Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
We don’t get sick often, and when we do, I prefer to let the body fight the illness naturally whenever possible. That being said, illnesses that include coughing (like bronchitis or a particularly bad flu season) can be exhausting and uncomfortable because they limit the ability to sleep well.
In those cases, I use this homemade cough syrup to soothe the urge to cough and help the afflicted get some much-needed rest.
Ingredients for a Natural Cough Remedy
This easy home remedy is full of healthy ingredients that naturally soothe a sore throat and boost the immune system.
Here are the essential ingredients of this cough medicine, and the healing properties of each:
- Raw honey can help stop the coughing (as long as the children taking it are over a year old). In fact, a spoonful by itself could do the trick!
- Lemon juice provides a necessary dose of vitamin C.
- Fresh ginger is naturally anti-inflammatory and has an expectorant action, but ground ginger works just as well.
- Chamomile soothes muscles, making it useful in relieving the “tickle” in the throat, plus it promotes restful sleep.
- Marshmallow root has one of the highest mucilaginous contents of all herbs and coats and soothes the throat.
- Cinnamon helps boost the immune system and improve taste.
You can find most of these ingredients in your local health store, grocery store, or on Amazon. I’ve provided links in the recipe below to the sources I use.
I’ve gotten a lot of great questions about my homemade cough syrup recipe! Here’s a few common ones:
- Where can I find chamomile flowers? You can find whole flowers at a local herb store, Asian market, or online. You can also use pure chamomile tea bags if that’s easier. Or you can grow your own! If you want to use chamomile oil, add it after the concoction has cooled.
- What if I don’t have marshmallow root? You can use fenugreek seeds instead, or just skip it.
- Can I freeze small portions in an ice tray to extend shelf life? Sure, why not!
- How long will this last? For two months in the fridge.
- Can I add healthy additions to make this cough suppressant even more powerful? Yes! A bit of horehound, slippery elm, cherry bark extract, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, or cayenne pepper would all make great add-ons.
- What about young children? I stick to nursing and warm Epsom salt baths for babies. Check with your doctor about using raw honey on children under 2. You can also replace the honey with maple syrup for very young kids if you’re concerned about the honey.
- Can I add essential oils? I’d be careful, as most essential oils should not be taken internally.
- How should I store this homemade cough remedy? In the fridge in an airtight container. A glass jar would be a great choice.
- Is this cough syrup good for a dry cough? While this one can help, this wild cherry bark cough syrup is particularly good with dry, hot, irritated coughs. Traditionally it’s been used for whooping cough, chronic coughs, pneumonia, and bronchitis.
Homemade Herbal Cough Syrup Recipe
This easy combination of herbs helps soothe the throat to ease coughing and promote restful sleep. I only use this remedy on children who are older due to the raw honey. Check with your doctor before using with kids under two years old. If you want to be extra careful, you can also substitute maple syrup in its place.
Honey Cough Syrup Recipe
- 4 cups water
- ¼ cup ginger (fresh grated or dried)
- ¼ cup chamomile flowers
- ¼ cup marshmallow root
- 1 TBSP cinnamon
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 cup honey
- In a medium size saucepan, combine the water and dried herbs.
- Bring it to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer until the volume is reduced by about half (you will need 1 cup of liquid after herbs are strained off).
- Pour the herb infused water through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove herbs (compost the herbs!).
- While the liquid is still warm, whisk in the lemon juice and honey.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 months.
Note: My personal experience cannot replace medical advice. Please check with your doctor if concerned about symptoms.
Have you ever made cough syrup? What herbs did you add? What natural remedies do you use to ease coughing? Share below!
Discussion (164 Comments)
I add a good splash of brandy to mine as it is a cough suppressant and a good preservative too. Mine lasts quite well And I use licorice root and red clover tops, might try some marshmallow root next time!
How much brandy and is it safe for kids? Seems like it would help them fall asleep too!
I really don’t do exact measurements, but it’s probably about 1/8c to 1/4c of brandy per 2cups of cough syrup. I have given it to my 5yr old (since she was about 3yrs old) and so far she hasn’t become a raging alcoholic! As a European I’m probably a bit more relaxed about things like that though!
Jennifer Coates Drayer
Mom used to give me honey water and whiskey when I had bronchitis as a child. usually around a thimble full is what she said she would use… so Tsp? maybe 1-1/2 tsp tops.
I have been sick with a cold for a few days now: stuffy, tickle in my throat, and then I started to cough. I saw this recipe and decided to give it a shot. However, I did add slippery elm bark to it (as I have heard of it’s great healing powers for colds) so my syrup turned out a little like jelly in the end – but I have to tell you – I drank about a half of a cup before I went to bed, and today I feel much better!
Where can you get chamomile flowers? And, can you use a chamomile tea bag instead?
I got whole chamomile flowers at my local herb store. They sell whole chamomile flowers that have not been processed. You probably have a natural health store in your area. Call them and see if they have it, if not, ask them where you can find it. If all else fails – you can always buy some online.
You can definitely use a chamomile tea bag. You can grow the flowers or order from a place like Mountain Rose Herbs…
make sure its pure chamomile if using a tea bag as many teas in a bag are a mix of chamomile and others often green or black tea, but not always pure chamomile.
Do you think that freezing small portions (like in an ice tray) would work to extend its shelf life? I’d hate to make it and then not use it all.
It should freeze no problem…
What about adding horehound to the herb mixture?
You definitely can!
Jeannie Marie Thomas
What kind of shelf-life does this have? Or is it a “use it right now” kind of recipe?
It will last at least 2 months in the fridge due to the high sugar content of the honey…
I wonder…would it last longer if you made the base, omitting the honey, then just stir in a little honey at the time you take it?
It is the sugar in the honey that helps it keep longer. That is how jams in canning stay preserved for so long. (The sugar amount)
Oohhhhh. I thought Katie was saying *only* 2 months because of the sugar. Thanks for clarifying!!
Actually…honey doesn’t go bad, and acts as a preservative itself. The honey is also anti-bacterial. We use a garlic honey syrup that we just store on the shelf that is about two years old…works great! This sounds like a great syrup we’ll add to our arsenal!
I would think adding a little 80 proof brandy would help extend shelf life.
Can I use marshmallow root extract? Also, can I give this to a 5 month old?
I wouldn’t give it to a 5 month old because of the honey, but small amounts of the other ingredients should be fine…
My little one is just 6 months, and he seems to have a scratchy voice and a little sniffle. Do you recommend any natural remedy, or is just breast milk best at this age? I was wondering if a little oregano oil on his feet, mixed in some coconut oil, might be helpful?
I just stick to nursing and warm epsom salt baths at that age unless it gets really rough…
you can use a couple drops of Eucalyptus oil in Olive oil on the bottoms of feet, put socks on baby after and it helps a lot. I use on my kids and clients
Put shower on straight hot until bathroom is all steamy then put a few drops of eucalyptus, peppermint or camphor in the tub with the plug in. Take baby into bathroom to nurse. Nursing can be tough with a stuffed up nose and the milk actually produces more flem so try to steam him a few times a day to break that up.
I always heard peppermint isn’t good to use while you are nursing and eucalyptus is iffy around infants
Processed, pastuerized dairy products *can* increase phlegm in SOME people. Human breast milk does not. If dairy-related mucous is a problem in your family, nursing mom would do well to cut processed dairy out of her own diet
I know this is old, but for anyone who is looking for something else, Wellness Mama has a homemade vapor rub recipe on this site that I use. I put in on my kids’ feet when they are sick. They usually get over it pretty quickly.
I used to squirt breast milk in their nose when it was stuffy, seemed to help! Sore ear? Breast milk in it. Yucky eye? Breast milk! Rash? Breast milk! Good for everything!
Yep Katie’s right. Use breastmilk for everything. Even squirting it up the nose on the other kids and me.
I need this for my kids right now as they have had a persistent cough for going on 3 weeks now! I don’t have marshmellow root or chamomile flowers (am trying to grow it with not much success) – but I do have chamomile oil…. can I substitute the oil and how much would I use please? and can I by pass the marshmellow root as I have found it difficult to source in New Zealand. Cheers.
Yep… even with the ginger and cinnamon it will still be pretty effective, and you can sub chamomile oil just add once it has cooled…
Is is not recommended that essential oils of any kind be used internally especially by children.
As long as they are from a reputable source, you can take SOME* internally. I use doTERRA and take them internally all the time with great success – but I know which ones are safe and which ones are not and have a great understanding about what certain oils do and how they work in your body, etc. I would never recommend taking just any brand internally though.
Certified aromatherapists actually do not recommend taking essential oils internally – both DoTerra and YL have trained in methods that are unsafe.
*Some* aromatherapists do as Deanna keir states. Others, as well as myself, are comfortable making client specific and oil specific recommendations
Another wonderful remedy is to slowly cook a sliced onion in a pan of honey until the onion is translucent and very soft never allowing the honey to get hot, only warm. Strain out the onions. Take by spoonful as needed for sore throat, cough and cold symptoms ok ms. This is anti viral and antibacterial. I think its yummy…kids had mixed reviews.
Marshmallow root in dried form can often be found in health food shops around NZ, or you may be able to order it directly from companies that distribute dried herbs such as Clairidge’s out of Christchurch or Phytomed in Auckland. I would be really cautious about using Chamomile oil internally (I’m assuming you mean essential oil?) unless you have an aromatherapist that you trust…
Do you use the camomile and marshmallow root in powder form?
I used them in the whole form, and then strained the mixture through a sieve after it was done cooking.
Either powdered or just flowers for the chamomile and chopped for the marshmallow… either works as long as it is strained well…
If I use the powdered form of marshmallow root, should I use less or still the 1/4 cup?
Can the remaining tea be consumed? I have about 1 cup left, I am currently nursing a 6 month old, thank you
I use a turnip and some brown sugar. There are 2 ways I’ve learned. 1….select a large firm turnip or rutabaga, clean it, cut the bottom so it will stand well, cut the top off (save it to use as a cover), scoop out a apx 2″x2″ hole, pack this with brown sugar, cover with the top, place in a bowl, refrigerate overnight, there’s about 1 serving made.
or the one I use now…. again choose large firm heaviest turnip or rutabaga, peel it with a carrot peeler (so easy), chop it into french fry like strips, place on a plate, use 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and stir into the turnip strips, cover with plastic wrap, set on the counter for an hour (so fast), the sugar pulls all the nutrition out of the turnip and makes syrup. It is the best cough syrup I’ve ever experienced.
The first recipe was an old German one, the 2nd I go from the internet about 5 years ago. They produce the same product, the 2nd just faster!
Northern Europeans have historically used this recipe to keep the bronchials and lungs healthy! Who knew??
you tube video about turnip cough syrup