The 9 Best Cough Drops of 2022: Stock Up for Cold & Flu Season

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, we all learned some important lessons about the value of self-care. With the cold and flu season approaching, one of the best ways to show self-care is to stock up on supplies, ensuring you're ready should some seasonal illness arrive at your home or workplace. In particular, make sure you have good cough drops on hand to provide some short-term relief during your bout with illness.

Of course, there are a lot of cough drops to choose from. Are they all the same? And if not, how do you determine which cough drops will be most helpful? Leave it to us. The ACTIVE Reviews Team has researched several of the best cough drops on the market and put together a definitive list.

Why Trust Us?

The health and safety of ACTIVE's readers is of the utmost importance to us. To ensure your well-being when consuming cough drops, the ACTIVE.com editorial team prioritizes products that are independently tested by a third-party. We've also consulted with a team of nutritionists and dieticians to ensure the products we feature are of the highest standard. This helps us create the most accurate, authentic review content for our readers. More importantly, fitness may be our job, but it is also our passion. Therefore, we strive to bring you products that we trust and would personally use.

The Best Cough Drops - Our Top Picks

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Best Cough Drop Overall - Luden's Wild Cherry

Luden's Wild Cherry

SPECS

  • Flavor options (rating scale - see below): 1
  • Artificial sweetener(s): Yes
  • Key ingredient(s): Pectin

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The Luden's Wild Cherry cough drop is a classic option that should appeal to the entire family. It contains pectin as the active ingredient, which means that it soothes and suppresses coughs without leaving a strong menthol flavor in your mouth. Indeed, if you're menthol-averse, this bright, bold cherry flavor will be a welcome alternative. Note, however, that these cough drops do contain some artificial sweeteners. Nevertheless, we've chosen the Luden's Wild Cherry as the best overall option because we find them to be the best-tasting, fastest-working, and most satisfying cough drops on the market today.

What We Like

  • Great flavor
  • Excellent option if you don't like menthol
  • Pectin ensures fast-acting results
  • Great for soothing a scratchy throat
  • Reasonable price point

What We Don't Like

  • No flavor variety
  • Not recommended if you prefer something free of artificial sweeteners

BUY: Luden's Wild Cherry

Best Cough Drop with Zinc - Beekeeper's Naturals

Beekeeper's Naturals

SPECS

  • Flavor options (rating scale - see below): 1
  • Artificial sweetener(s): No
  • Key ingredient(s): Raw honey, bee propolis, vitamin D, zinc

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Beekeeper's Naturals cough drops are fortified with natural immune-boosting ingredients like zinc, vitamin D, and raw honey, making them a great option if you're looking for a more holistic approach to cough suppression. Zinc is one of several vitamins and minerals known to promote a well-functioning immune system, something you'll definitely want as you're beginning to feel cold and flu symptoms coming on.

These natural cough drops are of course made without artificial sweeteners, and they're also backed by independent lab testing. Although one of the pricier options on this list, we believe these are just the cough drops you'll want to have handy at the first signs of a cold.

What We Like

  • Excellent option if you don't like menthol
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • Ingredients naturally support immune health
  • Backed by third-party testing

What We Don't Like

  • No flavor variety
  • Higher price point

BUY: Beekeeper's Natural

Best Cough Drop with Vitamin C - Halls Defense

Halls Defense

SPECS

  • Flavor options (rating scale - see below): 2
  • Artificial sweetener(s): No
  • Key ingredient(s): Vitamin C

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Everyone knows that vitamin C is one of the core components of a robust immune system—and that eating plenty of citrus is a good way to keep your vitamin C levels high. Halls Defense cough drops combine a zesty citrus flavor with high vitamin C content to help kickstart your immune system into overdrive. We believe this is another excellent cough drop product to have on hand to take at the first hint of a cold and hopefully stop your symptoms in their tracks.

What We Like

  • Excellent option if you don't like menthol
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • Ingredients naturally support immune health
  • Great value
  • Assorted citrus flavors

What We Don't Like

  • Not recommended if you want something medicated
  • Flavor may be a too strong and tangy for some

BUY: Halls Defense

Best Sugar-Free Cough Drop - Ricola Sugar-Free Lemon Mint

Ricola Sugar-Free Lemon Mint

SPECS

  • Flavor options (rating scale - see below): 1
  • Artificial sweetener(s): Yes
  • Key ingredient(s): Menthol

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Is it possible for cough drops to have an appealing, refreshing flavor without the addition of processed sugars? You bet! Try the Ricola Sugar-Free Lemon Mint, an invigorating flavor that helps to mask the bite of menthol, the active ingredient in this cough drop. Ricola's herbal blend soothes the throat and provides real, short-term relief from a bad cough.

These cough drops are a great choice for athletes who desire a medicated option that isn't loaded up with artificial colors or flavors. Note, however, that they are sweetened with aspartame, an artificial sweetener.

What We Like

  • Refreshing, herbal flavor
  • Good option if you want something medicated

What We Don't Like

  • Not recommended if you prefer non-menthol
  • May be too zesty for kids

BUY: Ricola Sugar-Free Lemon Mint

Best Extra-Strength Cough Drop - Cepacol Extra Strength

Cepacol Extra Strength

SPECS

  • Flavor options (rating scale - see below): 1
  • Artificial sweetener(s): Yes
  • Key ingredient(s): Menthol, benzocaine

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Sometimes you need fast relief from scratchiness, soreness, and discomfort in your mouth and throat—during these times, you'll want to turn to a drop that promises powerful numbing effects to help soothe your pain. Cepacol Extra Strength cough drops are made with powerful oral pain relievers, making them a good pick not just for relieving a sore throat but also for mitigating pain caused by canker sores and other wounds inside the mouth. Though this is a slightly more expensive cough drop compared to some other options on this list, it's a good product to have on standby for when acute oral pain sets in.

What We Like

  • Powerful oral pain relief
  • Good pick for relieving pain from mouth sores
  • Refreshing cherry flavor

What We Don't Like

  • Higher price point
  • Not for kids
  • Contains artificial sweeteners

BUY: Cepacol Extra Strength

Best Cough Drop for Sore Throat - Halls Triple Soothing Action

Halls Triple Soothing Action

SPECS

  • Flavor options (rating scale - see below): 1
  • Artificial sweetener(s): Yes
  • Key ingredient(s): Menthol

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Halls Triple Soothing Action is our top pick for a cough drop that effectively dulls the pain of a sore and inflamed throat. Made with a hearty dose of menthol, these drops are capable of providing immediate throat-pain relief with a refreshing minty flavor that enhances its cooling effects. And while these drops may be our top pick for sore throats, we should note that they're called "triple soothing action" for a reason: They not only ease sore throat pain but also soothe inflamed nasal passageways and help suppress coughs.

What We Like

  • Powerful oral pain relief
  • Refreshing mint flavor
  • Menthol provides fast-acting soothing for a sore throat

What We Don't Like

  • Artificial sweeteners used
  • Not recommended if you prefer something menthol-free

BUY: Halls Triple Soothing Action

Best Cough Drop with Honey - Wedderspoon Organic Manuka Honey Soothing Drops

Wedderspoon Organic Manuka Honey Soothing Drops

SPECS

  • Flavor Options (rating scale - see below): 3
  • Artificial sweetener(s): No
  • Key ingredient(s): Honey

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Honey has long been vaunted for its natural cough-suppressing abilities. Wedderspoon Organic Manuka Honey Soothing Drops are made with raw manuka honey that is Non-GMO Project Certified, and they come in a number of enticing flavors. These drops are our top honey-based option for helping to bring relief to sore throats, and we especially like that they are made with only certified organic ingredients.

What We Like

  • Organic ingredients
  • Sweet, enticing flavor
  • Great option if you want natural, honey-based relief
  • A number of flavors to choose from

What We Don't Like

  • May be too sweet for some
  • Higher price point

BUY: Wedderspoon Organic Manuka Honey Soothing Drops

Best All-Natural Cough Drop - Zarbee's Naturals 96% Honey Cough Soothers

Zarbee's Naturals 96% Honey Cough Soothers

SPECS

  • Flavor options (rating scale - see below): 3
  • Artificial sweetener(s): No
  • Key ingredient(s): Zinc, vitamin C

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Zarbee's Naturals 96% Honey Cough Soothers is our top pick for a cough drop that harnesses the healing, soothing properties of all-natural ingredients. These drops contain immune-bolstering zinc, vitamin C, and echinacea to help you bounce back from a cold or the flu while relieving the symptoms of throat irritation and hoarseness. We also really love that Zarbee's Naturals 96% Honey Cough Soothers are available in a number of refreshing flavor options, all made without any processed sugar.

What We Like

  • Contains no processed sugars
  • Comes in various flavor options
  • Vitamin C, zinc, and echinacea help boost immune function

What We Don't Like

  • Not recommended if you want something menthol-based
  • Higher price point

BUY: Zarbee's Naturals 96% Honey Cough Soothers

Best Cough Drop with Menthol - Ricola Honey-Herb

Ricola Honey Herb

SPECS

  • Flavor options (rating scale - see below): 1
  • Artificial sweetener(s): No
  • Key ingredient(s): Menthol, natural honey

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Sometimes a soothing blast of menthol is all you want when you've got an irritated throat or a persistent cough. Enter Ricola Honey-Herb cough drops, our pick for best menthol-based relief. These drops deliver fast and satisfying throat and cough relief by combining menthol with Ricola's tried and true herbal blend. While these drops do not contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, they are made with added sugars. Ricola Honey-Herb cough drops are available at a modest price point, making it possible to stockpile them in preparation for the cold and flu season without breaking the bank.

What We Like

  • Reasonable price point
  • Soothing menthol relief
  • Appealing flavor

What We Don't Like

  • Added sugars
  • No flavor options to choose from

BUY: Ricola Honey Herb

What to Look for When Shopping for Cough Drops

As you shop for the best cough drops, there are several factors to consider.

Active Ingredients

Most medicated cough drops include menthol as their active ingredient, which is derived from eucalyptus and peppermint oils as well as other sources. However, for athletes who prefer more natural remedies, cough drops made with honey are probably the most effective alternative.

Sweeteners

Often cough drops are sweetened with processed sugar or artificial sweeteners to improve their overall flavor. Again, those athletes who prefer more natural products should look for cough drops specifically marked as being free from processed sugars or artificial sweeteners.

Independent Testing

For peace of mind that a cough drop will work the way it's supposed to and won't cause any unintended side effects, look for products that have been carefully tested by a third-party laboratory.

Flavor

Cough drops come in different flavors, such as berry or citrus, so you should be able to find something to match your personal preference. However, flavors can be artificial or naturally derived, so it's important to read the packaging if this is something that matters to you.

Flavor Options (rating scale of 1-3)

When it comes to cough drops, options are important. Having several flavors to choose from can make it easier to take your cough drops regularly.

N/A = Unflavored
1 = 1–2 flavor options
2 = 3–4 flavor options
3 = 5 or more flavor options

FAQs About Cough Drops


What ingredients are in cough drops?

Ingredients can vary by product, but the most common medication in cough drops is menthol, a compound made from peppermint, eucalyptus, and other mint oils. Among non-menthol cough drops, the most common active ingredients are zinc gluconate glycine and pectin.

Can cough drops help you stop coughing?

While cough drops can't cure the illness that's causing your sore throat and/or cough, they can bring about temporary relief of certain symptoms by numbing the throat and/or increasing saliva production, which works to temporarily suppress your coughing. Cough drops are meant to alleviate throat pain but are not necessarily a substitute for other cold and flu remedies.

When is a cough serious enough to see a doctor?

See a doctor if you have a cough that lasts for multiple weeks, if you start coughing up a lot of phlegm, or if your cough is accompanied by fever or shortness of breath.

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