I searched out my recipe for cough syrup this morning and made sure I have all the necessary ingredients if I need to make a batch. At the moment we’re all healthy and I hope we stay that way, but yesterday we took one of our little dogs to the vet for shots and everyone we had contact with over there was SICK. The receptionist had a terrible cold… the vet had a cold… as did the technicians… someone was coughing all the time we were there. We must have been breathing in more germs than air.


It’s too bad the people at the vet’s office don’t believe in natural remedies because this homemade cough syrup would take care of their coughs very quickly. The recipe comes from a wonderful little paperback book called Herbally Yours by Penny C. Royal. I haven’t needed to make this cough syrup very often because thankfully we almost never have colds or coughs, but I have thought it was wonderful stuff ever since one year when we were all very sick with the flu and couldn’t stop coughing. Store-bought cough syrups hadn’t helped at all… this homemade cough syrup did.

1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix all the ingredients together and store in the refrigerator. The book says to take one teaspoon of the syrup at intervals as needed. (We have always adjusted the dosage according to the age of the person and the severity of the cough. And of course, because of the sharpness of the vinegar, ground ginger, and cayenne pepper, and because there is honey involved, this would not be a cough syrup for very young children.)

I like that this cough syrup contains only “food” ingredients, but the best thing about it is that it WORKS.

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My recipe for cough syrup is honey and onions. Slice the onions into thick rounds, put them in a double boiler and cover with honey, about an inch above the onions. Cook slowly until the onions are stringy, take them out and bottle the syrup. It works great, but I might try ginger and cayenne in it this year.


Made some this morning and have taken it twice. I was coughing really bad and I’m not coughing as much. I really think this works. Thanks for sharing this.


Oh boy!!!!! That stuff sure does bite. But I agree I think it works too. I have made this for years and swear by it.


DH came home from a business conference with a bad cough and no matter what we thru at it he couldn’t seem to get rid of it. I read your blog post a couple of days ago and decided to give your recipe a try. Now DH says to tell you he’s convinced and so am I. Now he only coughs once in a while, that horrible hacking cough he had is *GONE*! Thank you thank you thank you. I love the rest of your blog too.


I just wanted to say that I have this book and I use it all the time. There is so much good information in it about using herbs for different ailments and conditions and it’s all easy to understand and not wierd if you know what I mean.

Karin F

Thank you Shirley – I made this for my husband and it saw his cough off quickly. The taste reminds me of a cough mixture for which I used to beg as a child (even when I didn’t have a cough) and which, sadly, is no longer made. It was an all-herbal recipe, so perhaps it’s been edged out as unprofitable for the big pharmaceutical companies these days. I imagine you could add garlic to the syrup, as this is also effective against coughs and colds, though perhaps somewhat anti-social unless everyone is taking it.


This is awesome! I have become the “all-natural” (when possible) type of the household, due mostly to incredibly sensitive skin and it’s so much more affordable to make things on my own rather than attempting to purchase what I would like to use, as everything seems to have at least one ingredient that I react to. Up until now, the only cough syrup that seems to be effective for me contains alcohol, which sends me for a loop, although it does cure the cough…I will definitely have to try this the next time I end up with a cough and cold. How long does it last in the refrigerator before going bad? I’m so glad I stumbled onto your blog. (I was originally looking up powder recipes, attempting to find the recipe I used last spring to make some powder for my grandmother.) Thanks again!


This past winter, I tried making a paste of honey and ground ginger to help with throat congestion after finding it mentioned as a home remedy someplace. It worked quite well. This syrup seems similar, except it also includes the vinegar and the cayenne pepper.


My Mom use to send us scads of hard peppermint candy. Always trying to utilize everything I have, I remembered something I read…I filled a jar with candy and covered it with inexpensive vodka(didn’t take much)and let it season. Voila’ cough syrup. We call it ‘the recipe’:)


I am so happy to have found this. I’ve been fighting allergies this past 1-1/2 weeks, and now I am in the coughing stage. I have two old bottles of prescription cough syrup in the fridge, but I would not use it with the other meds I was taking for the allergies. I just might make some of this today! I’m moving more and more toward natural and homemade everything!!!


This really really works,its wonderful!


This is a great recipe. It’s similar to my magic potion, which doesn’t have the vinegar, but instead uses lemon or lime juice and adds in a garlic clove.

Mary B.

Thank you, Shirley, so much for posting this! I have been using it for more than a year now. It works better for coughs than over-the counter cough medicine. But even better,if you take a spoonful when you feel the very first symptoms of a cold coming on (i.e. that scratchy throat feeling) — it prevents it! I follow your recipe except leave out the water. Even my husband, who won’t eat food with cayenne, is happy to take it. I’m convinced it has saved us many times from getting a cold. Something about this mixture creates a hostile environment for the viruses, I’m assuming.


How long would this keep in the refrigerator? Thank you.

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Marlies, the syrup will keep in the refrigerator for a few days. I wouldn’t leave it longer than that… but the recipe makes such a small quantity, you will use it within that time span if you are following the recommended dosage of a teaspoonful as needed.


This is amazing. I have had a horrible cough for nearly a week, made this up and after the first dose my cough was greatly reduced. Thank you!


This is amazing stuff! I have been sick with a cough for over 2 weeks. I have tried everything and my cough got worse. After sleeping very little for night after night, I tried your natural cough syrup. For the first time in 2 weeks I slept through the night. I did get up once to use the potty, but I was able to go back to sleep right away. What a relief. It only took one dose. The next morning, I am still not coughing as much. I would not have believed it if I had not experienced myself. Thanks so much!