For centuries, natural ingredients have been used to relieve everyday ailments. In fact, nearly half of all human pharmaceuticals currently in use were originally derived from natural sources 1 .

The best treatment for a cough will depend on its underlying cause 2 . A cough is a reflex action to clear airways of mucus and/or irritants such as dust or smoke. Coughs that do not produce any phlegm are described as dry and tickly where coughs described as wet or chesty have excessive mucus production 3 .
Here are some of the more common natural ingredients used as cough remedies:


Honey has been used for generations to relieve a sore throat and is a common natural remedy used to relieve cough2,4,5,6. The World Health Organisation advises that honey may alleviate a cough in children 7 . Honey acts as a demulcent, creating a protective coating that relieves local irritation allowing the mucosa (throat lining) to recover, while protecting it against irritants 8,9 . Some home remedies include mixing up to 2 teaspoons of honey with herbal tea or warm water and lemon5. Honey containing cough mixtures are not recommended for use in children under 1 years of age 9.

Marshmallow root

Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) is a herb native to Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa10. It is a highly mucilaginous substance (thick, gel like or gluey) that coats the throat to relieve local irritation and inflammation associated with a dry cough2,10-12. It helps shield the cough receptors reducing the urge to cough11,12. It is for this reason that it is a useful ingredient for relieving symptoms of coughs and colds10,12. Lozenges containing marshmallow root extract help dry coughs and an irritated throat10.


Much of this plant can be used for medicinal purposes such as the flowers, leaves or the oil 13. Thyme essential oil acts as a natural expectorant which means that it help thin mucus making it easier to cough11. In the past it has been used for wet or chesty conditions such as bronchitis or catarrh (inflammation) of the upper respiratory tract11,13.


People have been using ginger in cooking and medicine since ancient times14. It is a popular home remedy for nausea, stomach pain, and other health issues including easing a dry2,14. Ginger is thought to have anti-inflammatory effects on the airways, which could reduce coughing however more research is required2. It can be brewed into a soothing tea by using 20–40 grams of fresh ginger slices in a cup of hot water. Honey or lemon juice can also be used to improve the taste and further soothe a cough2.


Peppermint is another natural ingredient that can help ease cough symptoms. The menthol in peppermint helps soothe a sore throat15 and act as a natural decongestant5 by helping to break down mucus and clear the sinuses15. Peppermint can be taken as a tea or by inhaling peppermint vapours in a steam bath or over a basin5.
Most coughs clear up within three weeks and do not require any treatment3. Remember that if you are taking medicines on a regular basis, including medicines bought over the counter and complementary or traditional medicines, they may interact with natural products and may cause undesirable interactions9. Speak to you doctor or pharmacist if you have a persistent cough or if you are concerned about the cause of your cough.

Bronchostop® Cough range relieves any cough1-3*.

  • The Syrup and Pastilles contain Marshmallow root dry extract and Thyme herb extract that help relieve any cough whether its dry, tickly, wet, chesty and has mucus or phlegm16,17
  • While the Children’s Cough Syrup contains Marshmallow root extract and Honey9

To learn more about Bronchostop’s cough range visit

* Cough associated with colds

DISCLAIMER: This editorial has been commissioned and brought to you by iNova Pharmaceuticals. Content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional

Scheduling Status: S0 Proprietary name (and dosage form): Pholtex Bronchostop® Cough Syrup. Composition: Each 5 ml syrup contains: 39 mg Thyme herb extract and 277 mg Marshmallow root dry extract. Pharmacological Classification: Complementary Medicine: Discipline Specific Traditional Claims D33.6 Western Herbal Medicine. Scheduling Status: S0 Proprietary name (and dosage form): Pholtex Bronchostop® Cough Pastilles. Composition: Each pastille contains: 51.1 mg Thyme herb extract and 4.5 mg Marshmallow root dry extract. Pharmacological Classification: Complementary Medicine: Discipline Specific Traditional Claims D33.6 Western Herbal Medicine. Proprietary name (and dosage form): Pholtex Bronchostop® Children’s Cough Syrup. Composition: Each 5 ml syrup contains: 48 mg Marshmallow root dry extract and 250 mg Honey. These unregistered medicines have not been evaluated by the SAHPRA for their quality, safety or intended use. For more information, speak to your healthcare professional. Further information is available on request from iNova Pharmaceuticals. Name and business address of applicant: iNova Pharmaceuticals (Pty) Limited. Co. Reg. No. 1952/001640/07, 15e Riley Road, Bedfordview. Tel. No. 011 087 0000. IN3906/20.


1.Scientific American. Mother Nature’s Medicine Cabinet (2001) at (website accessed on 23 July 2020)

2.Medical News Today. What can I do to make my cough go away? (2020) at (website accessed on 22 July 2020)

3.NHS Inform. Cough (2020) at (website accessed on 23 July 2020)

4.Daily Sabah. Oldest cure that never spoils (2019) at (website accessed on 22 July 2020)

5. Healthline. The Best Natural Cough Remedies (2016) at (website accessed on 22 July 2020)

6. Mayo Clinic. Honey – An effective cough remedy? (2018) at (website accessed on 27 July 2020)

7. World Health Organization. Cough and cold remedies for the treatment of acute respiratory infections in young children. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2001. Accessed 24 June 2020.

8. Goldman RD. Honey for treatment of cough in children. Canadian Family Physician 2014;60:1107-1110

9. Pholtex Bronchostop® Children’s Cough Instructions for use, February 2019

10. Healthline. What is marshmallow root? (2018a) at (website accessed on 22 July 2020)

11. Capasso, F. Plants and the respiratory system. Phytotherapy pp 193-216 2003

12. Al-Snafi, E. The Pharmaceutical Importance of Althaea officinalis and Althaea rosea: A Review. International Journal of PharmTech Research.
Vol.5, No.3, pp 1378-1385, July-Sept 2013

13. WebMD. Thyme (2018) at (website accessed on 22 July 2020)

14. Medical News Today. Why is Ginger Good for You? (2020) at (website accessed on 23 July 2020)

15. Country Life. 5 natural ways to get rid of a dry or chesty cough (2018) at (website accessed on 23 July 2020)

16. Pholtex Bronchostop® Cough Syrup professional information, September 2019.

17. Pholtex Bronchostop® Cough Pastilles professional information, September 2019.