There are few things more annoying than a persistent cough – especially when you’re trying to get to sleep. Cough drops can help soothe your throat and give you a break from the coughing. But with so many different brands on the market, how do you know which to choose?
We’ve scoured the internet for ten of the best cough drops out there right now. We’re going to share their pros and cons, to help you make the right choice.
So if you’re fed up of your sore throat, read on!
Table of Contents
The Best Cough Drops on the Market In 2021
1. Ricola Lemon Mint Herbal Cough Suppressant Throat Drops
Ricola cough drops combine a lemon flavor with ten herbs for soothing relief for sore throats.
The active ingredient here is menthol, extracted from mint and peppermint. Other herbs, like thyme, mallow, hyssop, elder and sage are included too. The recipe is a closely guarded secret, and these cough drops have been produced for more than 80 years.
All the herbs are cultivated in the Swiss Alps, in the area between Oberaagau and Emmental. They’re sustainably farmed, without the use of pesticides or insecticides.
The formula draws on the way plants were used by traditional herbalists through the centuries.
Hyssop, horehound and wild thyme were used as remedies for the lungs, and to “gladden the heart”. Mallow and thyme were used to cleanse and calm irritation of the throat. And elder and sage were herbal remedies for colds and sore throats.
The Lemon Mint drops are recommended particularly for sore throats. They’re also good if you’ve lost your voice. Ricola suggest their original formulation as the best choice if you have a cough too.
Note that these do contain sugar, although as the drops are so small it isn’t much. If you’re chewing on a lot of them through the day, though, they may affect your blood sugar levels. And they may be too sweet for some people’s liking.
- Draws on traditional herbal remedies to provide effective relief for sore throats
- Also good at moistening your throat – which will help if you’ve lost your voice
- All the herbs included in the formula are sustainably farmed without pesticides
- They contain sugar, so won’t suit diabetics
- The flavor may be too sweet for some.
2. SoundHealth Cough Drops, Honey Lemon Flavor (Our Top Pick)
SoundHealth’s cough drops have the traditional flavor of honey and lemon. These drops will relieve both your cough and sore throat.
The active ingredient here is methol, and there’s 7.5 mg of it in each cough drop. These also contain sugar, so they won’t be suitable for diabetics. There are 10 calories in each lozenge. And the ingredients are gluten free and kosher. They do, however, contain artificial flavorings.
You’ll get a huge 160 cough drops in each bag, enough to outlast the most stubborn cold.
These are a very economical choice. The price per lozenge is a little over half of that of the Ricola cough drops. And remember: while they don’t have all the extra herbs, they do have exactly the same active ingredient – menthol.
Overall, these are a good, cost-effective buy. But they won’t suit diabetics or those staying away from artificial flavorings. And note that menthol isn’t a good choice for mothers who are breastfeeding. It can reduce milk supply.
- Effective at relieving coughs and sore throats
- Pleasant honey and lemon flavor
- Huge bag offering excellent value for money
- They contain sugar, so aren’t suitable for diabetics
- They contain artificial flavorings.
3. Ludens Throat Drops, Wild Cherry
Ludens Throat Drops are a good choice for mild sore throats and mouth pain. The active ingredient here is pectin, and there’s 2.8 mg in each lozenge. It soothes sore mouths by forming a protective film over the mucous membranes.
Ludens make their throat drops in a wide range of flavors. These include traditional options like honey lemon, as well as more unusual offerings like watermelon and green apple. Our favorite is the wild cherry, and it’s a good option for those who don’t like menthol flavors.
Beware, though, because these do contain sugar, so they’re not a good choice for diabetics. And they are very sweet, which won’t suit everyone.
The distinctive bright red color comes courtesy of artificial colors, and there are artificial flavorings too. If you’re looking for a more natural cough drop, these won’t be the right choice.
- Uses pectin to soothe sore mouths and mild sore throats
- Good option for breastfeeding mums, or those who don’t like menthol flavors
- Will suit people with a sweet tooth
- Not suitable for diabetics
- Contains artificial colors and flavorings.
4. Halls Menthol Oral Anesthetic Drops Intense Cool
If you like your menthol, these are the cough drops for you. Each one contains 15 mg as its active ingredient. That makes them an exceptionally effective treatment for both sore throats and sinus pain.
If you don’t like minty flavors, though, these won’t be to your taste. All that menthol means the flavor is very pronounced. But they are nicely cooling and great for blocked nasal passages. Many people with pollen allergies find they work brilliantly.
They are, however, pricier than many other cough drops. They’ve got twice as much menthol in each lozenge as the SoundHealth drops, but cost well over three times as much per lozenge.
You’ll get 30 lozenges in a bag, and some online retailers offer them in packs of three bags. Note that these do include both sugar and artificial colors.
- Strong menthol formulation is very effective at soothing sore throats
- Excellent for relieving sinus pressure and unblocking nasal passages
- Fresh minty flavor
- Contains sugar and artificial colors
- The high menthol content means these aren’t suitable for mothers who are breastfeeding.
5. Fisherman’s Friend Cough Drops
If you’re looking for a completely natural formulation, Fisherman’s Friend cough drops are a great choice. They’re also extremely effective, using a combination of menthol and eucalyptus to soothe sore throats, coughs and congestion.
The flavor is quite strong, though. And there’s licorice in there too. If you prefer a sweeter cough drop, these won’t be for you. And note that they also contain sugar, so aren’t good for diabetics.
There’s 10 mg of menthol in each lozenge. The formula has been used since 1865 and has been trusted for generations to relieve coughs and colds. They contain no artificial colors or flavorings, and they’re gluten free, Kosher and Halal certified.
Each box contains 38 lozenges, and they’re available online in packs of six boxes. They’re pretty cost-effective too. Each lozenge costs slightly more than the SoundHealth cough drops, but they contain more menthol.
If you buy them online, you may also be reassured to know that there’s no excess water or air in the packaging. That means the carbon footprint of the delivery process is minimized.
- Very effective at unblocking sinuses and soothing sore throats
- Completely natural formulation, with no artificial colors or flavorings
- Good value for money
- The flavor is quite strong and won’t be to everyone’s taste
- Contains sugar and menthol, so not the best choice for diabetics or breastfeeding mums.
6. Cepacol Extra Strength Sore Throat & Cough Lozenges
Cepacol’s extra strength lozenges are a great choice for more serious sore throats. If talking or swallowing is painful, they’re a great choice. The medicated formula will numb the pain, and give you a break from the hot, scratchy sensation. But they’re not designed to suppress coughs.
The active ingredients that achieve this are benzocaine and menthol.
Each lozenge contains 15 mg of benzocaine. This works by blocking nerve signals, effectively switching off the pain. There’s also 3.6 mg of menthol per lozenge. This produces a cooling feeling and stimulates the production of saliva, lubricating dry throats.
These are sugar free, although they do contain artificial sweeteners, colors and flavorings. And the benzocaine content means they’re not suitable for anyone with a history of allergies to local anesthetics.
If that’s not a problem for you, these offer very effective pain relief. They’re expensive, though, and you can’t suck on them constantly. You’ll need to take a two-hour break between each one.
- Effectively numbs and lubricates very sore throats
- Sugar free, so fine for diabetics
- Not formulated to suppress coughs
- Not suitable for anyone with a history of allergies to local anesthetics.
7. Zarbee’s Naturals 96% Honey Cough Soothers
Zarbee’s Naturals are a great choice for anyone looking for an all-natural cough suppressant.
They come in a striking hexagonal box and have a citrus flavor. They’re made of 96 per cent honey. That means they’re very soothing to sore throats, as well as effective at suppressing coughs. And they also contain zinc, vitamin C and echinacea to boost your immune system.
The citrus flavor here is completely natural. And the high honey content means there’s no need for any processed sugar or sweetener. But it does also mean that these aren’t the best choice for diabetics.They are, however, a good choice for breastfeeding mums, as they don’t contain any menthol.
Each lozenge is individually wrapped for convenience. And if you’re worried about them getting sticky in warmer weather, you can pop them in the fridge.
- Suppresses coughs and soothes sore throats, as well as boosting your immune system
- All-natural formulation without artificial flavorings, colors or sweeteners
- Menthol-free, so a good choice for mums who are breastfeeding
- 96 percent honey, so not the best choice for diabetics
- They can get sticky in warm weather – pop them in the fridge to avoid a mess.
8. Herbion Naturals Sugar-Free Cough Drops
Herbion’s cough drops use natural ingredients in a formulation that effectively tackles coughs and sore throats. They also ease congestion, helping you breathe more easily.
The active ingredient here is menthol, and there’s 5.5 mg in each lozenge. That’s lower than most other cough drops, and you’ll pay a lot for these too. There are, however, a range of other plant-based ingredients with therapeutic uses.
These include some you’ll find in other cough drops, like eucalyptus oil, hyssop, and licorice root. Others are more arcane. There’s Malabar nut tree leaf to thin out phlegm, greater galangal rhizome to ease breathing, and large-leaf Geiger tree root to tackle bronchial ailments.
They have a natural orange flavor, and are sweetened with plant-based sweetener Stevia. Anyone with diabetes can use these without worrying about increasing their blood sugar level. And you won’t have to worry about sugar damaging your teeth either.
- Tackles coughs, sore throats and congestion
- All-natural formulation, including a wide range of plant-based remedies
- Pleasant orange flavor and sweetened with Stevia, so fine for diabetics
- The menthol content is low compared to most other cough drops
- These are pretty expensive.
9. Thayers Slippery Elm Lozenges
For those who don’t like the flavor of menthol, or for breastfeeding mothers worried about its impact on their milk supply, Thayers’ Slippery Elm Lozenges are well worth considering.
These don’t contain any menthol at all. Instead, the active ingredient is the inner bark of the Ulmus fulva, the slippery elm tree. Each lozenge contains 150 mg of it.
This forms a protective film over the mucus membranes in the mouth, easing irritation. The lozenges are good for sore throats and hoarse voices, but note that they won’t suppress a cough.
If you’re worried that tree bark may not be particularly tasty, never fear! The flavor here is provided by natural cherry oil. The lozenges have a more powdery than candy-like texture, and they aren’t as sweet as many other cough drops. If you have a sweet tooth, they may not be to your taste.
- Effective at soothing and lubricating sore throats
- All-natural ingredients
- Menthol-free, so suitable for mothers who are breastfeeding
- Won’t relieve a cough
- The cherry flavor may not be strong enough for those with a sweet tooth.
Time to relieve your sore throat!
That brings us to the end of our round-up of ten of the best cough drops out there. There are options to relieve mild and more serious sore throats. Some will suppress coughs. And others include extra ingredients to boost your immune system.
Our favorite is SoundHealth’s Honey Lemon cough drops. They contain plenty of menthol to soothe your throat and ease congestion. And they offer unbeatable value for money. But note that breastfeeding mothers will want to find a non-menthol alternative, like Thayers or Zarbee’s Naturals.
If your throat is so sore that talking or swallowing is painful, try Cepacol’s Extra Strength Lozenges. The benzocaine they contain will provide stronger relief from the pain.
We hope you’re on the mend soon!
Before choosing a cough drop you need to know whether what you have is wet or dry cough. A wet cough, also known as a productive cough, brings up phlegm and is often experienced during a cold or flu. A dry cough, on the other hand, gives you a tickling sensation at the back of the throat without bringing up any phlegm. This type of cough is more difficult to control and is caused by inflammation or irritation in the respiratory tract. A dry cough could also be the result of a respiratory infection.
Cough drops work by dissolving in the mouth and soothing the irritation occurring there. While they can’t make the cough disappear entirely, they do target concerns like relieving the cough, easing sore throat discomfort, and calming the associated inflammation.
Based on what formulation they use, some cough drops can also assist with opening up stuffy sinuses and clearing congestion in the chest. Many derive on the immune-boosting power of vitamin C to keep you protected from further infections.
But not every cough drop will do everything that you may be looking for. In fact, they are manufactured in different ways to yield different effects. For instance, some may cater more to expectorant effects while others work as demulcents.
To get a better idea of which cough drop will do what, here is a look at some different types and what you can hope to from them.
What can cough drops do?
Cough drops can act as expectorants. This class of drugs helps in clearing mucus and phlegm from the throat, lungs, and bronchi. Cough drops contain small amounts of expectorants that help dissolve thick mucus and relieve respiratory difficulties.
Expectorants work by sending signals to the body to increase hydration levels through secretions. This results in clearer secretions and lubricates irritated respiratory tracts.
The other function cough drops perform is to serve as a decongestant. These ingredients are typically used to relieve nasal congestion in the upper respiratory tract. Decongestants reduce mucus formation and target inflammation in the nose, throat, and sinuses. They are effective for shrinking swollen membranes in nasal passages to ease breathing.
Demulcents are used to lubricate and protect mucous membranes. They form a protective film over the affected area and soothe symptoms. Honey and pectin are examples of common demulcents used in cough drops.
Types of cough drops
Just as with any other product, cough drops come in different packages.
Medicated cough drops
These formulations often have some pharmaceutical purposes alongside providing relief from symptoms. These drops are usually fortified with immune-strengthening ingredients such as vitamin C and zinc. Some certain ones may be engineered to produce numbing results to soothe an irritated throat while others do a better job of lubricating an aggravated airways. The flavor of these types of drops may remind you of having some sort of medicine.
Common ingredients found in medicated cough drops can include dextromethorphan which is a very weak opiate that dulls the cough. Another ingredient is pseudoephedrine that acts as a decongestant that decreases mucus production. Guaifenesin in an expectorant that works to loosen secretion.
Flavored cough drops
For people who don’t appreciate the taste of medicated cough drops, there are other flavored varieties available as well. This often spans an array of fruity and minted flavors but there is always some active ingredient present to give the drops therapeutic value. Most flavored varieties rely on either, lemon, honey or menthol to do this.
The one consideration to watch out for here is that flavored cough drops typically have a high sugar content which is helpful in stimulating saliva production, but can also be the downside to these drops. Diabetics in particular, and children in general need monitoring when using flavored cough drops.
Synthetic cough drops
Most commercial brands use synthetic ingredients in their products in the form of added colors, flavorings or preservatives. However, certain others make it a policy to use only all-natural ingredients. Needless to say that the all-natural varieties are definitely better, but sourcing their ingredients may drive up the price.
The efficacy of both kinds doesn’t seem to be too different so if you don’t have any conditions preventing you from using synthetic ingredients, you could go either way.
- Menthol – Perhaps the most popular ingredient in cough drops is none other than menthol. The primary reason why people use cough in the first place is to clear the nasal passages and ease the coughing. Menthol extract with its highly effective cooling sensation does just that. Menthol is derived from peppermint, eucalyptus, and other mint oils.
- Honey – Honey works in way different than menthol. Instead of the cooling and numbing sensation of menthol, honey works by coating the mucous membranes and providing relief from irritation in the area. The antiseptic properties of honey get to work on the throat lining for symptomatic relief.
- Dextromethorphan – Dextromethorphan works as a cough suppressant that provides temporary relief from coughs without phlegm.
- Benzocaine – This is a mild topical antiseptic and causes slight numbness to relieve throat irritation.