DIY Herbal Cough Syrup |

DIY Herbal Cough Syrup

beth October 15, 2012
  Image by: Jasmine

What have you been doing to prepare for the cold season? I bet you have been stocking up on medicinal teas, herbs and other natural remedies… What do you have ready in case of a dreaded cough? While most families reach for the over-the-counter cough syrups with sugar, dyes and tons of artificial/man-made ingredients, I choose to make my own herbal cough syrup! That’s right… and you can too!

 What Herbs Are In Homemade Cough Syrup?

  Image by: Jasmine


While there are several herbs that help with colds, coughs and sore throats, these are the ones I tend to choose specifically for itchy, irritate throats accompanied by both dry and wet coughs:

Licorice Root – this flavorful herb is used to help many illnesses including coughing. It helps to soothe the mucous membranes, stimulate immune cells and reduce inflammation in the throat caused by repeated coughing.

Ginger Root – this herb has many phyto-chemicals that help suppress coughs, soothe sore, painful throats and even calm fevers and headaches. Ginger also stimulates blood flow and good circulation which can help call in the white blood cell troops for faster healing.

Marshmallow Root – while this herb isn’t the same as fluffy, white marshmallows… it does contain extracts that are just as soothing {who doesn’t like a big fluffy marshmallow}. The extracts actually contain mucilage which coats the mucous membranes in the throat and consequently reduces dry, hacking coughs. This is also a great herb for children.

Red Clover Tops – these little flowers have been used for centuries to help heal bronchitis, cleanse the body and boost the immune system.

Of course, there are other herbs that you could add, such as: Elderberry, Garlic, Mullein, and Slippery Elm Bark, but sometimes just keeping it simple is best.

 How Do I Make My Own Cough Syrup?

Making your own cough syrup is actually easier than you might think. Once you have the right ingredients, you’ll just need a little time. Here… I’ll show you!

First, you need to gather a few supplies:

  • Vegetable glycerin (or raw honey in a pinch)
  • Dry herbs (Licorice, Marshmallow, Ginger, Red Clover)
  • A glass jar with a secure fitting lid
  • A spoon to mix the liquid and herbs together
  • 2 Medium sized towels
  • A crockpot 3/4 full of water

Okay… now you are ready!

Measure out your dry herbs. I like to have mostly equal parts of each herb {about 1/4 – 1/3 cup each}. Depending on what size batch you plan on making, you can adjust the amount of herbs measured. Put the herbs into your quart sized glass jar(s), leaving enough room for the herbs to expand {about an inch or so from the top}.

  Image by: Jasmine

Next, measure out your base liquid and pour over your herb mix. For cough syrup, I prefer vegetable glycerin over honey. It’s easier to mix and you don’t have to worry about ruining the properties in the honey if it accidentally gets too warm. If you are using a vegetable glycerin base, use a ratio of 60% glycerin to 40% purified water. If you choose to use honey, do not dilute it.

Images by: Jasmine

Stir your herb mix and liquid base well, then screw on your lid tightly. {Pretty easy so far, right?} Once your jar(s) are secure, it’s time to let the herbs infuse into the base. Remember that crockpot I had you gather and put water in? Yep, you’ll need that now… oh, and your towels.

  Image by: Jasmine

Place one of your towels in the bottom of your water fill crockpot. This will insulate and protect the glass jar(s) from breaking or falling over. Next, nestle your jar(s) in the towel you just put in the crockpot.

  Image by: Jasmine

Okay, here’s the part you need to pay attention to… you will need to turn your crockpot on warm and keep it warm for 2-3 days. Now, I realize not everyone’s crockpot has a “warm” setting. Below you will see specific instructions on how to infuse your syrup depending on your crockpot’s settings:

  • For those WITH WARM setting: Fill water up to an inch below the jar lid. Turn on warm. Cover crockpot with lid and medium to large towel to keep temperature regulated. Check water level before bed. Infuse for 3 days.
  • For those WITHOUT WARM setting: Fill water up to an inch below the jar lid. Turn on low. Leave crockpot uncovered and out of reach of children. Check water level before 3-4 times a day to avoid glass breaking from heat. Infuse for 2 days.
 Image by: Jasmine

Once the infusing time frame is complete, carefully remove jar(s) and allow it to cool off a bit. Strain the herbs away from the liquid using cheesecloth or an old, clean t-shirt. Store your homemade cough syrup in either a glass amber bottle or other glass jar. Keep in a cool, dry area such as a cabinet. Also, be sure to properly label your containers with the date made, contents and dosage. This type of syrup generally has a 12-18 month shelf life.

Images by: Jasmine


How Do I Use My Homemade Cough Syrup?

You can use your herbal cough syrup in a similar fashion as you would an over-the-counter cough syrup. At the first sign of a cough, administer an appropriate amount every few hours as needed.

I personally would give my young children about 1/4 teaspoon every 2-4 hours as needed. For older children and adults the dosage could range from 1/2 -1 teaspoon. Do your own research and trust your momma instincts when choosing the best dosage for your family. Remember, herbs are medicine and should be respected as such… there is such a thing as too much of a good thing!

P.S. This syrup is sweet and has a similar taste to honey. Most children will like taking it. With that {and the above} being said, please keep this syrup out of reach of children. Although all the ingredients are safe and natural, consuming large amounts at once can cause severe stomach upset.
 Image by: Jasmine 

What about you? Have you ever made a cough syrup or other cough remedy for your family? We’d love to hear your ideas!

 *Disclaimer: This information has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended for you to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It is offered for educational purposes only. I encourage others to do their own research as I have done and discuss your findings with a qualified medical professional before adding any supplements or making any changes in your diet. Also, if you or a family member has a cough that persists longer than a week, please seek the advice of a medical professional.

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  1. hey,
    i found your article on DIY herbal cough syrup very useful. i would like to ask you how many degrees (approximately) does the “warm” function on the crockpot stand for?

    thank you very much


  2. […] Modern Alternative Health {Here} to see the entire DIY […]


  3. Do you have to warm it up? I don’t have a crock pot, or can I use a regular pot on the stove? Thanks


  4. Good morning. I would like to know if you can use an already made tincture and mix it with the glycerin to make a cough syrup.


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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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