Home Remedies: DIY Cough Syrup recipe

Well, it's that time of year again. The students are back at school and the teachers are coming home with colds and giving them to their wives.

"But Mrs. Scrimp," you may say, "you told me that you take elderberry extract religiously and almost never get sick!"

Oh yes. You're right. I said that. It's even true. Except, I hadn't started taking it yet because I'm a dummy and don't always follow my own good advice. Do as I say, blog readers, not as I do, or you too may end up like me--sick and sad.

But, if you are sick, there are lots of things you can do to make yourself feel better! Consider buying some Yogi Cold Season tea, or Gypsy Cold Care from Traditional Medicinals. Or, you can make cough syrup at home.  And I can tell you how.

For most of this, I used either cooking spices or the contents of herbal tea bags. Coltsfoot and elderberry are the only two ingredients I had in my pantry that you might not be able to find at the grocery store. It will be slightly less efficacious without them, but still helpful.

Homemade cough syrup:
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 heaping Tbsp thyme
  • 1 Tbsp elderberries
  • 1 Tbsp chamomile
  • 1 Tbsp peppermint
  • 1/2 tbsp coltsfoot
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp echinacea
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1/4 tsp clove
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp sweet red wine
  • 1 hot pepper
Boil water and honey in a medium-sized pot. Add all herbs, including garlic and pepper. Boil for 1-2 hours, or until reduced by half. Add wine and boil for 5-10 more minutes.

It will look gross.
Secure cheesecloth over a clean canning jar. If you have a canning funnel, now is the time to break it out as well, over the cheesecloth. The cloth will help hold it snug against the jar while you pour.

Gradually strain the syrup through the cheesecloth, being careful not to let it overflow. 

If you're using pasteurized vinegar, go ahead and add it now. If using raw vinegar (recommended for colds because of its probiotic content), wait until the syrup is totally cool before adding it. Mix well. 

My recipe made about a quart of syrup, which should last for 2-3 months in the fridge. 

Take 1 Tbsp as needed for coughs and colds. I find that one tablespoon clears up my symptoms for 1-2 hours before I need to take more. 

Important notes: For children under 2 years old, cook with maple syrup instead of honey. If you have liver disease, omit the coltsfoot. If you are pregnant or nursing, always check with your doctor or midwife before using herbs.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I need to re-state what I just posted -- I said "You are one of my very favorite people in life and in blogging -- this just reaffirmed it" but I also had a question -- I have a friend who is allergic to garlic (crazy, but true). Can you recommend a substitute for garlic in this recipe?

  3. If she's allergic to garlic, my best recommendation would be to make it with half the amount of honey, and when it's cool add the other half of the honey and the vinegar (plus an extra tablespoon of vinegar), being sure to use raw honey and vinegar. Raw honey is antibiotic, which is also what the garlic does. Raw vinegar is probiotic, which will encourage her body to increase its own immune resistance.

    Also, you are one of my very favorite people as well. :)

  4. You might be surprised that I don't have most of these ingredients. But I would really like to have the cough syrup. ...Would you consider selling it to friends and family? Please?
    Mom-in-Law Scrimp

  5. MIL Scrimp: I would have thought you'd have everything but the elderberry, coltsfoot, chamomile, and echinacea. But I can bring some cough syrup over for you for free. We won't use all that we've got before we get better. :)

  6. You should never boil honey.

  7. Coming home with colds – true, and sometimes with cough too! How great is it that you cook your own medicine instead of buying one. I envy you for having all those jars, containers and bottles of herbal meds at home. Do you sell them too? Ora @ DABrico.com

  8. I want some! Can you sell some to me?



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