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I can tell that it is fall already because everywhere that I turn I am seeing pumpkin everything! With pumpkin season in full swing already (and it's not even my birthday month yet!), I am working hard to fill my natural medicine cabinet for this coming cold & flu season. We have already learned how to make our own herbal cough syrup and sore throat spray, so it's only natural that the next thing we learn to make is homemade cough drops!
Many of the cough drops that are sold at your local grocery store are made with more than just herbs. Most of them contain high fructose corn syrup (and other artificial sweeteners) as well as artificial dyes. With a household full of ADHD, these are ingredients that we are constantly trying to avoid. This is why I make our own cough drops!
Herbs help calm and soothe a cough and sore throat
You can tailor your cough drops with herbs that are great at soothing coughs and sore throats, and even boost your immunities. Some herbs are tastier than others, but can be covered up with a little bit of cinnamon and ginger in the recipe!
- Anise Seed – Warm and spicy, anise seed is great relieving dry painful spasmodic coughs with phlegm that is difficult to release. Spasmodic barking-like coughs also find relief with Anise seed.
- Chamomile flowers – Chamomile has a long history of medicinal use. It’s natural soothing and anti-inflammatory properties make it great at helping to soothe all kinds of coughs. It’s also helpful to add chamomile to your syrup for it’s natural calming capabilities, to help you sleep better while getting over your cough.
- Cinnamon chips – Like ginger, cinnamon is a warming herb that helps with circulation, congestion, and boosting immunities which make it a great addition to any cold or cough remedy.
- Cloves – Used for centuries as a natural anesthetic by Dentists all over the world, to help numb toothaches, mouth ulcers, and sore throats, cloves are highly antiseptic and antibacterial.
- Echinacea root – Used for centuries and clinically studied for years, Echinacea is a very well known immune boosting herb that helps speed up healing and is naturally antibacterial and anti-fungal. Echinacea is great for healing respiratory and throat infections.
- Elecampane root – A natural expectorant Elecampane is perfect for wet phlegmy coughs that produce thick yellow/green mucus. Also great for bronchial and sinus infections that are producing colored phlegm.
- Ginger root – A warming herb that has been shown to reduce inflammation, increase circulation, boost your immunities, and even help to relieve coughs and sore throats. Ginger is an all around herb that I use in all of my cold related syrups!
- Hyssop – Hyssop is a fabulous addition to any cough remedy. It’s natural abilities to cool and moisten, makes it great for dry unproductive coughs. It’s also a great herb to help relieve pain from sore throats as well.
- Licorice Root – Another mucilaginous herb that helps to soothe inflammation, licorice root is great for all sorts of coughs and sore throats. Its mucilaginous properties make it great for dry irritated membranes, while it’s also a natural expectorant, making it great for helping rid a wet productive cough of all the phlegm. Licorice root is also used in many syrups to help sweeten the flavor due to some of the bitter tasting herbs that many syrups contain.
- Marshmallow Root – Its mucilaginous and anti-inflammatory properties make marshmallow root great for dry inflamed throats. Marshmallow root is wonderful to soothe sore throats and dry irritating coughs, including bronchitis.
- Mullein Leaf – Mullein leaf has been known to be both antispasmodic and a great expectorant, making it a great remedy for deep wet coughs and spastic coughs. Mullein leaf is very effective at fighting an infection and reducing pain as well.
- Sage leaf – One of the oldest remedies for sore throats, coughs, and mouth inflammations, just gargling and drinking a sage infusion, can bring a lot of relief!Antibacterial and antiseptic, sage tea is a great home remedy by itself!
- Thyme leaf – Thyme is a powerful disinfectant and antiseptic, so it also helps to fight off colds and infections. Great for all sorts of coughs but especially for dry coughs.
- Slippery Elm Bark – Another great mucilaginous herb, slippery elm is great for all sorts of coughs, helping to soothe inflamed membranes.
- Red Clover Blossoms – Used for centuries to help cleanse the body and boost the immune system, red clover has long been used to treat bronchitis and other upper respiratory infections. A warming expectorant, red clover is known to help relieve chest congestion and inflamed throats.
Homemade Herbal Cough Drops
These cough drops came out amazing! When I first started trying to make my own cough drops, I followed this recipe, but I ended up playing around with it because it didn't harden as it should. After reducing the herbal infusion and adding sugar to the recipe, I was able to get the perfect cough drop! You can substitute the sugar in this recipe for honey, maple syrup, or even molasses.
- 1/2 cup strong herbal infusion (for this post I used 1 Tbsp. each of chamomile flowers, licorice root, rosehips, ginger root, cinnamon chips, and sage leaf infused in 16 oz. boiling water.)
- 1/2 cup raw unfiltered honey
- 1 cup organic sugar (this can be substituted for honey, maple syrup, or even molasses, though I combine sugar and honey for the best consistency)
- powdered sugar or powdered herbs (a blend of powdered slippery elm and stevia can be used instead!)
- Candy thermometer
- Heavy duty pan
- Candy molds (optional – I made my own candy molds with a layer of powdered sugar indented with a 1/2 tsp to make perfectly sized cough drops)
- Bring 1-2 cups water (enough to cover the herbs you've chosen) to a boil. Cover the pan and turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Steep your herbal infusion for 20 minutes on low. Strain your herbs.
- In your heavy duty saucepan (if your pan is not heavy-duty it may cause your cough drop mixture to burn while it's cooking!), combine 1/2 cup herbal infusion, sugar, and honey. Clip on your candy thermometer.
- Heat mixture over medium to medium-high heat, stirring every so often, (do not leave this mixture unattended) until it reaches 300 degrees F (Hard Crack). You can tell you're almost there when the mixture starts to thicken. If you start to smell your cough drop mixture burning, it's best to remove from heat so as not to destroy the cough drops.
- Pour your herbal mixture carefully into the molds, I used a pyrex cup to more easily pour my mixture. Allow to cool and dust with powdered sugar or a powdered herbal mixture of slippery elm and stevia leaf.
- Store in the fridge or freezer. If using all honey or maple syrup you may only be able to store them in single layers on parchment paper because the consistency is a tad less hard and can stick to one another.)
You do not need to use candy molds to make these! There are other alternatives that you can do instead. I chose to make mine in a powdered sugar candy mold! It's so easy and it totally worked great! In a casserole dish, spread a layer of powdered sugar. Using something round, I used the bottom side of a 1/2 tsp. spoon, make round indentions in the powdered sugar. Pour your cough drops into the powdered sugar molds and allow to cool!