DIY herbal cough syrup
Photo by bgblogging via Flickr
This herbal cough syrup is a good alternative for those who have trouble swallowing capsules or pills.

One of the first symptoms of a cold is an itchy sore throat. As the cold progresses, excessive coughing can irritate the throat even more.

As a child I remember being sick and having to suffer through daily doses of horrible tasting cough syrups. Despite the label saying that they were cherry or grape flavored, there was no way of masking the syrup’s harsh medicinal taste.

This cold season, treat your sore throat with a cough syrup that you enjoy drinking rather than dread.

Rodale News has created an all herbal cough syrup that coats your throat, reduces irritation, and calms a persistent cough.


  • 3 to 4 teaspoons fresh or 1½ teaspoons dried echinacea leaf, flower, and/or root
  • 1½ to 2 teaspoons fresh or ¾ teaspoon dried licorice root
  • 2 heaping teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried marshmallow root
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons fresh or 1½ teaspoons dried orange peel
  • 1½ to 2 teaspoons fresh or ¾ teaspoon dried sage leaf
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons fresh or 1½ teaspoons dried thyme
  • 5 cups purified water
  • 1 cup Sweet Syrup Base (1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, dissolve sugar in water by simmering it for 30 to 40 minutes.)


1. If you’re using fresh herbs, mix them in a blender, and if you’re using dried, grind the herbs to a coarse or fine consistency. In a saucepan, simmer the echinacea, licorice, marshmallow root, orange peel, and optional cherry bark in the water, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

2. Turn off the heat. Add the sage, thyme, and optional horehound. Steep the entire mixture for 20 minutes longer, then strain and compost the herbs.

3. Pour the liquid back into the saucepan, return it to a boil, reduce the heat, and gently simmer, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced to about 1 cup. Let it cool until it’s warm and add the sweet syrup base and the optional essential oils.

4. After making your syrup, bottle it, label it, and store it in the refrigerator. If no preservatives are added, the syrup will probably last 2 to 3 weeks. You can add a few drops of an essential oil or vitamin C powder (½ to 1 level teaspoon to 1 cup of syrup) to increase its refrigerated shelf life by 1 to 2 weeks or even longer.

If it’s impractical to store the syrup in the refrigerator, add the vitamin C powder and grain alcohol so that the finished product is 25 percent alcohol and 75 percent syrup. These additions are particularly helpful for keeping syrup viable and safe for consumption when you’re traveling. Take 1 teaspoon two to three times daily or as needed.

Find other great herbal remedies and recipes by visiting

Related Stories: Relieve Pain with Herbs and Spices

Up Next

8 Backup Bivys For Instant Shelter Solutions

Instant shelter solutions for when Mother Nature turns on you in the backwoods!