A natural homemade recipe for cough syrup using thyme, garlic, honey and sage.

coughsyrupMother Nature bestows so many gifts upon us, providing all we could ever need for a long and healthy life; foods to nourish us, flowers, herbs and essential oils to restore harmony to the body-mind for example. Modern life has drawn us away from the healing skills of our ancestors and many of us have lost touch with the rhythms of nature.

Let food be your medicine

Tapping back into some of the wisdom of the ages is one way to lead a more self sufficient and sustainable life. Hippocrates said “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food”. By learning about the power of some of the herbs we can grow, you can have your very own natural green, eco friendly medicine chest to treat minor ailments. By no longer needing to buy over the counter preparations for certain health conditions you no longer have to make an agonising choice over whether something is an ethical purchase.

The healing powers of thyme

Little Miss Green developed a cough last week. Luckily we have thyme and sage in the garden for making a soothing and immune boosting tea. A couple of sprigs of thyme on top of the wood burner to keep the air free from germs and her cough was soon gone.


Thyme has powerful antiseptic and expectorant properties. You only have to stroke the leaves lightly to release a powerful and warming smell that feels so good and invigorating!

Nasties in cough syrup

Take a look at many regular brands of cough syrup aimed at children, and you’ll see that some of the ingredients are anything but natural and supporting for the body. Artificial sweeteners, flavourings and bright chemical colourings adorn bottles of gloop supposedly there to help your child feel better. Hardly the ethical or sustainable choice and they should be no where near a healthy child, let alone a sick one.

Gifts from nature

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Mother Nature provides us with all that we need in the form of safe, natural ingredients. All we have to do is tap into the wisdom of the ages and understand that one of the greatest healers is rest and time! So many medicines promise us instant relief and encourage us to carry on with our busy lives.

More often than not, the message from our body when we are ill is to slow down. Such a taboo thing in our modern lifestyle………..

A good read

Replacing those artificial sweeteners with honey and flavourings with healing fennel is easy with one of my favourite recipes which comes courtesy of ‘Herbal Remedies’ by Christopher Hedly and Non Shaw.

Do get yourself a copy of this small book – it is one I have used over and over again. It will provide you with invaluable advise on how to treat a wide range of minor health conditions with things you will find in your kitchen cupboards or garden – self sufficiency at its best!


Home made recipe for cough syrup

Put the following in 1 1/2 pints of water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes:

1/2 oz dried thyme
1/4 oz dried sage
1/4 oz dried chamomile
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp aniseed
20 cloves
2 garlic cloves
pinch cayenne or ground ginger


Allow the liquid to cool a little and strain into a clean saucepan. Press the herbs with the back of a spoon to extract all you can

Return the strained liquid to the heat and simmer very gently, uncovered, until reduced to 7fl oz. The slower the reduction, the better.

Add 1lb of honey (or sugar if you vegan, but the honey does have its honeyown beneficial properties) to the pan. Dissolve slowly and simmer for a few minutes, stirring all the time until you reach a syrupy consistency.
Let the mixture bubble for a moment, but do not overheat otherwise the texture will change.

Pour the syrup into a clean bottle or jar (the old honey jar is perfect), label and date


For children you can give 1 tsp 3-6 times a day
For adults, give 2-3 tsp 3-5 times a day

What about you – do you have a favourite remedy for coughs or a good book recommendation?


  1. christine ortiz on June 9, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    i just wanted to say that this recipe was probably the most down to earth and believable one i have seen yet. this brings me to say i have to design my own cough syrup for my herbal medicine class and i feel i have a pretty good understanding about what i can use give or take some ingredients. i thaought about using cherry juice for extra flavoring , plus some anti biotic components such as garlic and echinachea

  2. Mrs Green on June 10, 2008 at 12:08 am

    Hi Christine,

    Lovely to see you – thank you for taking time out to comment. We’ve found this recipe to be wonderful, and unlike bought products, my daughter will actually take this happily rather than having to be persuaded (always good!)

    Good luck with designing your own cough syrup – perhaps you could come back and share the recipe with us.

    Coltsfoot is worth thinking about too. Nature provides us with so much!

    Mrs G x

  3. Zane on July 30, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Hi Mrs Green,

    I love your recipe but I have one question. How long does the syrup stay good for. Does it need to be refrigerated?

  4. Mrs Green on August 11, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Hi Zane,

    Glad you like the recipe. Tbh, I’ve never thought about longevity – I figure with all that garlic and thyme in it, it’s going to last. I keep ours for about a year before it’s gone and I’ve never refrigerated it.

    I’m sorry I can’t be more specific. I guess 6 months would be advisable…………..

  5. Paula on March 15, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    We try to fight cold as natural as possible, hoping to not resort to allopathic treatments.
    So I would say, that your product should include herb extracts or dry herbs for baby cough.

    I have some herbs always at hand and they have saved the day many times:
    Sage, Coltsfoot (which I discovered last fall and I am very pleased with it), Echinacea, Peppermint.

    We drink prophylactically Chamomile, Marigold, Lime tea.

  6. Mrs Green on March 20, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    @Paula: Thanks for sharing your favourite herbs Paula. Interesting you mention coltsfoot; we found sticks of it in a local organic farm shop this weekend. I bought LMG one and she couldn’t get enough of it. Then I learned about it’s effects on the respiratory tract and everything fits beautifully. She is rarely ill, but it’s always her upper respiratory tract and chest that gets effected when she does. I love the wisdom of our bodies and the cures of nature!