Garlic, an herb with a pungent flavor, has been used medicinally since ancient times, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, and is a popular home remedy for a variety of conditions in 2011. As with any other herbal remedy, check with your doctor before taking garlic for any health condition, including a chronic or acute cough.
Garlic as a Cough Preventative
Taking garlic after you already have a cough will probably not affect your cough at all. Taking it to prevent the common cold in the first place, however, might help. Garlic taken through the winter months may not only prevent colds, but might shorten the duration of the illness if you do acquire a cold. Preventing the common cold might also prevent secondary infections that cause coughing, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.
Natural Cough Remedies
If you develop a cough, you may be able to treat it at home with home remedies. Try drinking more fluids, especially warm ones, such as tea and chicken broth. These keep the throat and mucus membranes moist, and can ease a dry cough. Honey stirred into your tea may coat your throat and calm an irritating cough. A hot shower or running a humidifier in your bedroom will hydrate your nasal passages and throat, and might help remedy your cough.
Benefits of Garlic
In addition to making colds less likely, garlic does carry other potential benefits. Garlic might reduce high blood pressure and may lower your risk of developing stomach, colon or rectal cancer. Taking garlic may make your skin less attractive to ticks, reducing the chances of a bite and, possibly, of developing tick-borne illnesses, such as Lyme disease. Applying garlic to fungal infections and warts may treat these conditions. Talk to your doctor about these potential benefits of fresh garlic and garlic supplements.
Do not start taking any supplements, including garlic, without the advice of your physician, especially if you have any health conditions or are on any medication. Some medications that garlic may interact with include drugs to treat HIV, birth control pills and blood thinning medications. Taking garlic before surgery or if you have a bleeding disorder may increase your risk of bleeding excessively. Do not give your child garlic without talking to her doctor, as the effects of garlic in children have not been well-studied. Do not stop taking medication that you doctor has prescribed for a health condition and switch to garlic or any other supplement before discussing this with your doctor.
Michelle Kulas worked in the health-care field for 10 years, serving as a certified nurses' assistant, dental assistant and dental insurance billing coordinator. Her areas of expertise include health and dental topics, parenting, nutrition, homeschooling and travel.