Turmeric. Turmeric contains a compound known as curcumin that has many health promoting benefits. Curcumin contains anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral compounds. This makes turmeric helpful for fighting off infections and breaking up congestion that can cause a dry cough. Try mixing turmeric in hot water or adding one to two teaspoons of curcumin powder to warm milk to soothe a cough. This can be done two times a day.