When my Dad graduated from medical school 60 years ago this summer, the go to cough expectorant that was prescribed by physicians at the time was super saturated potassium iodide (SSKI).
SSKI was an inexpensive and highly effective tool for deep rooted congestion that was beyond the reach of the cilia, the tiny hairlike projections that line the upper half of the lower respiratory tract, gently sweeping debris and mucous out of the lungs.
Old time pharmacists regularly filled prescriptions for SSKI although today, most pharmacists less than about 60 years old would likely scratch their heads should such a script be requested.
SSKI works spectacularly well for thinning and clearing mucous deep inside the lungs so that it is more easily coughed up. This function is very beneficial because when mucous is rooted deep inside the lungs, coughing is the only way to get it out.
When I was a child, my Dad would give us 4-5 drops of SSKI in a small glass of water or juice at breakfast time as a cough expectorant if we had any lung congestion. A few minutes later, he would instruct us to take a couple of deep, slow breaths which would immediately trigger a coughing spell to clear out the trapped congestion.
SSKI works very very fast to thin the mucous and act as a natural cough expectorant. As a child, I noticed that it would only take a few minutes and the ease of coughing up any mucous was very noticeable.
4-5 drops per day could be continued for a week or at most two with no ill effect. If a cough was severe, 4-5 drops twice a day could be used for up to a week to clear very thick, infected mucous.
Sometimes, after a few days of using SSKI, I would notice a bit of a metal taste in my mouth and that would be a signal to reduce the dose a bit or taper it off if my cough had resolved sufficiently.
For the past 3 decades since leaving my parent’s home for college, I have always kept a small bottle of SSKI in my medicine cabinet. Even though I didn’t eat very well in college and throughout my 20′s, I credit use of this age old remedy for keeping me med free during any bouts with colds or flu.
Other more expensive cough expectorants on the market which contain the drug Guaifenesin don’t work nearly as well as SSKI in my experience and these medicines are loaded with additives and other undesirable chemicals.
SSKI, on the other hand, is just a simple compound consisting of two elements: potassium and iodine.
Nothing else is added!
Next time you need a cough expectorant, why don’t you try SSKI?
No doubt, when you ask your doctor for a script for this simple remedy, you will get a very quizzical look!
It’s time to bring back into popularity some of these old time remedies that work great, are very inexpensive, and have no nasty additives – wouldn’t you agree?
*Important Note: Lugol’s or potassium Iodide liquid that you can order online or get at the healthfood store IS NOT THE SAME THING as SSKI. You must inquire at a compounding pharmacy or from a physician who can write prescriptions.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist