Finding the best cough syrup for adults and/or children isn’t easy. But it’s well worth the effort since coughs often accompany colds and flu.
While there are many over-the-counter cough syrups you can take to suppress a cough, they often come with side effects, like drowsiness. Moreover, popular cough suppressants are filled with unnecessary artificial colors, preservatives (like polysorbate 80 and propylparaben), sucrose, and high fructose corn syrup. Far from what the best cough syrup should be like!
In fact, the active ingredient in many commercial cough remedies is dextromethorphan; it can adversely interact with many other medications, especially anti-depressants and hypertension medication. (1, 2)
Dextromethorphan works by blocking cough signals to the brain. It therefore doesn’t nourish and protect, it incites an unnatural chemical reaction that messes with neurotransmission. In addition, prescription cough medications often contain codeine, which can be addictive even in small doses. (3)
Fortunately, there are natural ways to treat a cough that work just as well as all those chemicals without messing with your brain.
The Best Cough Syrup For Adults & Children
Here’s a breakdown of the key ingredients used in the best cough syrup recipe below:
Honey has been used for time immemorial for all types of ailments, including coughs. It’s not only sweet and tastes good, it’s effective medicine. One of Nature’s perfect foods, honey is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and soothes a sore throat with its thick creaminess. Honey can be applied topically in a plaster or taken internally to naturally fight coughs and reduce mucus in the lungs—whatever the cause.
Ginger is a medicinal wonder. With anti-inflammatory qualities, phytochemicals in ginger boost the immune system to help your body combat the cause of your cough. Ginger is antibiotic and has been shown a powerful substance against viruses that attack the respiratory system.And then there’s thyme. This tiny-leaved herb contains carvacrol (so does oregano) and thymol, two antioxidant substances that have been studied in a variety of contexts for their many health effects. Carvacrol kills on contact salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni, and Listeria monocytogenes, three micro-organisms that commonly cause food-borne bacterial disease, thereby preventing infection. (4, 5, 6) Carvacrol has an effect on dopamine and serotonin production, promoting feelings of calmness and well-being. (7) Thymol kills staph infections and is a known anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor agent that protects the liver. (8)
When used to treat a cough, the complex composition of thyme acts as an anti-spasmodic by reducing inflammation and calming the nervous system. In a study of thyme’s efficacy on bronchitis, it was found to reduce coughing fits fast with no noticeable side effects. (9) Thyme is also effective for laryngitis, diarrhea, and upset stomach. You can even use thyme essential oil mixed with water to disinfect your hard surfaces as well as bleach does. (10, 11)
Thyme treats the cause as well as the symptom. If you have a cough, it’s syrup thyme!
Ginger Thyme Cough SyrupYou'll need:
- 2 handfuls fresh organic thyme
- 1 knuckle ginger, scraped and minced
- 1 1/2 cups filtered water
- 3/4 cup raw (unpasteurized) local honey
- Place thyme and ginger in a pot and add water.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
- Remove from heat.
- Cover the pot and allow the syrup to steep for 30-60 minutes, then strain.
- Add honey to the liquid and stir to blend. If the syrup is too thick, add water to desired consistency.
- Allow syrup to cool and store in the refrigerator.
Adults: 3-5 tablespoons per day
Children: 3-5 teaspoons per day
- Honey should not be given to children under one year of age.
- Thyme contains salicylates (the active ingredient in aspirin), a class of phytochemicals that increases circulation and metabolism and thins the blood. Do not consume large amounts of thyme if you are taking blood thinning medication. (12)
- If you’re pregnant, consult your healthcare practitioner before consuming a significant amount of thyme.
The best cough syrup offers many benefits: it’s nutritious, tastes good, and is effective at stopping coughs and supporting the immune system. It’s safe for children and has no adverse side effects. It can be made in a batch and stored for the duration of your cough. Thyme can be grown at home so you always have a supply on hand for cooking and medicinal use. Thyme’s up!