DIY Herbal Cough Syrup |

DIY Herbal Cough Syrup

beth October 15, 2012

Written by Beth and Rustina

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!

Making your own cough syrup is easier than you might think. Once you have the right ingredients, you’ll just need a little time. Here… I’ll show you, but first, let’s discuss which herbs can be used to make it!

What Herbs Can Be Used in Homemade Cough Syrups?

While several herbs 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 phytochemicals 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 (1).

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.

Herbal Cough Syrup

This recipe is customizable. Feel free to omit or replace any herbs. As long as you have 1 cup of herbs (in total), you’re good to go.


  • 2 cups of Local, Raw Honey
  • 1 cup of dried Licorice, Marshmallow, Ginger, and Red Clover (combined)
  • A quart jar with a secure-fitting lid
  • A spoon to mix the liquid and herbs
  • A crockpot that is 3/4 full of water or set up a double boiler (see step 5)


Step 1: Measure out your dry herbs. I like to have mostly equal parts of each herb (about 1/4 – 1/3 cup each). Depending on the size batch you plan to make, 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}.

Step 2: Pour the honey over your herb mix and place the lid on tightly.

Step 3: It’s time to let the herbs infuse into the honey. Remember that crockpot I had you gather and put water in? Yep, you’ll need that now…

Step 4: Place the jar in your crockpot. If using a smaller jar, be sure the water is lower than the jar’s opening. Some prefer to place a towel or a metal trivet beneath the jar. 

Step 5: Okay, here’s the part you need to pay attention to… you must turn your crockpot on warm and keep it warm for 4-8 hours (your preference). If you don’t have a crockpot, place the jar and trivet in a pot of water on the stove’s lowest setting.

Step 6: Once the infusing time frame is complete, carefully remove the jar(let it cool off. Strain the herbs away from the honey using cheesecloth or an old, clean t-shirt or washcloth. 

Storage: Store your homemade cough syrup in a glass amber bottle or another glass jar. Keep in a cool, dry area such as a cabinet. Also, properly label your containers with the date made, contents, and dosage. This type of syrup generally has a 12-18 month shelf life.

How to Use: 

You can use your herbal cough syrup similarly to an over-the-counter cough syrup. At the first sign of a cough, administer an appropriate amount every few hours as needed.

I would give my young children about 1/4 teaspoon every 2-4 hours as needed. The dosage for older children and adults could range from 1/2 to 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!

Note: Remember, honey is not recommended for children under 1 year of age. However, some feel that Babies Can Eat Honey (Sometimes).

If you are not comfortable using honey, you can use vegetable glycerin in its place. It will need to be infused for 3 days in the crockpot (checking regularly for water level and to ensure the jar does not get too hot. 

Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and nothing in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything. If you have questions, please do your own research or seek advice from a health professional.

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

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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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