The Witch’s Garden

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Homemade Cough Syrup Recipe

Lingering cough: thou art my nemesis.

Whenever I catch a cold or some associated respiratory illness, it almost invariably moves into my lungs. Ten years of smoking nearly a pack of cigarettes per day earlier in my life have left my lungs more vulnerable than other parts of my body, and those germs just love to move in and rough things up. I developed this cough syrup recipe because taking commercial cough syrup for several weeks at a time is really hard on my body. I'm one of those people who gets jittery and uncomfortable from dextromethorphen hydrobromide.

Since cold season is upon us with the children's return to school (a veritable shopping mall of germs where everything is, unfortunately, free) and the first cooling changes in the weather, I thought others might want to try this project at home. Please let me know how it works for you.

You will need:
-3 cups of water
-1 big handful each of mullein leaf, coltsfoot leaf, wild cherry bark
-1 handful of horehound leaf (optional)
-1 handful elderberries (optional)
-2 cups of honey
-if you want a thicker syrup, you might add a small amount of pectin. I don't really think it's necessary, but some like it that way.
-1 cup brandy or vegetable glycerine (if using glycerine, reduce honey to one cup)

Bring water to a boil in a covered pot, add herbs, and boil covered until 3 cups of water is reduced to 2 cups of dark liquid. At this point, it should taste somewhat vile.

Remove from heat and strain well, pressing herbs into strainer with a heavy item to make sure as much liquid as possible is squeezed out.

Stir in honey (add pectin directly to honey, then stir in. A single tablespoon is enough).

Add brandy or vegetable glycerine to preserve. 

Shake well before using, as natural ingredient settle to the bottom.

Adult Dosage is 2 tablespoons every 2-4 hours as needed. For me, this syrup has loosened a tight chest, helped me eliminate the mucus in a wet cough, and has eased and soothed dry, hacking coughs.

Dosage for children under twelve varies: 1/2 tsp every two hours for littles, 1 tsp every two hours for children 4-8, 1 tbsp every 2 hours for children 8-12. Use your own judgment and adjust for children who are smaller or larger than average. 

May you enjoy a happy, healthy Autumn and Winter!

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Yeshe Rabbit is a practicing herbalist, collector of folk medicine wisdom, and herbal alchemist. Her recipes and remedies are based on everything from scientific studies to intuitive revelations and “old wives tales” that work. She teaches The Witch’s Garden herbalism classes in Oakland, California, and at her store, The Sacred Well, offers consultations in person and via telephone, and gardens by moonlight.

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