If over-the-counter cough drops aren’t helping, you may need a more natural remedy to get to the source of the ailment. This horehound recipe is made with loving care using all-natural ingredients like horehound, peppermint, and honey.
This is the easiest recipe I found and works brilliantly! But first why horehound and peppermint?
Horehound is one of the oldest medicinal herbs used and is renowned for it’s healing properties. It’s an herbal remedy best used for lung and breathing problems including cough, whooping cough, asthma, tuberculosis, bronchitis, and swollen breathing passages. It is a part of the mint family and contains certain antibiotic and antimicrobial properties that make it a natural way to boost your immune system. According to WebMD, horehound is such an effective cough suppressant because “the chemicals in horehound thin mucus secretions, reduce spasms in the stomach and intestines, and decrease swelling (inflammation). While on its own it has a bitter taste, adding honey will help that natural medicine go down. More on that soon!
Did you know that sailors carried peppermint with them to help with ailments onboard ships? After reading that fun fact, adding peppermint to my homemade lozenges was a no brainer. The menthol in peppermint acts as a natural decongestant and has a cooling effect that naturally soothes inflamed throats. It provides effective relief from many respiratory problems including nasal congestion, sinusitis, asthma, bronchitis, and the common cold and cough. If you do not have loose peppermint available, you can add 10-15 drops of peppermint essential oil to the recipe below and get the same medicinal effect.
Honey is the perfect accompaniment to your homemade cough drop recipe. Honey actually fights against bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus. The latter is the most common bacteria found in the human nasal passages and nose. Also, honey should be as raw as possible, and the darker the better. Dark honey contains more antioxidants, and it is more effective in fighting microorganisms and bacteria. It is highly effective as a cough-suppressant and as a demulcent. That latter term means something that coats the throat and the linings of the trachea and mouth to soothe the surfaces…a principle for which cough drops and lozenges have a primary function/goal. You can read more about the healing properties of honey here. Moreover, not only does honey make the lozenges taste better it is also a binding ingredient which holds the lozenges together.
Old Fashioned Horehound Cough Drops
Before you start on your cough drop making adventures, make sure you have the proper equipment:
- stainless steel pot
- fine mesh sieve
- cookie sheet
- candy thermometer (optional)
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 cup horehound
- 1/2 cup peppermint
- 1-1/2 cup local honey
- granulated sugar – optional
- Bring water to a boil and add loose herbs. Stir herbs into the water and cover.
- Remove from heat and allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes.
- Strain and reserve liquid. Add used herbs to your compost pile.
- Add the honey to the herbal liquid, return to the pot, and bring to a boil once again.
- Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce heat to a simmer.
- Stir constantly until the syrup reaches 300 degree F (this could take up to 30 minutes). This is where a candy thermometer will come in handy. Or, if you’re like me and don’t have a candy thermometer, use the water test (see below).
- Grease a cookie sheet with butter or coconut oil and pour in the syrup.
- When the syrup has cooled and is pliable, begin pulling off small pieces and roll them between the palms of greased hands. Form a small, cough-drop sized ball. Note: Work quickly as the mixture hardens pretty fast. If balls harden during the process, return pan to a preheated 350 degrees F oven to soften for a few minutes. Note: for added sweetness, roll cough drops in sugar and set on a cookie sheet.
- Allow lozenges to cool and harden on a sheet pan.
- Wrap the lozenges individually in pre-cut sheets of parchment paper in an airtight container up to 3 weeks.
To ensure that the horehound peppermint syrup has reached the correct temperature/consistency, place a drop or two of the syrup into a bowl full of ice water. If the syrup turns and stays hard (like a cough drop) then you know it’s ready. If it is still soft and sticky, it needs to keep cooking.