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Homemade Cough Drops

December 12, 2008

Ricola, originally uploaded by sara.atkins.


Did you know you could make your own cough drops? Who would have thought, it’s a lot like making hard candy. In fact when you have a sore throat you probably eat cough drops like they are candy :).

Medicine is an arena J. and I haven’t really “greened” yet. But a simple google search revealed that the primary ingredients in cough drops (ascorbic acid, citric acid, corn syrup and sucrose) are all derived from corn. I’m trying to cut these type of products out of our kitchen so I don’t really want them in the medicine cabinet either! In most cases the only active ingredient is menthol. While you could use peppermint or spearmint, which contain methol, there are a whole variety of herbal options out there.

  • Ginger-soothing and great tasting.
  • Horehound- horehound had been used for decades for coughs and bronchial upsets. It is a great herb for breaking up congestion. It contains murubiin which stimulates bronchial secretions.
  • Thyme- thyme is another great herb that has antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It is very useful for treating coughs and colds.
  • Mullein- mullein is an herb that will help soothe the bronchial and lungs. It is extremely gentle and effective. It will help ease coughs.
  • Marshmallow- marshmallow is very soothing and will help shrink inflamed bronchial making it easier to breathe.
  • Slippery Elm- like marshmallow this herb is used to help relieve inflammation of the bronchial.
  • Fennel- fennel is soothing to irritated throats and helps relieve coughing fits.

You could make cough drops with one herb or a combination of what you have on hand. If, like me, you don’t have these things on hand you can find them online.

There are various recipes floating around but a couple of them contained corn syrup… You can find instructions for Horehound Coughdrops here and see the process step by step at the Homemaking Homesteader Blog. If perhaps Horehound isn’t your thing you can find another set of directions here that uses brown sugar instead of honey. Personally I would go with honey because it can be locally sourced and I’m all for saving the bees but that’s me.

Has anyone tried this? How did they taste and how well did they work?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 12, 2008 1:06 pm

    You can also substitute sorghum syrup for corn syrup (it’s healthy and natural). I always use it a sub in pecan pie.

  2. knutty knitter permalink
    December 13, 2008 4:58 am

    There are some dreadful looking cough remedies in grandmas cook book circa about 1920. I don’t think I’d dare try some of them but the rest look not too bad. I suppose they would work – specially the one with whiskey in it. 🙂

    viv in nz

  3. December 17, 2008 8:02 am

    What a cool idea! Let us know if you experiment with this. One of the (only) good things about getting sick is hot toddies–the last commenter’s allusion to whiskey made me think of it! Those soothe my throat with the lemon and honey and knock me right out. Nyquil always makes my heart race–boo.

  4. January 5, 2009 11:27 am

    Thanks for sharing these great, herbal health tips. I’ve heard that cloves can help to relieve toothaches, as well.

  5. Janet permalink
    March 8, 2009 8:14 pm

    I make a tea using slippery elm (in bulk from the health food store), ginger root, lemon, and honey. Very hot water, but not boiling. I drink it all day when my throat’s really really sore and it’s almost always better the next day. The texture’s a little funky because the slippery elm can be sort of gelatinous, but hey — if it works …

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