Herbal Cough Syrup
You or your child wake up in the morning and you sound a little hoarse and hacky. You’re not sure if it’s just the dry air or if you’re coming down with something. Over-the-counter cough medicines do not work and you’re a natural mama anyway, so what do you do?
Herbs work beautifully for quieting coughs and soothing dry, irritated throats. Herbal syrups are an easy way to replace those ineffective OTC meds and really nourish the body while it heals.
The herbs I chose to use for this syrup are safe for children and adults but should not be used by pregnant or lactating mothers. If you leave out the licorice root (also not safe for those with hypertension or on blood pressure medication) it will be fine to take while breastfeeding but I still would avoid while pregnant. Here is a list of contraindicated herbs.
Mullein is one of my favorite herbs for coughs. It helps clear mucus from the respiratory system and clear lung congestion. It is also an anti-viral herb that may help prevent and lessen duration of cold/flu viruses, etc.
Marshmallow Root is another demulcent herb which means it soothes mucus membranes. It’s really great for dry coughs because it moistens the passageways of the throat. I use it in many of my teas as well.
Licorice Root has been used for hundreds of years and has many well-documented uses. It’s wonderful for infections and inflammation. It is an expectorant which is the main reason for adding it to a cough syrup.
Thyme is also an expectorant herbs and helps to clear bronchial passageways. The flavonoids in thyme make it an effective anti-spasdomic herb, especially good for coughing spells. It’s also antiseptic and wonderful for throat infections.
Angelica Root is warming and stimulating to the lungs and can help ease chest congestion. It is an expectorant and will help the cough be more productive.
Anise Seeds are used to break up congestion. They are great for deep, chesty, bronchial coughs. They are a wonderful expectorant.
Burdock Root reduces inflammation and calms sore throats. It is also mildly anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.
Slippery Elm Bark acts as a mild pain reliever, especially from sore throats which sometimes trigger coughs. It’s a popular remedy for throat and bronchial irritations.
Wild Cherry Bark is a staple in every herbal cough remedy I’ve seen. It really helps calm a cough to the point of allowing restful, cough-free sleep. It’s especially great for dry, hacking coughs that you just can’t seem to shake.
Some other herbs that could be added to this cough syrup are lobelia and coltsfoot. I didn’t have them on-hand so I left them out. Here is where I buy most of my herbs.
I do sell this in my online shop if you prefer to purchase rather than make it yourself.
Here’s to getting rid of that cough!
- ½ ounce angelica root
- ½ ounce dried mullein leaves
- ½ ounce marshmallow root
- ½ ounce licorice root
- ½ ounce thyme
- ½ ounce anise seeds
- ¼ ounce wild cherry bark
- ¼ ounce burdock root
- ¼ ounce slippery elm bark
- 1 quart boiling water
- raw honey or maple syrup (if administering to child under age one, use maple syrup)
- Combine herbs. You won't need all the herbs right now. Put them in a glass jar.
- Take 1 ounce of dried herbs, place in a quart ball jar and fill jar with hot water.
- Let steep for two hours.
- Pour liquid into saucepan and let simmer gently until it reduces to 1 cup.
- Let cool to under 100 degrees Fahrenheit and add ½ cup honey or maple syrup.
- Store in jar in fridge for up to two months.
- Dosage: 1 teaspoon as needed for children 1-3 years old, 1 tablespoon as needed for older children, and 2 tablespoons for adults.
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Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical practitioner. Nothing in my posts should be construed as medical advice nor am I responsible for any misuse of herbs. Please educate yourself when using herbs and research any contraindications or interactions especially if taking prescription medication or if pregnant or breastfeeding. For example, people with autoimmune conditions should check with their preferably natural health provider before using immune system stimulating herbs. Use common sense.
Sarah is a wife, mom of 4, farm owner, and real food blogger at Real Food Outlaws. She is also an Master Herbalist and owns 90210 Organics, an Eco-boutique and Apothecary. She holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition from New York Chiropractic College and is a Clinical/Functional Nutritionist and Advanced Nutrition Response Testing™ Practitioner at Natural Health Improvement Center of South Jersey and Natural Health Improvement Center of Des Moines. You can often find her barefoot in the garden (or kitchen), or rummaging through a refrigerator (not necessarily her own).