Pertussis Remedies: Homeopathy & Herbs to Help Children Get Through Pertussis

Many parents have found that nursing a child through pertussis can be greatly enhanced by using homeopathic and/or herbal remedies. Care must be taken to insure that the right remedy is used for the particular symptoms the child is exhibiting. It is always best to consult with a qualified, classically trained homeopathic practitioner, who can evaluate the different stages and symptoms the child moves through and adjust the remedies accordingly.

Dr. Will Taylor, MD is a homeopathic practitioner in the U.S. Here are a few pearls of wisdom from his experience with pertussis.

“Conventional medicine can only intervene with supportive care (observation, humidity, hydration, oxygen). Antibiotics do *not* affect the course of the illness (except, perhaps, in the very early catarrhal phase, before there is any clue that this might be whooping cough); they may be given to the patient to reduce the possibility of contagion to others. But consider that the most common side-effect of erythromycin (the antibiotic most often used for this) is nausea …

“Perhaps one of the reasons allopathy (conventional medicine) worries so much about pertussis is, that they “gots nothin’ to do” for it, and allopaths basically *hate* it when that happens.

“My experience with pertussis is, that it is much, much more difficult for the parents than it is for the child. It is very hard to watch these paroxysmal coughing episodes. I mean sure, they’re rough for the kid to go through, but as parents we feel so incredibly helpless. The kids seem mostly to recover just fine.” (1)

Well known homeopathic remedies often used to treat pertussis are Drosera, Pulsatilla, Ipecacuanha, the homeopathic nosode Pertussin, and others – again always make sure that the homeopathic remedy being used matches the symptoms being exhibited. Bach flower remedies like Rock Rose or Rescue Remedy for panic – can be offered liberally.

Nutritional Suggestions and Helpful Herbal Remedies


mullein, elecampane, thyme, licorice, coltsfoot, drosera (sundew), comfrey oil

Nutritional Supplements:

Vitamins C, E, and A (in beta carotene form)
flaxseed oil. Cod liver oil is rich in vit. A that is unique in helping during infectious diseases.


NO sugar, dairy, wheat, starchy foods, known food allergens. Offer plenty of fresh veggie soups, grated vegetables, chicken soup, fish.
LOTS of water to prevent dehydration and keep lung mucous fluid.
NO dry, crumbly foods that could trigger a cough spasm.

Some Treatment Suggestions:

Thyme Infusion Steam Tent : Bring 3 liters of water to a boil in a large pot. Add a large handful of dried Thyme herb – approx. ¾ cup (ordinary culinary thyme is perfect – preferably organic). Cover pot and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Then have the child sit with face leaning over the pot, covering his/her head with a large bathtowel, and encourage breathing in of the thyme steam for 10 minutes or longer. Duck your own head under the towel at first to insure the steam is not too hot to burn the face or lungs. Do the steam tent a few times a day and at night before bed during acute periods. This remedy is reported to bring great relief to the misery of whooping cough.

Adding the same thyme infusion to a bath is also an excellent way of absorbing the benefits of this lung soothing herb.

Herbal Syrup:
4-5 T. Thyme
1 T. Licorice
5 T. Elecampane
1 C. Mullein
½ C. Coltsfoot
2-3 T. Sundew (Drosera)
maple syrup or honey (for over 1 yr. of age)

To make the syrup, put herbs into pot and cover with 2 liters of water. Bring to a
boil, then simmer until reduce to 1/3 its original volume. Strain out herbs and continue to simmer down to 1 liter liquid. Sweeten if desired. Give about 1 Tablespoon per dose, 1 teaspoon for an infant. Can be frozen into ice cubes and sucked or crushed. Nursing mother can take as well; child will get the benefit through breastmilk. This recipe can be doubled.

More Ideas

Herbal syrup or Drosera syrup given every 3-4 hours and/or homepathic tablets

For children: In evening, give warm bath with 1/2 cup salt, 1/2 cup baking soda, and 1 qt. thyme infusion in tub of water. (Thyme is calming, salt and soda detoxify)

  • After bath massage helps relax tense muscles, especially in back, neck and shoulders. Comfrey oil is soothing to lungs; massage it into chest as well.
  • Then take a pair of socks and some fresh sliced or crushed garlic. Dampen one sock with water, put on foot. Put sliced garlic over wet sock on sole of foot. Cover with dry sock. Leave on overnight. Helps with cough. Can do before OR after child is asleep.
  • Keep extra towels and bowl handy at night. Cough spasms last a minute or longer and produce copious amounts of mucous and saliva. Sometimes child might vomit after cough. Eyes will run with tears also. Keep the Drosera syrup or homeopathic remedy next to bed also.

Consider having your child sleep close to you during the course of this illness. The coughing spasms can be frightening for the child and you want to be available for comfort and help. Mothers have reported that they could anticipate a cough spasm during the night (and day) by breathing changes and would often discreetly sneak the remedy or syrup to the child while they were waking. Have a towel and bowel ready for the anticipated cough spell. Due to the build-up of pressure in the head from coughing, some children might burst a blood vessel in their eye or face. (Some children might crack a rib or two from coughing so hard). Sometimes the coughing fit will go on for a long time before being able to take a breath. Intake of breath MIGHT make the whooping sound, but not always.

Some people never whoop during this illness and can be mistaken by physicians as bronchitis. The key to treating whooping cough is keeping the mucous in the lungs fluid, so it can’t stagnate and turn into pneumonia. Be calm, keep your household calm. Fresh air is good. Children are usually much better during the day. After the initial cold symptoms, you can’t tell the child is sick except for the cough spells, which are often worse at night. After first 4-5 weeks, should not be contagious anymore. Cough spells can last for several months.

Note: Seek medical help immediately if child is having breathing difficulties, if there is blueness around the mouth or if there is excessive vomiting which could lead to dehydration.

References & Sources:

  1. Dr. Taylor quotes from correspondence with homepathic students

Everybody’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicines by Stephen Cummings and Dana Ullman

The Complete Homeopathy Handbook : A Guide to Everyday Health Care by Miranda Castro

Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child by Janet Zand et. al. This book offers excellent information on all forms of treatment for children.

The Herbal for Mother and Child by Anne McIntyre – excellent book, truly one of the best guides for herbal remedies.

Well Within website has extensive listings of homeopathic information and sources

With thanks to Lisa Reiss for many of the herbal suggestions