Herbal Apothecary: Soothing Cough Syrup

For the last ten days, we've been in the land of influenza. Well, one of us has, anyway:

There's just not much to be done about the flu except to stay in bed (with or without a cat to keep you company). Trouble is, this flu came with a really terrible cough, which would keep the patient awake, making all that rest a lot harder to get.

Of course we have regular cough medicine, and our children prefer its sugary "grape" flavor to my homemade cough syrup.

The adults, on the other hand, are psyched about our new, all-natural cough syrup. It's based on a recipe I found here, but I also added turmeric. (Turmeric milk is a traditional cold remedy in India, so the turmeric here gives this cough syrup an extra little boost.) The acidic vinegar cuts through phlegm, and the honey coats and soothes an irritated throat. The cayenne has lots of capsaicin, which blocks pain receptors and stops the tickle, and the ginger and turmeric are antiseptics with useful medicinal properties for cold symptoms. 

This remedy works best if you have a very stubborn tickle that keeps triggering an (unproductive) cough. The syrup interrupts the tickle while soothing your throat, and lots of times that interruption is enough to break a bad cycle and let you get control of your throat for a while. (For the flu, this probably isn't strong enough, but for a garden-variety cold, it's great.)

Obviously, I'm not a doctor and you probably shouldn't take my word for anything without clearing it with a professional. All I'm officially saying is that this works for us.

Soothing Cough Syrup

1/4 cup hot water
2 Tbs. raw honey (if you can get it — regular honey is fine too)
2 Tbs. cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. (heaping) ground cayenne
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
scant 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric

In a small Mason jar, stir all ingredients together until well blended. Shake before each use. Take a tablespoon dose to relieve that annoying winter cough and tickling throat irritation. It helps to swallow it in one shot — you want to hit your throat, not your tongue. 

Our child emphatically did not like the way this tastes, but I really do. It's like a sweet and sour barbecue sauce of a medicine. And that's way better than fake grape flavor any day.


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