Hidden Pathway to Healing: Herbal Cough Syrup

‘Tis the season…
or at least it will be soon!
Now is the time when I start making my herbal tinctures and syrups that will be needed once the cold, flu, and general malaise season begins.
It takes a good 6-8 weeks for a tincture to be effective, and I like to let mine sit at least 8 weeks.
Here’s a blend I mixed up this year (after reading the ingredients on the back of a Thera-Flu bottle):

Cough Syrup
8 weeks before you want to make the syrup, combine:
2 parts licorice root
2 parts valerian
2 parts echinacea root
1 part marsh mallow root
1/2 part ginger root
in a jar, and cover with brandy.  Let sit tightly covered out of direct sunlight for 6-8 weeks.

When you’re ready to make the syrup, combine:
2 parts fennel seed
2 parts slippery elm bark
2 parts wild cherry bark
1 part cinnamon bark
(for every 2 ounces of herbs, use 1 quart of water)

Over low heat, simmer herbs and water until reduced by half.
Add 1 part honey (or other liquid sweetener, but I find honey to work the best) to 2 parts tea.
Stir until thoroughly mixed.  Let cool, then add strained tincture.
Bottle it up, and shake to combine, and before use.
The combination of alcohol and sugar will “likely” keep it from going bad, but I like to keep it in the fridge, nonetheless.
Use 2 teaspoons every 2 hours.

This is what I would call an “adult” formula.  I make a similar one (that I will likely post in the next few weeks) for children, but in a pinch, this can obviously be used for them as well, just at a greatly reduced dosage.

Because of the amount of alcohol used, it gives a nice “warming” sensation, which my husband likes.  It is amazingly similar to the Thera-Flu Warming Sensation medication, but thankfully without the artificial sweetener, red food dye, and preservatives.

The valerian is included for the pain that often accompanies illness.  If for some reason, you feel jittery or “hyper-active” after using this, please exchange the valerian for St. John’s Wort flowers in the tincture the next time you make it.  Valerian affects some people differently.

Once again:
There are fantastic, licensed herbalists out there – I am not one of them. Please take the advice of your doctor, or health practitioner into account before using ANY of these preparations.


18 thoughts on “Hidden Pathway to Healing: Herbal Cough Syrup

  1. I am going to try this! I have been looking for something that works for colds – we seem to suffer from them SO often! I made my own elderberry syrup last year, and that seemed to work well. (and at least the kids took it without a problem!!!) Thanks for sharing, Meg! I’m so glad someone else does all the “experimenting” so I don’t have to! 😀

    • Katie –
      We make elderberry syrup, too, and it works very well. But occasionally, we end up with something that just won’t kick, which is why I mixed this up. My kids pretty much dislike this formula – the alcohol burns a bit. 😉 I’ll be sharing my children’s formula in the next few weeks. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Pingback: Menu for September 12th – 18th « Cracking an Egg with One Hand

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this! I’ve continued to buy the OTC medicines when our family gets sick and just tried to pretend all that cr@p on the back didn’t really exist… Sad isn’t it? I am going to make this ASAP. Do you have a particular place you prefer to get your herbs?

    • Hi Wanda –
      I am with you on the nasty stuff the big pharm companies try to sneak into us… it’s amazingly sad.

      I order my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. They are the best that I’ve dealt with, and the consistency is fantastic.

  4. Hi Meg, I just facebooked this to the fans of WAPF!

    One of your followers asked me to share your blog and I am happy to do so.

    I would love to add you to my press list, please email me your contact info!


  5. Meg, how much tincture do you mix with the sweetened tea in the final step? I’ve made lots of herbal tinctures and teas but never a syrup! You’ve inspired me. 🙂 Thanks!

    • Hi Pam –
      I usually use 1 part tincture to 4 parts syrup. I’ve used it all as a tea blend as well, if I simply don’t have the time to make the tincture (which happened this last month). It makes a very nice tea, too, which I think is a testament to itself.

  6. Got a kick out of the “sweet surprise” ad on your site today: “High Fructose Corn Syrup is a type of sugar.” I know you don’t have control over the ads, I just found it funny.

    All my colds go into coughs and I am usually caught unprepared. THANK YOU so much for the reminder that I need to start now!

  7. Thanks, Meg. This is the first time I’ve been here. Check out my blog, which I think might look a bit familiar to you, LOL. Same template.

    This is good stuff. I plan to make elderberry syrup for the first time very soon. I am ordering from Mountain Rose Herbs as well. Hopefully shipping is reasonable since I am in Oregon as they are.

    I am also ready to make some Master Tonic. I just need the time, and two hands!


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