Herbal Cough Syrup Recipe

With the days growing colder, I like to prepare for the impending cold and flu season by making a batch of herbal cough syrup to have handy when feeling under the weather. Instead of reaching for strong, over-the-counter cough medicines that often suppress a cough and the natural functions of our immune system, this cough syrup helps to support the body in fighting the infection. The combination of herbs helps soothe a sore throat, eases coughing, promotes the immune system, and encourages a restful sleep.

Dried herbs are preferred for this recipe, and can usually be readily found at an herbalist or online. Wild cherry bark helps manage coughs; mullein is soothing and expectorant; valerian increases relaxation; echinacea and ginger boost immune strength; licorice calms throat irritation.

Note: For children under 1 year of age, use glycerin or maple syrup instead of honey.


1 part wild cherry bark

1 part mullein leaf

1 part valerian root

1 part echinacea

1 part licorice root

½ part ginger root (fresh or powdered)

honey or glycerin to sweeten


  1. Use 2 ounces of herb mixture to 1 litre of water.
  2. Over low heat, simmer the liquid down to half a litre.
  3. Strain the herbs from the liquid and pour liquid back into pot.
  4. To each half litre, add 1 cup of sweetener (honey or vegetable glycerine).
  5. Warm the honey and liquid together, only enough to mix well. You can simmer for longer to thicken syrup if desired.
  6. When syrup is mixed, you can add a fruit concentrate to give it flavour, or a couple of drops of peppermint or spearmint oil.
  7. You can also add a bit of brandy to help preserve the liquid for a bit longer.
  8. Remove from heat and label. The syrup should be refrigerated, and is best stored in a dark, glass bottle to avoid losing potency.Dosage:  1 teaspoon to children under 12;  1 tablespoon to adults as needed for symptoms.