A drug-free way to kick your winter cough

The holidays are in full swing — and so, unfortunately, is cold and flu season. So today’s topic was a no-brainer.

Anything that promises an effective end to an incessant hacking cough is going to catch my attention as a doctor. Especially if it offers a safe alternative to all the risky cold and flu medicines on the market.

So when I came across a traditional Chinese medicine formula that promises exactly that, I knew I had to share it with you…

Traditional Chinese medicine can calm your cough

Nin Jiom pei pa koa is a traditional Chinese medicine for cough, available either in lozenge or syrup form. You might also see it as simply pei pa koa, which is its original Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) name. It features 16 different all-natural ingredients.

Honey takes top honors — and it also happens to have the best scientific support, at least as a treatment for a cough. One huge Cochrane review of clinical evidence found that honey is even more effective than diphenhydramine — the main ingredient in Benadryl — for treating cough in children.

Then there’s Sichuan fritillary, also known as chuan bei mu. The bulb of this lily-esque flowering plant is a traditional cough suppressant and expectorant. As is Chinese licorice, also known as gan coa.

The compounds in licorice are known to cut inflammation in the throat and lungs, which clinical research shows can calm a cough and sore throat. (Incidentally, I often use licorice root extract, in the form of DGL, for patients with digestive issues. But it’s worth noting that it could raise blood pressure — so if that’s a concern for you, be careful to monitor those numbers closely.)

Apricot seed, also called xing ren, is another common TCM antitussive (cough suppressant) in this formula. It contains the compound amygdalin, which your gut converts into cough-suppressing cyanic acid. (Though it can be toxic in high amounts, so be careful not to overdo it and take only the recommended dosage.)

Extract from the loquât, a small, yellow, egg-shaped fruit, has a long history of use against respiratory issues like bronchitis and asthma, thanks to its ability to cut inflammation and pain. And of course, there are a handful of other ingredients in this natural cough syrup — including ginger and menthol, all tried-and-true TCM remedies for cough or expectoration.

Three steps to flu-proof your immune system

Anything that Big Pharma can’t patent is likely to get slammed by mainstream skeptics. But as I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, if it works for the patient, that’s all the evidence I really need.

Ultimately, you’re going to be better off reaching for a product like Nin Jiom pei pa koa for your cough than you would be using most OTC drugs available. (This is especially true in the case of anticholinergics like Benadryl® or Actifed®, which have been exposed as drivers of dementia risk.)

Still, the best strategy is always to avoid getting sick in the first place. And it’s not as impossible as you think. I manage to dodge that bullet every year, simply by following my own common-sense advice when it comes to staying healthy during cold and flu season.

Here’s your refresher:

  • Eliminate sugar
  • Wash your hands regularly (with plain, old soap and water — NOT anti-bacterial soaps and gels)
  • Take 1,000 mg of AHCC per day

I realize how many funny looks I’ll earn by suggesting you eliminate sugar during the holiday season. But the fact is that just one teaspoon of sugar can suppress the immune system by 56 percent — and two teaspoons by a whopping 84 percent.

The bottom line? It’s far from coincidence that flu infections begin to pick up speed this time of year. Those Christmas cookies come at a steep price. And it’s one that will land you right in your sick bed.

The above protocol, on the other hand, is short and simple. But it works for me. And it will work for you, too.