Homemade Cough and Cold Remedies

By Debi Hopkins


With cold and flu season just around the corner, I found a recent news report from a July 6th 2004 news article very interesting.  I wasn't surprised though, because we have found the same thing to be true in our own family.


Reuters news reported the findings of a new study  that showed that the two main ingredients commonly used in over the counter cough syrup formulas are no better at quieting or suppressing night-time coughing in children than sugar water.


The two main ingredients are dextromethorphan (often listed on labels as "DM" and diphenhydramine, which is an antihistamine.  DM is the most common nonprescription cough suppressant on the U.S. market, and it is also the most commonly abused over the counter medicine used by adolescents who try to get high off of cough medicine.


So, what's a parent to do?  For things like the flu bug and cold virus', my family has found that there are many useful herbs that do make a difference in helping to open up bronchial airways, and relieve tight chest type breathing problems.  I urge all parents to research the benefits of herbs for themselves, and become well educated in how to use them.


What inspired me to try making my own recipe was a bottle of  Rawleigh brand "Old Fashioned Cough Syrup" I purchased at a garage sale years ago----it worked so good, but I could not find it to purchase again any where.  And the ingredients are hard to come by these days too, the recipe used herbs common to the 1800's era.


So, since I couldn't find those ingredients, I did some research, and these are the herbs I found through research that would be good to use because of their expectorant properties, and soothing to the bronchial system.  I have found them to be almost as good as the Rawleigh brand of cough medicine formula, they are:


Wild Cherry bark, Mullein leaf, Slippery Elm powder, Coltsfoot leaf, Lobelia leaf, Pleurisy root, Elecampane root, and  Licorice root .


Coltsfoot and Horehound are expectorant herbs that should be used with a light hand - not too much, or it may make you cough too much because of their strong expectorant properties.


Licorice, a sweet herb, is soothing and makes a good edition to a cough syrup remedy, but should also be used sparingly, as too much can have the same effect as Epicac syrup.


My family cough recipe looks like this:





1oz. of wild cherry bark

1oz. of mullein (leaf)

1oz. of slippery elm (powder)

1/2 oz. of coltsfoot (leaf)

1/2 oz. of lobelia (leaf)

1/2 oz. pleurisy (root)

1/2 oz. elecampane (root)

1/2 oz. Licorice (root)


Here are some directions on how to make a syrup:


STEP 1/ --Combine the herbs and add to 1 quart water. Simmer liquid over a low heat, condensing the liquid down to a very thick concentrated tea (about 1 pint).


STEP 2/ --Strain herbs. Place liquid back into the pot. Compost the herbs.


STEP 3/ --To the liquid herb concentrate add either 1 cup of honey, (for children over 2 years of age) or 1 cup of white grape juice concentrate and warm the liquid/tea mixture together, stirring well for about 20 minutes over low heat.


STEP 4/ --Cool to lukewarm. Add Brandy (or vodka or whiskey) to flavour and preserve. Brandy relaxes and sooth the throat muscles and calms spastic coughing.  If you are uncomfortable about having your family ingest alchohol, add the chough medicine to hot tea, and the heat of the tea will burn off most of the alcohol.


STEP 5/ --Completely cool and then pour cough mixture recipe into clean bottles. Syrups stored in the refrigerator should last for 4-6 months. If refrigeration isn't available, increase sweetener content to 2 cups.


 This next recipe works well for the tight chest complaints that sometimes are part of a bronchial infection:



1 Tbs. each licorice root, mullein leaves, thyme leaves, rose hips, slippery elm bark,  lemongrass leaves, and 2 Tbs. of Wild Cherry bark.


1 quart water


1/4 to 1/2 cup rice syrup or fruit syrup (or honey, for children who are at least 2 years of age)  Bring herbs and water to a boil in a large uncovered saucepan. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 30 minutes.  Strain out herbs.  Return to heat and simmer, then turn off heat. While still warm, stir in syrup or honey. Let cool.  Give a suffering child 1 Tbs., as needed. Store in refrigerator.


I pray your family is blessed with good health, and that you won't need these recipes, but they are good to have on hand just in case!


In Him,

Debi <><



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