particularly good herbal preparations for the respiratory tract.  Because of its nutritive/healing properties, I make all my vinegar extracts with apple cider vinegar.  ACV helps to dissolve phlegm.  Acetums combine well with honey to soothe coughs and sore throats.  An acetum is an easy way to get herbs into your diet, by using the herb-infused vinegar in salad dressings and other places you would normally use ACV.

Infusions and decoctions (strong teas) are easy to make, but require that you have herb matter.  They also do not last long, but are meant to be consumed within a day of being made.  You can store herbal teas in the refrigerator to be drunk in a day or two.  Teas are not as strong, but can be drunk throughout the day and night.

Recipes and Remedies

An excellent general cough/sore throat remedy (especially dry cough):  1 Tb. hot honey in glass of hot water with lemon. 

Coughs respond very well to onion/garlic/honey syrup.

Whooping cough (pertussis), a bacterial infection that causes violent coughing and restricted breathing (sometimes accompanied by vomiting), responds well to vitamin c, thyme, marshmallow, and red clover.

Strep throat remedies

  • osha root herb (antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, expectorant, decongestant) = well-suited for respiratory ailments, viral infections of throat and sinuses; often combined with echinacea and goldenseal for use against viral infections; large amounts can be stimulating.
  • usnea herb (antibacterial, antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral, parasitic, tuberculostatic) = a beneficial lichen, usnea is one of the strongest botanical antibiotics we have; effective against strep, staph, trichomonas, tuberculosis and infected wounds. 
  • charcoal sludge: Mix 1 Tb. activated charcoal powder with a small amount of water (4 to 6 oz.).  Stir and sip slowly, even gargle and then sip.  Also coat a wet Qtip with charcoal and swab affected areas in the back of the throat.  The charcoal coats the throat and significantly reduces pain.
A wonderful remedy for sore throats of any variety is gargling with 3% food-grade hydrogen peroxide.  Dilute a small amount of H2O2 in warm water and gargle, repeat as often as needed.  The burning, stinging, fizzing sensation means that the H2O2 is destroying pathogens.  Do the gargle the moment you feel a sore throat coming on and continue throughout the day.  

Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar has some wonderful respiratory remedies suitable for both adults and children.  Here are two of my favorites.

"Cough be gone" remedy:

4 parts fennel seed
2 parts licorice root
2 parts slippery elm bark
2 parts valerian
2 parts wild cherry bark
1 part cinnamon bark
1/2 part ginger root
1/8 part orange peel

Make very concentrated tea with 2 oz. herb mix to 1 qt. water.  Simmer over low heat, reduce liquid to 1 pint.  Strain herbs and pour liquid back into pot.  Add 1 cup honey (or liquid glycerine).  Gently warm honey and liquid together to mix.  Remove from heat, bottle and keep refrigerated.  Take 1 to 2 tsp. hourly (half for small children).

Children's formula for lung congestion:

2 parts licorice root
1 part cinnamon
1 part echinacea
1 part elecampane
1/4 part ginger

Make as tea, tincture or syrup.

For more information

Vitamin C treatment of whooping cough
How to make herbal preparations
How to make herbal tinctures
More tincture making info
Herb Glossary: Definitions of herbal actions
A-Z Herbal remedy chart
Homeopathy for coughs
Heritage Essential Oils