apple cider vinegar for cough phlegm

It is said that the American President, John Adams, drank a tankard of hard cider every day and lived to be 91 yo. In this guide, I will answer the question, “is apple cider vinegar good for a cough” and also will be discussing some easy recipes of vinegar cough suppressant.

What Causes Coughs?

Coughs and sore throats are usually mild ailments which rarely have any serious causes. However, they can be annoying and irritating and, in younger children, can even be anxiety-provoking for the parents. Most cases of coughs disappear on their own, however in some rare cases; they may occur due to some serious underlying health issue. Here are the common causes of coughs in adults and kids:

Viral Upper Respiratory Infection

Viral coughs are generally seasonal and are more common during the cooler months. Many adults and children are known to suffer from coughs at least 2-3 times a year.

These are usually harmless but acute viral coughs can last for weeks which can be very annoying. Constant coughing can also lead to chest pain, stomach ache etc.

Sometimes, viral coughs can be contagious. They may be accompanied by sore throat, flu, runny nose or nasal congestion, headache, fever, general malaise and body ache. Coughs mostly get better within 3-4 weeks; you can try the effective apple cider vinegar for cough remedies I will shortly discuss below. Do see a doctor if your condition does not improve.

Chronic Coughs

These may occur due to smoking or other health issues. Quitting nicotine and treating the underlying ailment is the best remedy for such coughs. You can also use apple cider vinegar and honey for preventing chronic coughs.

Gastric Reflux

Acidity, indigestion, gastric reflux disease or GERD can also lead to coughs. Treating the underlying health issue can get rid of this type of a cough. The apple cider vinegar cough remedies described below can relieve acidity by making your system alkaline. Vinegar balances the ph of the body to aid digestion, strengthen immunity and prevent acidity and heartburn.

Drugs, Asthma and Environmental Factors

Certain kinds of drugs, asthma, pollutants etc. can also lead to coughing. This is usually harmless but can be distressing for you and those living or working with you. You generally do not need antibiotics for this type of a cough.

Apple cider vinegar and honey, along with steam inhalation, daily vacuuming and avoiding pollutants are some of the best remedies to treat this type of a cough.

Why Should You Not Take Medicines for a Cough?

There are three kinds of cough medicines available in the market:

  • One helps loosen dry cough
  • The second thins out thick mucous
  • And the third kind suppresses a cough

A cough is a healthy defence mechanism of the body. It is a natural system through which the body throws out unwanted substances from the throat, larynx, trachea and lungs.

While over-the-counter cough medicines give the patient (and everyone around him) much-needed relief, you certainly do not want infected secretions to stay in your respiratory tract or enter your lungs.

If your cough is due to an allergen like dust, mould, pollutants etc., then taking an antihistamine may help, but only temporarily. Antihistamine medicines also come with side effects like severe drowsiness which can interfere with your ability to drive or use machinery. Hence it is best to avoid taking medicines for an acute cough.

What is Apple Cider Vinegar? Why Should You Be Using it Every Day?

Most of us know what vinegar is; we have all used it for cooking or cleaning at some point or another. All vinegar is formed by fermentation.

The word vinegar comes from French word vin aigre which means sour wine. When you ferment apples with the right bacteria, you get hard cider or alcohol. Upon further fermentation of this cider, the alcohol turns into malic and acetic acids. This resulting sour mixture is known as apple cider vinegar and is:

  • Inexpensive
  • Multitasking
  • All natural
  • Antibacterial
  • Antifungal
  • Fat burning
  • Cholesterol lowering
  • Immune boosting

Apple cider vinegar is, perhaps, the most commonly prescribed all natural medicinal remedy for hundreds of ailments. There is documented evidence that Hippocrates recommended a liquid called Oxymel (a mixture of vinegar and honey) for promoting expectorant action to aid breathing and for other respiratory and lung-related disorders.

Vinegar is the essential building block of many substances in the body, and hence physicians throughout history have been recommending vinegar for various ailments. Dr Edouard Denis-Dumont, born in 1830 dedicated a significant part of his life to researching cider vinegar. He believed that cider vinegar was a miracle drink that could cure gallbladder disease, kidney stones, gout, diabetes, dental, urinary and respiratory issues.

Apple Cider Vinegar for Coughs and Colds

Is apple cider vinegar good for a cough? Apple cider vinegar is a natural antibacterial and antiviral. These properties make it a great natural remedy for coughs, colds, flu and other upper respiratory infections. Cider vinegar basically works to strengthen the immune system.

Regular intake of warm cider vinegar and honey drink not only relieves the discomfort caused by coughs and colds - it can also reduce the duration of the cold. If you have a cough along with cold, place the honey vinegar cough remedy near your bed. Sip on it at night if a cough keeps you awake. 

Apple cider vinegar soothes the throat, balances the ph or regulates the acid-alkaline balance. It also improves the health of the respiratory tract and prevents symptoms like watery eyes, nasal discharge, dry cough, productive or cough-with-phlegm etc.

The apple pectin in cider vinegar binds to toxins and assists in their removal. Not just for humans, apple cider vinegar cough remedy can also help cats and dogs with a cough, cold and respiratory problems.

Where to Buy Apple Cider Vinegar?

Avoid buying filtered apple cider vinegar. The bottle label should ideally say “Raw, Organic and Unpasteurised”. You can get it in most grocery stores, health food stores or on Amazon.

Raw and unpasteurised apple cider vinegar is the best because it is not mass produced. It is also more likely to have “mother” intact. The "mother" of apple cider vinegar is essentially the vinegar generating organism.

Mass produced apple cider vinegar will not have "mother" and may be highly attenuated with heat and chemicals. So always look for organic, unfiltered and unpasteurised varieties only.

You probably have heard about Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar and it's a great brand but I prefer Viva Naturals Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar because it is not only non-GMO and organic but it tastes better that Bragg ACV.  You can order it here on Amazon

Store your apple cider vinegar in a cool, dry place. Because of its high acidity, there is very little chance of it getting mouldy or spoilt. That said; it is still best to follow the 'best by' date on its label.

Now we will study some apple cider vinegar for cough and phlegm remedies.

Best Natural Cough Remedies with Apple Cider 

1. Easy Apple Cider Vinegar Dry Cough Remedy

  • 1 glass of water
  • 4 tsp of organic, raw apple cider vinegar

Mix the water and vinegar. Sip slowly each time the cough is aggravated. This is the most popular apple cider vinegar for cough recipe.

2. Oregano Oxymel Honey and Apple Cider Vinegar Cough Suppressant and for Chest Congestion

Oxymels (from the Latin oxymeli meaning “acid and honey”) are traditional sweet, sour syrups used for treating sore throat, coughs and other upper respiratory issues. They are a powerhouse of antimicrobial properties which can knock down a wide range of germs.

Honey and vinegar for cough has been used as a natural cough remedy around the world.

Apple cider vinegar and honey for cough is an immune building tonic. Raw honey (use Manuka honey) contains many compounds to fight bacteria, viruses, allergens and other factors that are responsible for dry coughs and chest congestion.

Manuka honey for cough is very effective when combined with apple cider vinegar. I recommend this brand as it is NZ genuine, unadulterated quality Manuka honey with a high  KFactor.

KFactor is New Zealand government-approved rating system guaranteeing high Manuka pollen count. Wedderspoon Raw Premium Manuka Honey is also Amazon's Choice.

This recipe is very flexible, you can alter the amounts of vinegar and honey to suit your taste. Since oregano is abundant in summers, make a large batch of this oxymel. Oxymels have a long shelf life so that you can store it safely for the winter.


  • 1/3rd cup chopped fresh oregano leaves (use this high quality dried oregano if fresh leaves are unavailable).
  • 80 ml or 1/3rd cup each raw honey (Manuka honey) and raw, unpasteurised apple cider vinegar


  • Finely chop the oregano leaves and place them in a canning jar with a non-metallic lid.
  • Pour vinegar all over the leaves and stir.
  • Next, add the honey and stir again. If you want sweeter oxymel, add more honey.
  • Cap the jag with nonmetallic lid.
  • Set the jar aside for 4-5 weeks to allow the vinegar, honey and oregano leaves to infuse and for the flavours to meld.
  • Strain the mixture. Store it in a cool, dry place for up to a year.

To use

Take oxymel several times a day by the spoonful when symptoms of a sore throat, dry cough, and flu or chest congestion bother you.

Have you been wondering if apple cider vinegar is suitable for toddlers? This recipe is very popular with children due to its sweet taste. You can also replace oregano with thyme or basil leaves.

3. Homemade Cough Syrup for Phlegm or Productive Coughs

With a handful of pantry ingredients and few minutes of your time, you will have a great homemade cough remedy with Apple cider vinegar. This is a spicy, sweet and soothing remedy with an expectorant action. It is a great defence against the flu and common colds.

This apple cider vinegar for cough and phlegm recipe contains cayenne pepper, ginger and honey all of which are natural expectorants. Expectorants loosen the phlegm and mucus from the lungs. Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin- an anti-inflammatory compound that relieves swelling from the nasal passage. Apple cider vinegar helps thin out the mucus to let you breathe easier. This is very effective homemade cough syrup with apple cider vinegar.

  • 2 tbsp each organic raw apple cider vinegar, Manuka honey and water
  • ¼ tsp each ground ginger and cayenne powder each

To make: In a jar, combine all ingredients and shake well. Store the jar in a cool, dry place.

To use: Take 1-2 tbsp as desired to relieve symptoms. If needed, warm the mixture first before taking.

Eight More Remedies with Apple Cider Vinegar to Relieve Coughs in Kids and Adults

  • Sprinkle some apple cider vinegar on the child’s pillow or place a towel dipped in vinegar next to your child’s pillow to relieve nighttime coughs!
  • Cut up a lemon. Boil it with apple cider vinegar until the lemon is soft and mushy. Mash the lemon and strain the decoction. Mix it up with enough raw honey to sweeten it. Take 1 tsp of this syrup to relieve a sore throat and dry cough.
  • Cook 10 peeled garlic cloves in apple cider vinegar until soft and mushy. Mash well and sweeten with honey. Keep this syrup in a jar. Take a teaspoonful to relieve wet, productive coughs.
  • Chop up a peeled potato in water. Add ¼ cup of raw apple cider vinegar to this. When the potato is soft and mashed, strain the liquid. Sweeten with ¼ cup clover or manuka honey. Take a tablespoon of his mixture every half an hour to relieve troublesome coughs.
  • Heat ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil and add 3 tbsp of raw organic apple cider vinegar to it. When warm, remove from heat and stir in honey. Take as needed to reduce coughs.
  • Mix 1/3rd cup of raw honey (I recommend this high quality Manuka) with ¼ cup apple cider vinegar. Dissolve the honey.  Add a teaspoon of hot red pepper powder to it. Eat a teaspoon of this mixture to relieve sore throats and coughs.
  • Gargle with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and honey to relieve a sore throat. Honey has pain relieving properties while apple cider vinegar acts as a natural antiseptic.
  • Heat ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar with 1 tsp of grated onion. To this warm mixture, add a 2/3rd cup of raw honey. Take a teaspoon before each meal and at bedtime to relieve a sore throat, cough and colds.

Preventing Coughs

As with any ailment, prevention is the best cure when it comes to coughs. Here are some easy steps you can take to prevent coughs:

  • Wash your hands frequently. This will prevent infected droplets from entering your system. Carry a hand sanitiser if needed. Avoid touching your nose and eyes especially in flu season as it can spread the germs to these tissues.
  • Drink plenty of water. Sip of hot water and herbal tea to prevent mucous formation.
  • Take honey and vinegar daily even if you do not have a cough. The antibacterial properties of honey prevent coughs and colds while apple cider vinegar strengthens the immune system to keep you healthy.
  • Eat healthily. Include plenty of fresh, organic, local and seasonal fruits and vegetables in your diet. These will supply antioxidants to keep you strong from the inside.
  • Supplement with a quality multivitamin, omega-3 fish oil and probiotic.
  • Increase your intake of vitamin C. This antioxidant vitamin prevents coughs and colds and can also reduce the duration of the cold.
  • Eat Manuka honey every day. Manuka honey has even more medicinal properties compared to regular honey. It strengthens the immunity to prevent chronic coughs.
  • Run a humidifier in winters especially at night to prevent dry air from causing inflammation of the nasal airways.

If you are wondering whether apple cider vinegar and honey remedy is indeed good for coughs, the answer is yes. This ingredient duo has even been recommended by Hippocrates and hundreds of physicians in the past.

Today, more and more people are waking up to the benefits of apple cider vinegar as a cough suppressant and chest congestion remedy. Try out one of the remedies above and experience the difference.

About the Author

Barbara is the founder and owner of She is a former research scientist with a serious passion for health. She enjoys writing about nutrition, wellness and lifestyle and empowering people to take control of their health.

  • Armindo De Oliveira says:

    I thank you for the information. It’s great help to me for my searching for how to find a cure. Now I can go to my local Chemist to buy the medicine that I see in your information list.

  • The benefits sound great but I think I have to pass on the vinegar, yuk!

  • Interesting read. I’ll have to try it next time I have a cough

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