The Croup Virus and How to Treat it Naturally

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Croup Virus and Treating Croup in Infants

Recently, I’ve heard about a lot of mothers struggling with croup in infants. I saw quite a lot of them posting in mom’s groups on Facebook that they were taking their children to the doctor for breathing treatments and steroid shots. Occasionally, this is necessary, especially with a child who already has respiratory issues like asthma. However, I figured it might be helpful to share a little bit about what you can do at home for croup in infants.
The earlier you use natural treatments at home, the faster an illness can run its course and the more likely you are to be able to keep things under control.

What Is Croup?

Croup is the result of the same virus that causes the common cold. In fact, it can often occur just after your child has had a cold or cough. This year is a perfect storm for croup here in Central Ohio. Our weather gets very cold and then snaps back to almost spring-like weather with rain and thunder. This back and forth weather comes on the tail-end of the holiday season where many children indulged in more than their fair share of sugar. So, little bodies are weakened and open to whatever might be passed around at school.
The second factor here is that we are indoors quite a lot right now. Unless you have a whole house humidifier, you are likely living in very dry inside air. Our pellet stove keeps us warm, but it also dries out our mucous membranes leaving us vulnerable to viral attack.
Croup is a cough that seems to linger and sounds like a “bark.” It is produced from a throat that has become overly dry and inflamed. The inflammation shrinks the air passages and changes the way a cough sounds.
Most cases of croup in infants are very mild, but to keep them that way takes a bit of knowledge. If the cough is not treated at home early, it is likely to get more and more inflamed and can threaten to greatly reduce a child’s ability to get oxygen. This is when you must head to a doctor for help.

Natural Treatments for Croup

Here are a few natural suggestions to help keep your chid at home and comfortable until a mild case of croup runs its course:

1. Steam

Once or twice daily, park your child in a small bathroom and turn on the hot water to create a steamy environment. Help them sit there for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you may create a therapeutic steam with a bowl of boiled water and a towel, tented over the child’s head and the bowl. (You may need to sit with young children to be sure they don’t touch the bowl or water.)

2. Rest

Your child is fighting off a virus. Anything they do other than that is pulling focus from that job. No running and playing or going back to school. Rest, sleep, and relaxation is the key.

3. Fever

Allow any fever that is not excessively high (103° and up) or prolonged with no change (more than 4-5 days) to run its course. Do not attempt to bring the temperature down.

4. Fresh Air

If it’s not too cold, a bit of humid chilly air can be very helpful to moisten the airways and take down the inflammation a bit. Be sure to dress warmly, even if you’re just sitting inside a slightly open window.

5. Mullein Tea

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is one of the best plants to use for croup. It is high in mucilage to soothe and moisturize dry membranes while alleviating the cough.

Mullein Tea for Croup Relief


  • 2 teaspoons mullein leaf (find it online or at your local health food store)
  • 4 ounces hot water
  • 2 ounces fresh lemon juice
  • dollop of raw honey


Pour hot water over the mullein and steep for 15 minutes. Strain. Add lemon juice and honey. Drink 4-6 ounces three times a day.

Dawn Combs

About Dawn Combs

Dawn is a wife, mother, farmer, author, ethnobotanist, professional speaker and educator. She has over 20 years of ethnobotanical experience, is a certified herbalist and has a B.A. in Botany and Humanities/Classics. Dawn is co-owner of Mockingbird Meadows, the home farm for her educational web channel Heal Local. She is the author of Conceiving Healthy Babies, An Herbal Guide to Support Preconception, Pregnancy and Lactation (New Society Publishers, 2014) and Heal Local, 20 Essential Herbs for Do-it-Yourself Home Healthcare (New Society Publishers, 2015).

The Croup Virus and How to Treat it Naturally was written by Dawn Combs.

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