Like many households, we are passing around and getting over various winter bugs with their share of fevers, aches, sniffles, sneezes and coughs. Often hanging around for days (or even weeks) after the initial cold is gone, coughs are the worst. Anything that causes you to lose sleep while straining all the muscles in your chest, back and neck is something you want to heal as quickly as possible.
The recipe for getting better in our house is lots of homemade, pasture-raised chicken broth, Netflix videos, and one or two of these favorite homemade cough remedies.
I can’t take credit for inventing any of these natural cough relievers; they came to me over time and were adapted to fit our needs, just as they have probably been passed along from mom to mom, with minor variations for thousands of years.
So in the spirit of the generations of mothers who want desperately to soothe their child’s railing breath, I pass these recipes on to you.
Honey-Ginger Throat Salve
Take 2-3 times a day, as needed to soothe sore throat and dry coughing.
- A 2-inch knob of fresh ginger
- 1 Tbsp. organic, raw honey*
- Peel, then finely grate ginger into a small bowl.
- Squeeze grated ginger through a fine mesh sieve (or just use your fingers) to release about 1 teaspoon of juice. Discard pulp.
- Mix the teaspoon of fresh ginger juice thoroughly into the Tablespoon of honey.
- Take the syrup right away, swallowing slowly and deliberately.
* Do not give honey to infants under the age of 1.
Onion, Garlic and Ginger Cough Syrup
Take 2-3 times a day, as needed to soothe sore throat and wet or congested coughs.
- 1-2 onions (any type)
- 1-3 heads of garlic (any type)
- 1 large hand of ginger
- 3-4 cups dehydrated cane juice, Rapadura, panela or coconut sap sugar
- 1 Quart (1 L) canning jar
- Peel and slice the onion, garlic and ginger as thinly as you can.
- On the bottom of the Mason jar, layer slices of onion, garlic and ginger about an inch thick.
- Pour dehydrated cane juice over the onion mixture until you can’t see it anymore from the top, making another layer about an inch deep.
- Add another inch-thick layer of onions, garlic and ginger slices, then pour in the cane juice to cover. Repeat this process, making an onion and sugar “parfait” until the jar is almost full.
- Top off with a bit more cane juice and close the lid tightly.
- In one hour, the sugar will be soft. In two, you will start to see liquid forming in the bottom of the jar. In three hours, you will see the syrup forming, and in four hours, the syrup will be complete.
- Don’t remove the onions, garlic and ginger from the syrup. Just press the mixture back with the spoon when you administer the syrup. Keeps for 6 months to a year unrefrigerated.
Thyme Oil Vapor Steam
This simple, time-tested remedy for clogged noses and congested lungs is also anti-bacterial.
- 1 large bowl full of fresh water. (Avoid chlorinated tap water if you can.)
- 10-30 drops thyme essential oil, to suit. (where to find essential oils online)
- Boil the water till steaming, then fill the bowl with it.
- Add the thyme oil, starting with 10 drops.
- Cover your head with a towel and hold your face over the bowl, allowing the towel to form a steam tent around your head.
- Inhale and breath deeply and calmly. If the scent of thyme is not strong enough to make a difference to your sinuses add another 5-10 drops, as needed.