The 10 Best Herbs for Homemade Cough Syrup

How to Make Homemade Herbal Cough Syrup

Making cough syrups is a nice way to introduce herbal medicine to your family. It can calm that annoying cough, soothe that sore throat, and offer a bit of love in a tasty way for your little patient. Here are 10 herbs to get you started; all are available at grocery stores, health food shops, and online.

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    How to Turn an Herb into a Cough Syrup

    The simplest way to make natural cough syrup is to boil your herb (or herbs) of choice in water. The resulting liquid is now an herbal tea which can be strained and taken on its own. If you want to make a syrup, however, you'll need to let the strained tea cool just a bit and then add honey to the mixture. The amount of honey you add will vary depending on the amount of tea you have, but the resulting mixture should be thick enough to coat the throat.

    The honey serves two purposes: first, it creates the thick, syrupy texture that coats the throat to minimize coughing. Second, it sweetens the tea which, in some cases, can be somewhat bitter. If you prefer a different flavor, agave or maple syrup can be substituted for honey—but neither have the ideal consistency or medicinal qualities.

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    Andrew Dernie/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    This is one place that thyme really shines. Make your cough syrup with Thymus Vulgaris, leaving the other varieties for the stockpot. Famed for its medicinal qualities, this variety of thyme contains thymol which acts against certain harmful bacteria. It is also known to improve liver function, increase appetite, help with bronchial infections, and help to treat laryngitis. Used on the skin, it can also reduce pain related to bug bites and stings.

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    Mint leaves


    The soothing mentholated flavor that mint adds to a cough syrup can't be beaten. It makes a lovely flavor that even small children enjoy taking. Peppermint is also used to soothe an upset stomach—a nice plus for anyone with the flu. You may also want to use peppermint to cover the less-pleasant flavor or other medicinal herbs.

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    Lemon Meringue Pie

    Not as commonly known as a medicinal herb, hyssop is usually grown as a landscape addition. Hyssop is at the top of the list for useful cough syrup herbs. It has a lovely taste and doesn't need to be covered by other flavors to be administered.

    Hyssop is an herb that is best harvested and used right away, instead of purchased dried. It seems to age quickly once dried, and there is no way of knowing how old some of the supply is that you buy. For best results, buy from a reputable herbal dealer or simply pick your own.

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    Violets are much more than a teeny pop of color in the lawn. They are perfect for a soothing cough syrup. Pick them during the spring, when they are prolific, and enjoy the reward of this one of a kind syrup for the family.

    Use the flowers or the leaves. We recommend using flowers fresh and leaves either fresh or dried for syrups. Both have a mild flavor that blends well with any of other herbs on this list. In fact, the tea is perfect for that post nasal issue that we sometimes get from winter allergies.

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    A classic cough remedy, don't forget this pretty herb in your cough syrup! Horehound's leaves and flower tops are often used as an expectorant, and as a tonic for colds. Horehound extract is also traditionally used to treat intestinal issues.

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    White Pine

    White Pine

    Bird Eye

    Often viewed as just a tree, White Pine is actually an extremely useful plant to get to know. Many times, you see the bark being referred to in remedies and this is true, but for a cough remedy (especially a deep barking cough), we recommend that you use the needles.

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    Horia Varlan

    Yarrow once again delivers. Easy to grow and especially easy to find in the wild, as a cough syrup herb it is a must-have. Yarrow is said to both cool the body (through sweating) and also have a drying effect. Thus, it can help reduce running nose and post-nasal drip while also lowering a fever.

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    Sage is often referred to as the Throat Herb, with good reason. It has a rich history of being used for mouth and throat ailments. Making this strong tasting herb into an herbal syrup is a good way to get it down. Sage has a strong flavor and may be unpleasant-tasting for young children. To beat this taste you can mix it with other herbs of your choosing.

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    Mullein once again makes the list as an important herb to have in your herbal medicine chest. Mullein, also called lungwort, can be boiled to create a tea or respiratory tonic. Add honey to turn the tea into soothing cough syrup. Mullein is often used to reduce inflammation and may be used to help relieve symptoms of asthma or bronchitis. Be sure to consider mullein in your cough syrup mix.

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    Ginger Root


    Ginger is a wonderful addition to your herbal mix. Some may not call it a true herb, but it has such a warmth and soothing quality, that it is a must-have for an herbal syrup. Ginger is an anti-inflammatory so it can help reduce a tickling cough; at the same time, it can soothe an upset stomach.