People sometimes use home remedies containing pineapple juice as an alternative to cough medicine. However, there is little scientific research to verify it’s effectiveness in managing a cough.

Coughing is the body’s innate response to protect itself from foreign materials. Many possible causes lead to cough. Many individuals rely on natural remedies to treat the condition.

Pineapple, or Ananas comosus, is a tropical plant from the family Bromeliaceae. It is a nutrient-dense fruit that offers a range of health benefits.

Many people claim that pineapple juice is a natural remedy for cough. However, claims about the effectiveness of natural treatments generally have little to no scientific evidence to back them up.

This article explores the health benefits of pineapple juice and answers the question of its effectiveness in providing cough relief. It also looks at other cough remedies to help people decide which is the right option.

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Coughs are a common ailment, and many people look for simple and natural treatments to relieve them.

Some websites claim that pineapple juice is five times more effective at treating cough than cough medication. An old viral Facebook post, now fact-checked and labeled as false information, claims that pineapple juice is 500% more effective than cough syrup.

While there is some medical research around pineapple juice, there is a need for more evidence of its effectiveness as a cough remedy.

Pineapple contains bromelain, a group of enzymes found in the stem and fruit of the pineapple. Some use it to treat bronchitis and sinusitis for its ability to dissolve mucus and its anti-inflammatory properties.

There are small studies on the use of bromelain for sinusitis. However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NIH) stated that there is not enough high quality research to prove this.

A 2016 study comparing honey (placebo) with honey with bromelin to treat acute irritative cough found immediate improvements in both groups. Honey may have a therapeutic effect on cough and mucus.

This does not undermine the experiences of those who have personally found pineapple juice helpful in relieving a cough. It just means that further research is needed to prove it is effective.

Learn more about bromelain here.

Pineapple may be good for cough because of bromelain’s anti-inflammatory properties. Findings show that oral intake of bromelain may minimize congestion, suppress coughing, and improve breathing.

Studies have not yet proven pineapple juice to specifically relieve coughs. However, it still contains certain characteristics — such as immune-boosting and antibacterial properties — that can help reduce cough symptoms. Though its effectiveness will still depend on the cause of the cough.

A 2021 article stated that bromelain could effectively treat angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor-induced cough. ACE inhibitors are a medication used to treat high blood pressure, and some people who take them experience a dry cough.

While the effectiveness of pineapple juice as a cough remedy is still in question, it does have nutritional properties that suggest it may help reduce cough symptoms.

It is helpful to remember that pineapple juice also contains:

Research also shows that bromelain has many therapeutic properties:

Studies also show that its anti-inflammatory properties help mitigate the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in people undergoing cancer treatment.

The combination of bromelain and curcumin can also have immune-boosting effects that can help prevent severe COVID-19.

Given the many health benefits of pineapple juice, there is little harm in using this remedy to promote health.

Learn more about the health benefits of pineapple juice.

If someone wants to try pineapple juice as a home cough remedy, there are recipes they can try. Here are two simple ideas to get started.

Traditional pineapple cough remedy

The most common pineapple juice remedy uses a few simple ingredients.

To make this traditional pineapple cough remedy at home, combine:

  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey

Those who recommend taking this remedy advise drinking a 1/4 cup up to three times daily. It is important to remember that raw honey may not be safe for children under 1 and may cause infant botulism.

Drinking warm water and other liquids may help loosen, move, and break down the mucus and soothe the irritated throat.

Pineapple cough remedy with a kick

This recipe builds on the traditional pineapple cough remedy mixture with the addition of cayenne pepper and ginger for a spicy kick.

To make this remedy at home, mix the following ingredients in a blender:

  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 3 inches ginger root
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Those who recommend taking this remedy advise drinking a 1/4 cup up to three times daily.

People who cannot drink pineapple juice due to allergies, diet restrictions, or preference may consider other remedies to help reduce mucus. Some other natural foods and drinks may help relieve a cough or soothe symptoms. These include:

  • Honey: A 2018 Cochrane study found that honey can alleviate cough better than no treatment, placebo, or diphenhydramine.
  • Licorice and green tea: A 2022 study found that gargling green tea or licorice solutions may help with hoarseness, sore through, and cough.
  • Hot water with lemon juice and honey: Honey can soothe the throat, and lemon has natural antibacterial properties.
  • Warm soup: This can be soothing and comforting and may help reduce the discomfort of cough symptoms.
  • Spicy foods: The chemical capsaicin in some spices can help thin out mucus. This helps people clear their chests and blow their noses more easily. However, spices can irritate the throat, so people should be cautious about how much they use in food.
  • Ginger tea: This is soothing and may reduce inflammation, as ginger contains natural anti-inflammatory qualities.
  • Plenty of fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C can help boost the immune system, improving the body’s resistance to colds or coughs.
  • Humid environment: Dry air can irritate the sinuses and impair the body’s ability to fight infections. A humidifier may help moisten the air and make it easier to breathe.

A person with a cough should avoid exposure to air pollutants and irritants, including:

  • cigarettes and secondhand smoke
  • biomass fuel
  • occupational dust and gas
  • outdoor air pollution

What food should a person avoid during a cough?

Certain foods can also worsen a cough. A person should avoid the following:

  • Sugar: Consuming sugar may suppress the immune system.
  • Coffee: Avoid coffee and other drinks containing caffeine, as they can dehydrate.
  • Sharp, dry, or crunchy foods: These foods may scrape or get stuck in the throat and irritate it further.
  • Alcohol: Drinking alcohol can weaken a person’s immune system, prolonging recovery time. Alcohol may also cause dehydration, which may worsen congestion.

If someone has a bad cold or cough, they may find that home remedies are not enough to relieve their symptoms. Speaking with a doctor and trying different medicines is typically the best option if this is the case.

Over-the-counter cough remedies include:

  • Antitussives medicines: These suppress the cough reflex. An example of this is dextromethorphan.
  • Expectorant medicines: These thin out mucus so that a person can quickly expel them with a cough. Guaifenesin is a type of expectorant.

It is important to note that children younger than 4 should not take cough and cold medicines unless instructed by the doctor.

Learn more about cough and cold medications here.

Coughs are common conditions that tend to go away on their own. Some may turn to natural remedies such as pineapple juice to relieve cough. Limited studies prove its effectiveness.

However, pineapple juice is a nutrient-dense fruit with therapeutic properties. It contains bromelain, an enzyme known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

A person experiencing a troubling cough not resolved with natural remedies may ask their doctor if they could take OTC medications. If the cough is chronic, they should seek the help of their doctor for further evaluation.