Basic Homeopathic Therapeutics – Coughs


from ‘Basic Homeopathic Therapeutics’ by Karen Johnson

Care should be taken when prescribing for coughs. A seemingly simple cough may actually be a sign of asthma, a much more serious infection or inflammation and consultation with a practitioner is especially advised if symptoms do not improve quickly. See also the section on whooping cough.

Coughs that come on suddenly after a fright or exposure to cold dry winds. The symptoms are constant short dry cough, barking or whistling cough The patient feels as if they are suffocating, this increases with every breath. Cough can be dry, loud, croupy. It is better lying on the back. The cough is worse at night and drinking which makes the patient grasp his throat. Anxiety, fear, restlessness and usual Aconite fever symptoms with cough.

A good cough remedy especially in babies and old people. The symptoms of Ant. Tart. can occur after anger. This picture comes on slowly, so the remedy is generally given in the later stages of coughs. There is a rattling cough, and the chest is full of catarrh. The patient is not strong enough to raise the catarrh. Suffocative shortness of breath, rattling breathing. Coughing can be followed by vomiting or sleep. The cough is better lying on the right side and for eructation’s (burping). Patient is exhausted, pale and bluish (due to poor oxygenation) and not thirsty. Patient has to sit up to breathe or cough.

Hoarseness and tickling cough from overheating. Rawness of air passages. Cough may be caused by breathing in smoke or dust. Inflammation and constriction of larynx. Often accompanied by laryngitis. Suffocative fits of coughing with croupy or wheezy cough. Taking a deep breath causes coughing. Cough is also worse swallowing and exertion. Patient is worse for warm rooms, heat, and draughts, breathing in and swallowing. Patient may feel better for motion.

The symptoms of coughs requiring Bryonia are hard dry spasmodic coughs that are very painful. The pain is worse any movement i.e., coughing, breathing in or out. The cough shakes the patient’s whole body. Has to hold the chest or head when coughing (Phos.). Pain can be sharp and stitching and can be in the region of the right scapula. The cough is worse at night, after eating and drinking, after going into warm rooms. The patient is a dusky dark colour, is irritable, thirsty and wants to be left in peace.

This can be a very useful cough remedy when there is continuous rattling of mucous in the chest. There is constriction of the chest as if bands were around it. The cough is much worse on ascending e.g. going upstairs. Periodic suffocation with feelings of faintness and sweat on face. Haemoptysis with convulsive cough. Cactus is well worth considering for coughs in patients with heart complaints.

A keynote is that the patient will barely cough during the day. The cough is a tickly irritating cough with very little expectoration. It is worse if the patient talks, lies down or bends the head forward and is better if they take cold drinks. Can be incontinent with the cough.

Hard hacking and paroxysmal cough early in the morning or late at night. It is worse if patient gets hot, e.g., in warm rooms and is generally better for open or cold air, cold drinks.

This is an excellent whooping cough remedy but also to be considered in any cough when a crawling or tickling in the larynx provokes coughing. Spasmodic cough carrying on until patient retches and vomits. The impulses to cough follow so quickly that the patient can hardly catch their breath before the next coughing fit. The cough is worse at night, as soon as they lie down, eating and especially drinking.

For coughs and colds arising from getting chilled when hot, getting cold and wet, and sudden temperature changes. The symptoms are cough caused by tickling in the back of the throat or exertion. Prolonged fits of coughing. Lots of loose easy expectoration. Winter coughs especially with neck pain and stiffness from the cold damp. Tonsillitis from every change to cold weather.

This remedy is rarely given at the start of a cough. The symptoms are weakness and much rattling in the chest. Loose thick yellow expectoration but patient cannot bring it up. Chest tightens up in cold air. There is whistling and choking breathing, the patient puts head back. The patient is worse for cold drinks and in the evening until midnight. Cough is choking, barking or suffocating. They are extremely irritable. They are very sensitive especially to the slightest draught, uncovering, cold dry weather which all worsen the cough but feels better in warm damp weather. Croup from exposure to cold air.

The famous sequence of remedies for croup is:
Acon-Hepar-Spongia- Hepar- Spongia, each remedy given at 2 to 4hr intervals.

This remedy picture comes on more quickly. Ipecac is a wonderful remedy for spasmodic or asthmatic coughs with the symptoms, wheezing, rattling respiration, paroxysms of suffocative cough. Incessant violent coughing. Child stiffens and goes blue or red in face. Patient may cough until he retches or vomits. There can be nausea with the cough, also a sensation of weight in the chest with dyspnoea. Haemoptysis worse from the slightest exertion. Deep wet rattling coughs but the phlegm cannot be raised. Patient can be irritable and contrary when unwell. Open air, rest and warmth but cold drinks can ameliorate the patient. Consider also in whooping cough where there are nosebleeds.

Consider this remedy for violent spasmodic coughs with stabbing chest pains which occur independently of breathing motions. (Bryonia has pain on any movement) Whole chest is very sensitive when coughing and can feel cold. Can cough until retches or vomits (Ipecac). Expectoration, which is difficult, is small hard round lumps that can be sticky and can taste salty or sour. Cough is worse from breathing cold air, becoming cold, exertion. Breathing difficulties can alternate with diarrhoea. Asthmatic cough, any breathing difficulties are eased by leaning forward with arms on knees. Patient is thirsty, chilly, fearful, irritable, wants company and may desire sweets when unwell.

For hard, dry, tight, tickling, wheezing violent coughs especially if follows a cold. Patient is exhausted by the racking cough. Can also retch from coughing so violently. There is irritation and burning soreness in the larynx and behind the sternum. Bursting headaches when coughing. Oppression and constriction of chest, dry, hot feeling in the chest. Pains in left upper chest or going into throat or right arm. Sputum is yellow, sour, or salty. Patient is worse in the open air, going from warm to cold rooms or vice versa (Rumex), and is also worse in the morning and evening. Patient is generally thirsty for cold drinks, but these can aggravate the cough.

An excellent cough remedy especially when there is marked sensitivity to change of temperature and severe tickling in the throat. Cough from any change in temperature e.g., moving from one room to another. Every breath of cold air causes tickling in the throat pit and continuous coughing, this is helped by covering the mouth. Paroxysmal cough after lying down. Any irregularity in airflow causes cough so the patient breathes as shallowly as possible. Slight urinary incontinence on coughing. Tough stringy expectoration, but also can be profuse and thin. Pain or rawness under clavicle or under sternum (Phos). Barking cough. Cough can be regular e.g., at 11pm, 2 and 5 am.

A good cough remedy for dry coughs with burning in the chest, larynx, and throat, also hollow, barking, crowing, tight croupy coughs. There is no wheezing or rattling of catarrh. When catarrh is present it is difficult to raise. Patient wakes up feeling as if they are suffocating, and with a hard violent cough, this usually occurs before midnight. Breathing is very difficult, so patient is anxious, fearful and gasps for air. Patient is helped by putting his head back (Hepar Sulph.) Cough is worse talking, swallowing, cold drinks; but warm drinks help.