Friday, May 07, 2010

A Home Remedy for Coughs

Starting around 1993-4, I developed a persistent cough while living in Orange County, California. It was a dry hack sort of cough. The mucus in the back of my throat was hard and difficult to move. I know, too much information. But that is as bad as it gets, so read on. This was evidence of a slow post-nasal drip that persisted in the winter and seemed to go away in the summer. To say the least, this made for unpredictable conversations with sentences often punctuated by a cough. My friends found conversation by phone difficult to endure.

So I started doing some research on the internet. Yes, I was one of those early adopters, using a dialup connection to browse the web, but my research didn't turn up much. I also talked with friends, doctors, acupuncturists, chiropractors, quacks, anyone who would listen who might have a clue. Postulated causes included mold, dust mites, and acid reflux. After 17 years of living with this condition, I've come to the conclusion that it is a combination of seasonal environmental factors and a very mild case of acid reflux.

Along the way, I tried everything I could think of or find to deal with it. I tried drinking lots of water, cough drops, cough syrup, vitamins in liquid form (temporary relief, not sure fire), working with my anger (someone said that coughing is a sign of unresolved anger), changing my diet, eating smaller portions and taking note of things that made me cough. I can't recall all of the things I have tried, but there are two things that seemed to help a lot. Eating smaller portions and less food overall was one of them. I noticed that if I wasn't too full, I tended to cough less, a tremendous weight control benefit, if I ever saw one. I also felt better and maintained a lower weight when I reduced my food intake. Weight control hasn't ever really been a problem since I have a self-image that requires me to be thin. But as I get older, I've noticed some changes.

The other remedy that I found to work, came quite by accident around 2004, I can't remember the exact time. All I know is that back then, I would have coughing fits that lasted for 5, 10 or even 15 minutes. I never knew when they would come and tried very hard to find a pattern to the madness.

I remember the day of discovery. After about 15 minutes of coughing a really dry, hard cough, I was desperate enough to try something else. I had bought some seed oil in the belief that it could help me with my receding hairline. It was Udo's Choice 3-6-9 Oil Blend. While I was coughing for my life, I went to the kitchen, grabbed a spoon and the oil and prepared to give myself two big tablespoons of the stuff. I was coughing uncontrollably at this point and my hands were shaking as I was trying to pour the oil onto the spoon. I was determined to get the the oil into me. I just wanted to see what would happen.

After I managed to get a good dose of oil, I continued to cough and waited to see what would happen. In about 3 minutes the cough was gone. Completely gone. I was amazed and elated at the same time. I had lived with this demon for about ten years at the time that I tried the oil and I finally found what appeared to be the best cough expectorant on earth.

Without my luck, I probably never would have found it. No doctor in his right mind would have prescribed that for me, as the liability would simply be too high. Accupuncturists would be thinking about my Qi rather than my diet. And chiropractors could probably have isolated the cause to my nerves somewhere.

From the beginning, I wanted to avoid any kind of medication believing that food is medicine. I wanted to find a way to use a natural remedy that I could use any time, as often as I needed in order to make the cough go away. The oil was at least one answer. I have determined that this oil has a number of positive effects on my throat. First, it provides nutrition for my throat. The raw tissues, raw from coughing, can absorb nutrients immediately. Second, the oil acts like a lubricant, moving the phlegm up and out and breaking it up. Third, the oil acts as a moisturizer, helping to keep my throat moist so that the phlegm can move more easily and protecting the tissues from dry air, a bonus with really dry air here in Salt Lake City.

I can say unequivocally that Udo's Choice 3-6-9 blend is by far the best cough expectorant I have ever tried. But you will never hear it from any in the medical profession because they can't prescribe it. And they might not want to as it could crimp their revenue stream. You will never see a commercial on TV for this stuff since it's not habit forming and I think it would be pretty hard to explain the benefits in 30 seconds. Not only that, every pharma advertiser would scream bloody murder if news like this were to get out. Besides, you can't patent the oil.

So how did it come to this? Well, we have an entrenched, protected monopoly known as the American Medical Association. They can't compete with home remedies. I'm sure there are some doctors who feel free to recommend more sleep and exercise, but oil? I don't think so. And then there is Big Pharma, they like to talk about free markets and how they should be left free to innovate, but they often fail to mention that they have a protected monopoly. Big pharma wants your doctor to make frequent off-label prescriptions while reaping royalties from the patents on their drugs. They might even give a wink and a nod to the Oxycontin Express, too. At the same time, they don't want you or your doctor reading the studies on their drugs to see how the tests were done, what the results were and what alternatives to consider. They pretty much want to own the pipe that leads to your mouth.

Perhaps you've been wondering why health care is so ridiculously expensive in America. I offer the preceding as a pretty good indicator of why it is what it is. It's estimated that thanks to their protected monopoly, American doctors earn twice as much as their counterparts in Europe and Japan. On top of that, patent monopolies are estimated to increase the cost of drugs from 200 to 5,000 percent, not to mention all the ripple effects across the economy. And don't forget that patents have been shown to stifle innovation.

I'm writing this article now because I thought I had escaped the cough by moving to Utah. I skated in the first Winter in Utah. But as recently as just a few weeks ago, "The Cough" as I call it, prevailed upon me again. So I went to Whole Foods and Sunflower Market to pick up the oil. If you live in Orange County, you can get it at Mother's Market (Wow! Now with six locations to serve you), too. The cough took me by surprise and over the course of a week, became intolerable. So I started the oil regime again and this time it took a few days to calm down and for the burning sensation in my throat to settle down. I still have a cough here and there, but it's mostly controlled thanks to the help from Udo's oil.

If you have a dry, hard tickle cough that comes out of nowhere from time to time, like with me, then I highly recommend that you give Udo's oil a try. You have nothing to lose and you might even grow hair where you least expect it. Well, maybe not. As for the cough, it works for me.