Thursday, November 10, 2011

Building Your Medicine Chest: DIY Herbal Cold and Cough Syrup

Ever since I began making this delicious cold and cough syrup last year, it has become a staple in my medicine chest. I usually prepare the first batch of the season around this time in anticipation of the days ahead.

When making the switch to homemade remedies, forethought is key! There are very few "quick fixes" when it comes to DIY herbal medicine, and trust me, it's a journey! Think baby steps...

Let us first discuss the making of simple herbal syrups. I learned my method for making herbal syrups from Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. It is a simple, easy to follow method producing excellent results every time!

How To Make Herbal Syrups
  1. Combine approximately 2 ounces of herbs and 1 quart of water. Begin simmering the mixture over low heat and reduce liquid down to 1 pint.
  2. Strain herbs from the liquid by running through a fine mesh sieve, cheesecloth or coffee filter. Pour concentrated liquid back into the simmer pot. Note: Be sure to compost the discarded herbs.
  3. Add 1 cup of honey (or maple syrup, vegetable glycerin, or other sweetener you have on hand) per pint of liquid.
  4. Warm honey and liquid, on very low heat, just enough to blend together. Note: Cooking honey any longer, or on a high heat, will destroy the healing properties of the honey.
  5. Bottle, label, and refrigerate syrup.
Herbal Cold and Cough Syrup

Gather the Ingredients:

-1/4 cup dried echinacea root
-1/4 cup dried licorice root
-1/8-1/4 cup freshly grated ginger root (to taste)


Grate Ginger.

Add dried herbs, ginger, and 1 quart of water to pot. Simmer on low heat until liquid is reduced to 1 pint.

Strain herbs.

Add 1 cup of honey to liquid. Over low heat, warm just enough to mix well.

Bottle, label, and refrigerate.


The syrup can be used as often as needed, up to every hour, until symptoms are relieved.

For Children: 1 teaspoon
For persons 10 years and older: 1 tablespoon


Syrup will keep in refrigerator for approximately 3 months.


-I like to add an ounce of brandy to the syrup in order to help preserve the syrup. Adding the brandy also allows the syrup to act as a cough suppressant. Preserving with brandy will increase expiration to approximately 6 months.  

-Feel free to experiment with the herbs. For example, consider adding Valerian for restlessness.

-Don't have licorice root on hand? Make the syrup simply with echinacea and ginger. However, increase amount of dried echinacea root to 1/2 cup.

-Add 1/2 cup chopped onion to the herbs and ginger for a increase in medicinal properties.

Budget Breakdown

I was always afraid that making herbal remedies would end up costing me a fortune. I quickly learned that I was wrong! In fact, homemade remedies have saved our family hundreds of dollars a year! For example, here's the breakdown for this recipe:
  • Fresh ginger root = $0.98
  • Echinacea Root = $2.00
  • Licorice Root = $0.75
  • Honey = $0. 50 (varies on your availability and location)

I ordered all of the dried herbs used in this recipe from Mountain Rose Herbs. I trust their quality and appreciate their customer service!
DISCLAIMER: The statements made here have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure or prevent any disease. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Cultivating Herbal Friendships


At November 11, 2011 at 3:56 AM , Blogger MommaHen said...

Pediatricians are starting to "prescribe" honey and warm drinks for cough . I would like to try this. My son is soooo picky . I can't get him to drink warm tea and honey. Wonder how this will go over?

At November 11, 2011 at 7:38 AM , Anonymous Jen said...

You have inspired me to start researching herbs more. I am so intimidated by them. A lot of what we do in our house is rely on my hubby's Filipino remedies, which have benefit too. But, he doesn't always know why things work . . . (isn't that typical of traditional cultures though -- it JUST works!) :)

At November 11, 2011 at 11:18 AM , Anonymous Deb said...

How long does this keep in the fridge?

At November 11, 2011 at 11:32 AM , Anonymous Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable said...

@Deb Great question! Approximately 3 months and up to six months if you preserve with the brandy.

At November 11, 2011 at 3:01 PM , Anonymous Vina8 said...

Great post! I am going to try this. We grow our own ginger, so I have a bunch of that already. I may add some lemon balm and horehound that I grow. I also love Mountain Rose Herbs and have bought a lot from them.

At November 11, 2011 at 3:58 PM , Blogger Christina (I'm a Mom...What's Your Excuse?) said...

This is great! I'm going to start making my own!!
Thanks for sharing :)

At November 11, 2011 at 11:11 PM , Blogger Melodee said...

pinning this recipe! thank you:)

At November 12, 2011 at 8:41 AM , Blogger Buttons said...

I am going to try this thank you I have always just used honey and lemon. I tried Buckleys once wow I was really out of it I would rather ignore that stuff now. Thanks again. B

At November 12, 2011 at 6:11 PM , Blogger LeAnn ~ My Day In The Making said...

I wish I came across this blog last week! I am going to try this. Thanks!!!

At November 12, 2011 at 8:02 PM , OpenID thevegchef said...

Anytime I am sick I take some zinc and vitamin C, when my first symptoms appear and then I drink lots of licorice root tea, echinacea tea, rose hips and hibiscus tea with raw honey and ginger, organic vegetable broth, and eat raw honey by the spoonfuls. I had swine flue two years ago, all I did is drink herbal tea, sleep and take hot baths until I felt better. Honey is scientifically proven to work better than cough medicine and even cough suppressants. Not only does it soothe sore throats, but it also kills the virus that is making you sick.

At November 15, 2011 at 7:46 AM , Blogger Nikki@EverythingUndertheMoon said...

I am going to pin this! This is definitely something I want to give a try. New follower here. Would love it you would stop by and share this at my linky party :)

Also, PRETTY PLEASE check out Random Acts of Kindness Week going on right now!! Would love to see you be a part of it!

At November 15, 2011 at 10:27 AM , Blogger Aiming4Simple said...

I've been buying elderberry syrup. I'd like to try this too.

At November 15, 2011 at 6:40 PM , Blogger Creations by Dina said...

This looks great. I make a lot of my own lotions and things. I plan on trying this. Do you still use the syrup for kids when you add the brandy to it?

At November 16, 2011 at 2:56 PM , Anonymous Crystal & Co said...

Wow. What a great resource. Thanks so much for linking up on my meme.

I shared a link over on Facebook as well.

At November 16, 2011 at 4:04 PM , Blogger Kathy Felsted Usher said...

Thanks- This will be something I can experiment with this winter- and thanks for the tip to add brandy- does this mean I should drink it out of a snifter? (LOL).

At November 17, 2011 at 7:22 AM , OpenID said...

You are an awesome resource.
Last time I was here i was bookmarking your advice.... And i will be doing it again.

At November 18, 2011 at 1:05 PM , Blogger Good Girl Gone Green said...

Thank you so much! This looks easy enough to make.

At November 18, 2011 at 5:59 PM , Anonymous Stacy Makes Cents said...

Thank you so much for this post! I'm at the point in our journey where I feel like I am ready to start this type of thing - and your steps make it seem very manageable.....and I think I could do it without burning my house down. ;-)

At November 20, 2011 at 5:33 AM , Anonymous Jill said...

This great post is featured at Sunday Snippets this week! Thanks for sharing! Come and check it out!

At November 20, 2011 at 1:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. The more people are exposed to herbal medicines the less they will reach for the dangerous over-the-counter and RX options that have more side effects than benefits.

People are slowing waking up to ways to find true health thanks to people like you.
Just a note: be sure to get real unpasteurised honey. Store brand honey is not even made from honey. Google it!

At November 22, 2011 at 6:07 AM , Blogger PERMANENT POSIES said...

Saw this on New Nostalgia. What a great idea. I have a dry allergy type cough all the time. All I have to do is suck on a cough drop but I can't do that while I am going to bed. Maybe this is what I need. I would love you to share it at Tuesday's Tasty Tidbits...

At November 26, 2011 at 6:43 AM , Blogger Its So Very Cheri said...

I need to search your blog more--great ideas.

cheri from Its So Very Cheri--come for a visit.

At November 27, 2011 at 1:22 PM , Anonymous Stacy Makes Cents said...

Quick question for ya - did you get the Purpurea or the Angustifolia Echinacea root?
And I'm having issues finding the dried Licorice root on Mtn Rose Herbs. I'm new to this and want to make sure I buy the right thing. :-)
Thanks for all your help!!

At November 28, 2011 at 4:30 AM , Anonymous Susanne said...

Looks like a great concoction to have on hand! Is there an advantage to using the fresh ginger root vs. the dried?

At December 27, 2011 at 11:45 AM , Anonymous Carolyn said...

I am *obsessed* with your blog. Stop it - I need to feed my family.

No, I lied. Don't stop it, they can do without.

Question: I'm wanting to start making these recipes, but am unsure of what size of herb packages I should buy? What are the shelf lives of these root herbs (and also of Horehound)?


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