Nectar Cough Care Syrup Recipe
This simple cough care syrup recipe is quick and easy requiring a few basic herbs, honey, and brandy. It will soothe a dry cough, help expel mucus from congested lungs and speed recovery. It is gentle enough (and tasty enough) for kids, but just as effective for adults.
The four common herbs in this syrup provide support for coughs and congestion. Thyme (yes, the very same culinary herb you have in your spice cupboard) is one of my favorite herbs for lower respiratory problems. Warming and drying, Thyme is an expectorant, anti-spasmodic and bronchodilator. Herbalists consider it a specific for whooping cough, bronchitis and any infection causing congestion and restriction in the lungs. Thyme makes a lovely tea if you don’t have time to make the syrup. Thyme essential oil in proper dilution can also be used externally as a chest rub. Thyme makes for an excellent lung soothing steam inhalation, using either the dried herb or a couple drops of the essential oil in a small pot of steaming water. Though I most often reach for Thyme for lung related issues, it is also a calming herb for digestion, easing gas and bloating and its antibacterial properties make it useful for chronic urinary tract infections.
Next up is Elecampane–another warming expectorant, somewhat more stimulating than Thyme. This aromatic root is also considered a lung tonic, anti-inflammatory, and immune modulator. I use it for chronic, irritable coughs with lots of mucus. Elecampane is also a bitter and digestive tonic that supports healthy gut bacteria.
Mullein is also an expectorant (but more relaxing that either Thyme or Elecampane) and in this cough syrup it also acts as a soothing demulcent. I consider it specific for dry harsh coughs. The Marshmallow Root is also a soothing demulcent for dry, irritated, inflamed tissue. Ginger was featured in my recent post, Five Herbs for Cold & Flu Season. It is an excellent all-round remedy for cold, congestive conditions of the respiratory tract and flu symptoms. Ginger also offers welcome relief for the fever, body aches and headaches that often accompany flu. Fennel seed is another culinary herb that does double duty in the medicine chest. This sweet aromatic seed is a mild expectorant, anti-spasmodic, and bronchodilator. Like many of the other herbs in this syrup, Fennel is also a carminative herb that will help ease gas and bloating. Indeed, this syrup itself will do double duty for use a both as a cough syrup and soothing digestive aid.
- 1/2 ounce Thyme (~1/4 cup)
- 1/2 ounce Elecampane (~2 tbsp)
- 1/4 ounce Mullein (~1 cup)
- 1/4 ounce Marshmallow Root (~2 tbsp)
- 1/4 ounce Ginger (~2 tbsp)
- 1/4 ounce Fennel (~1 tbsp)
- 2 cups filtered Water
- 1-1/4 cup Raw local honey
- 3/4 cup Brandy
I prefer to measure herbs by weight to maintain consistency as volume can vary greatly. However if you don’t have a scale, you can use the approximate volume amount listed after each herb. Place the herbs in a large mason jar with a lid. Bring two cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat and pour the hot water into the jar covering the herbs and gently stir until the herbs are entirely saturated. Carefully (it’s hot), put the lid on the jar and allow the herbs to steep for at least 30 minutes to create a strong tea. Strain the herbs and measure one cup of the strong tea. While the herbs are steeping, put the honey in a pot on the stove and very slowly warm, keeping the temperature below 105 degrees to preserve the therapeutic properties of your honey. Stir one cup of tea into the honey until well combined. Add the brandy and mix well. Pour in a dark bottle, label, and refrigerate. Use as needed for coughs, approximately 1 tsp, every 3-4 hours.
Variations: You can also make this syrup without the brandy, but it will have a shorter shelf life. If you choose to omit the brandy, increase the honey as follows: one part (1 cup) tea to two parts (2 cups) honey. This should ensure that your syrup is good for about one year. I prefer to use the brandy for a less sweet (though still tasty) syrup with a longer shelf life.
I hope that you and your loved ones all have a bright and healthy cold and flu season, but should that pesky cold or flu bug come to visit, you’ll be glad you have this cough care syrup on hand.
wishing you health and happiness,
Herbalist & Proprietress