It’s here yet again, the inevitable and equally dreaded cold season. Generally healthy lifestyles usually succumb to unhealthy holiday treats this time of year. This junk food splurging weakens the immune system, making the body more susceptible to colds and flus. Instead of downing some cherry flavored nastiness though, you can easily make your own delicious licorice cough syrup.
Licorice was actually the very first herb I remember experiencing when I was younger. My mom wasn’t into the whole herbal remedies thing. My cough syrup tasted the same as my Kool-Aid at home. My good friend Julie grew up quite differently. I was over at her house one day when I mentioned a sore throat. Off one of her older sisters went to the kitchen to conjure up a steaming cup of licorice tea.
This sweet root has since become one of my favorite herbs to work with. It’s very gentle and is often used in children’s formulas. The sweet taste makes it especially good at hiding other more bitter flavors.
Licorice helps support the adrenal glands to help the body respond better to stress and stay healthy. Its antiviral properties protect the body from invading viruses and boost immunity. It’s also a demulcent, meaning it’s soothing to the throat, while at the same time having expectorant properties that help loosen and eliminate phlegm.
A word of caution though, glycyrrhizin, the constituent in the herb that makes this sweet, isn’t for everyone. Licorice shouldn’t be used by those with high blood pressure.
Echinacea is the other wonder herb in this compound. It’s one of my favorites to use and I’ve put it in everything from syrup, to gelatin, to tea. It’s great at helping the body fight off infections, but it’s not one that should be used preventatively.
Echinacea is most effective when taken at the very first sign of sickness and for no more than two weeks at a time.
Not only does it boost immunity, but Echinacea is anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-microbrial. It’ s also considered anti-catarrhal, meaning it helps break up excess mucus in the body. These properties make it perfect to add to a cough syrup.
This licorice cough syrup will work best when taken at the first signs of a sore throat or cough. Because of the Echinacea, don’t take it for longer than 2 weeks though.
I actually had to consult with my course instructor at Vintage Remedies for how to properly make and dose this herbal syrup, but Jessie was able to give me a very accurate answer. There’s a total of 60 doses in this syrup, so if you cook it down to the recommended 1.5 cups, each average adult dose is 1 and 1/4 tsp. You can use this online calculator that uses Young’s rule for determining a child’s dose by their age. I’ve included the general dosing below, but you can use the calculator to be more precise.
The recommended serving size is 1/4 tsp for toddlers 3 times daily or ½-1 tsp, 3 times daily for children. Adults could take 1 and 1/4 tsp 3 times daily. I like to give small amounts every few hours and then re-evaluate the condition to see if more is needed. This shouldn’t be used by those with blood pressure issues or diabetes.
- Add the licorice root to the water and simmer gently with the lid off for 30 minutes. You want the water to reduce by half, so you'll end up with 2 cups of licorice decoction.Turn off the heat, add the Echinacea, and steep for another 10-15 minutes. Strain the herbs and discard.
- Add the licorice-Echinacea infusion to a glass measuring cup to see how many ounces there are. It should be right around 16 ounces, or 2 cups.
- Add the liquid to the saucepan and add an equal amount of organic sweetener to the saucepan. So if you had exactly 2 cups of liquid, then add 2 cups of sweetener.
- Heat the mixture to a rolling boil and boil for 10 minutes to reduce. The dosage recommendations given here are based off of a final yield of 1.5 cups of syrup.
- Bottle and store in the fridge for up to 2 months.
- one-fourth tsp 3 times daily for toddlers
- one half to one tsp 3 times daily for children
- one and one-fourth tsp 3 times daily for adults
- Do not take for longer than 2 weeks.
- Vintage Remedies
- Jessie Hawkins, founder of Vintage Remedies
- Practical Herbalism
- An Encyclopedia of Natural Healing for Children and Infants