How to Make Homemade Herbal Cough Syrup


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by the author of Prepper’s Pantry and Three Miles

I’ve been making my own cough syrup for years to support my family with anything from a little tickle to a full-on cough. The recipe has changed a bit over the years, especially once I began traveling internationally. I’ve taken a little bit from my Southern mountain upbringing, the Balkan Peninsula in Europe, and Mexico and combined it into a very useful mixture.

(Please excuse the awkward wording in this article – the FDA has extremely strict rules about how one can write about remedies that have been around for centuries.)

This being said, I’m not a doctor, and this isn’t medical advice.

I’d been making honey-lemon cough syrup for years. You can find that recipe here. It’s pretty effective and soothing.

Then I got sick when I was living in Europe. I went to the pharmacy determined to purchase a familiar-looking bottle of purple cough syrup for the deep, bronchial cough I’d developed right before arriving in Montenegro. The pharmacist persuaded me to give their thyme cough syrup a try first. I was stunned at how well it worked. As someone who has suffered from chronic bronchitis and asthma for years, I have tried all different types of cough medicine, and this was incredibly effective.

I added and took away from my former recipe, played around with other ingredients, and came up with the one we use now, which I’ll write about today. The thing I like about this new-and-improved adaptation is that you can easily grow all the ingredients and make it as long as you have alcohol and honey.

If you want to learn to make your own herbal medicines, you absolutely MUST take our Herbal Skills Intensive course.

It’s very easy to make this on your own. You may have all the ingredients on hand already, as there’s nothing exotic. You need to start your batch now to have it ready for winter colds and influenza. The mixture sits for six weeks before the final steps.

(Want to learn what to eat when the power goes out? Check out our free QUICKSTART Guide.)

How to start your homemade cough syrup

Here’s what you’ll need for the first steps.

  • Vodka, Everclear, or another clear alcohol
  • Thyme (fresh or dried)
  • Ginger (fresh)

I don’t measure any of this. I just stuff the jar and then fill it with liquid. This is the easiest thing you’ll ever make.

  • First, stuff a large jar full of clean, fresh thyme or half full of highly-scented, strong dried thyme. I used the final harvest from my potted thyme on my patio along with the thyme I’d dried in the dehydrator over the summer.
  • Next, take a hunk of fresh ginger. I like to cut it into junks, then squash it with the side of the knife to release more of the juices. Add this to your jar.
  • Finally, fill the jar up with vodka or your choice of alcohol. I usually go with whatever is cheapest when making medicines, but some folks prefer to use organic alcohol.
  • Put the lid on, place it on the counter, and give it a shake every day for the next six weeks.

I like to mark on my calendar when I begin the batch and when my six weeks are up. Here’s what my concoction looks like:

After a few days, the liquid will take on a brownish tint. Don’t worry – it’s supposed to do that.

How to finish making your homemade cough syrup

Your six weeks have passed. Now, it’s time to finish your batch of cough syrup. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Your thyme/ginger/alcohol concoction
  • Honey (raw is best)
  • More thyme

First, strain your thyme/ginger/alcohol concoction. I line a mesh sieve with a flour sack towel. Place that in a large bowl or cooking pot. Pour the mixture into the sieve and let it drain while you prepare the honey.

  • Using a double boiler, fill the top container with raw honey. Because I’m not big on measuring, I generally eyeball this. I like to use approximately a 3:1 alcohol to honey ratio. This isn’t an exact science. You want to make it sweet enough that your family will take it without complaint, and you also want to get enough honey in there to soothe your throat on the way down.
  • Add fresh or dried thyme to the honey. I just use whatever amount I have on hand. I just started another thyme plant on my patio garden and hope to have it ready to harvest by the time I need it. If I had to go and buy it, I’d get a bundle or two of fresh thyme from the produce section of the grocery store.
  • Put a lid on the double boiler and bring things to a simmer. Do NOT boil it. Keep the heat low enough that you can simmer this for about 2 hours.
  • When you’re finished simmering, you should also have well-drained alcohol in your other pot. I always give a big squeeze to get the last drops of thyme-ginger goodness from my floursack towel.
  • Your honey will be liquid. Pour it through your colander to get the big pieces of thyme out of it, but don’t use the floursack towel. You want as much honey as possible to get into your alcohol concoction.
  • Stir the alcohol and honey well to combine them.

That’s it! Now, decant it into bottles to take as it’s needed. I prefer to use amber glass bottles to protect the contents from light. Once I finish off my current batch, I’ll add more photos.

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How do you use Honey Thyme Ginger Cough syrup?

I’ve used a version of this for my family for years. You can administer it in different ways. You can give it to the person by the spoonful, just like a pharmacy cough syrup, or you can add it to hot water to make a tasty, beneficial tea.

Always check with your doctor before using this or any other home remedy.

Do you have a homemade cough syrup that you make? Are there ingredients in yours I didn’t include in mine? Please share your method and secrets in the comments.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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