Homemade Cough and Cold Syrup 1

Homemade Cough and Cold Syrup

Since mentioning and tweeting about this syrup I made, I’ve had many requests to share the recipe, so here it is!

10 essential herbsIt comes from a book I mentioned briefly before called 10 Essential Herbs by Lalitha Thomas. This is a rare (I believe because it’s out of print) book from 1996 that my mother-in-law stumbled upon somewhere. It’s very interesting because Lalitha is not a “certified” anything when it comes to herbs, but it’s clear as you read through the book that they are very much a part of her daily life and that her own personal study and use of herbs is extensive.

Personally, I’m very happy to read a book by someone who doesn’t have letters after her name but has devoted much of her life to learning a craft, and Lalitha is incredibly skilled at communicating how to use herbs in a down-to-earth way for anyone who is just learning. I love this book in particular because it focuses on 10 easily acquired herbs (cloves, chaparral, cayenne, comfrey, ginger, garlic, onion, peppermint, slippery elm and yarrow) and shows you how to treat almost anything with only these 10 herbs. Amazing!

This recipe I’m sharing comes from her chapter on Onion, which I confess I had sort of skipped over at first to read the other chapters on more “interesting and useful” herbs.

The laugh is on me, because when I finally got around to reading about the humble onion, I was astounded at how useful it is!

I made this recipe in 20 minutes yesterday while puttering around the kitchen making other things and Abbie and I have been using it since then. It seems to be keeping her coughing to a minimum, as well as helping to ease my sore throat and minimizing my stuffiness. I feel like it’s helping to decongest my sinuses, which is such a relief, even if it means I’m going through tissue by the boatload.

Cough Syrup Recipe
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5 from 1 vote

Cough Syrup Recipe

Author: Ann Timm


  • 1 cup freshly chopped onion
  • About 1/2 cup raw honey*

Plus any of the following (optional):

  • 1 tsp. Cloves whole or powdered- specifically good for pain relief
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Slippery Elm dried or powdered- Slippery Elm has more of a reputation for soothing and coating the throat
  • 1-2 Tbsp. fresh chopped Ginger root OR 1 tsp. Ginger powder- Ginger increases warmth circulation (important for healing) and the overall effectiveness of the syrup
  • 1-2 Tbsp. dried Mullein and/or Marshmallow Root. Marshmallow is very helpful for soothing throat irritations and calming coughs and Mullein is an expectorant, good at clearing up hacking coughs and congestion.

**You can include all of these optional herbs, but at a maximum of 2 Tbsp. extra herbs total


  • Put chopped onions and any herbs of choice into a small stainless steel or glass pot (not alumnimum). Add enough honey to cover the onions ( for me, this seemed to be about 1/2 a cup, though I didn't measure exactly).
  • Turn the pot on low heat and slowly simmer. The honey will soften and become liquidy, and you want to keep the temperature very low while allowing the herbs to steep in the honey. It's best to keep a lid on to help keep all of the medicinal properties of the herbs in the syrup, and just take the lid off to give it a quick stir every few minutes to ensure it doesn't burn at all (though the temp. should be low enough to prevent this).
  • Give it 20 minutes of simmering, then remove it from the heat. Strain the onions and herbs out and store the remaining honey (which might have flecks of herb in it and this is fine) in a small glass jar with a lid and keep it in the fridge.


The syrup can be used as often as needed, up to every half hour. Here are the dosages: 1 tsp. for a younger child, 1 Tbsp. for anyone 10 years and older.
*Do not feed honey to children under 1 year old.

While we’re on the topic of using onions medicinally, I thought I should mention another use I learned yesterday. A commenter said that when her children are sick, she puts chopped onions in a small bag around their neck when they go to bed and in the morning, they wake up well. First I had ever heard of it, but I’ve heard stranger things. Wouldn’t you know it that later yesterday, as I was reading about onion in the book, I read that breathing the fumes of an onion will help with congestion from a cold or other illness!

Homemade Cough and Cold Syrup

Since both Johanna and I have been plugged up lately (her more at night, me all the time) I decided to chop a large onion into chunks and put it in a bowl on the night table near where we both sleep. I couldn’t quite bring myself to actually put it in bed with me, but I could still smell it, for sure! Well, last night was the best sleep I have had in a few nights and the first time that I woke up without feeling all plugged up! Three cheers for the onion!

Has anyone else been using onion as a herbal remedy? How do you use it and do you find it effective?

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  1. My 11 year old daughter uses a tea made with mint and Stinging nettle. She drinks this at least once daily and it helps keep her asthma under control. We do other dietary things that also aid in controlling her asthma but this works well as her medicine for the day.

  2. Yes, Stephanie,

    we use onion a LOT! Our naturopath recommends the onion for so many things. It is said that in times gone by people used to slice onions in half and set them around their homes whenever a sickness was sweeping through a town and the houses that used the onion in, no one got sick in.

    When my dad had shingles very severely, the only thing (and he tried EVERYTHING) that gave him some relief was rubbing a sliced onion on the shingles themselves. The juice of the onion is very healing.

    Onions also help with aches and pains in muscles when there is an issue with toxins. I cut an onion in half and rub it on our shoulders and back of the neck when it seems we are fighting a virus that has settled there.

    We rub a sliced in half onion on our sinuses when we have sinus infections, rub it on our foreheads when we have headaches and the most recent one, our throat for a sore throat. I did this last week and it took my sore throat away that DAY!

    The onion is truly the most healing food I’ve come across.
    The onion-
    -kills viruses
    -pulls out toxins
    Those are two POWERFUL things!

    I’ve been wanting to write a post about the onion for some time but I think I just did it in your comments instead. LOL.


    1. @What’s Cooking, I think you should still write a post on the onion and then come back and tell me about it! Please! 🙂

      One other really interesting thing about the onion in the book… she uses round slices to put on top of bumped and bruised areas on the body, especially after some kind of fall or tumble. She says that putting the onion on basically prevents it from actually bruising or swelling up at all! I can’t wait to try it (except that it means I need to get a big bruise first- ow!).

  3. Making an onion tea helps with an upset stomach. You have to like the flavor of onion, but it does help. This is one that I got from my Nana.

  4. I have the same book, love it, did the same “skip the onion to get to the hard core info” thing that you did. Only I haven’t gotten back to the onion part yet. Guess what I’ll be doing this afternoon.
    I made almost the same cough syrup/sore-throat syrup but used a whole bulb of garlic (minced) instead of the honey. Helps a ton! But it’s kinda HOT tasting. How is the onion syrup? I read that it’s the hotter onions that have the “stuff” that heals. I so wish it were the vidalias. That would be a treat!
    .-= Mother Hen´s last blog ..WOW!!! =-.

    1. @Mother Hen, That’s so funny that you did the same thing with the Onion chapter!

      I don’t find it hot. It does have a bit of a strong aftertaste that hits you after the sweetness of the honey has died off a little. My daughter and son will take it just fine, but my daughter always wants to have a drink of water immediately after, so I guess she must find it strong tasting enough to need a little rinse. 🙂

  5. What a great post, I am going to try the cough syrup this weekend. I hate giving my kids the store bought kind.

    I love how true you are to what you believe in on eating whole, healthy foods. I love your blog.

  6. I’m interested in learning about natural remedies so I’m so excited that you posted this. 🙂 I’m looking forward to trying it out…

  7. Thanks for sharing this! Did the book happen to mention how long this would keep? I’d love to be able to make some ahead to have some on hand this winter.

  8. This is very interesting! I have definitely noticed that the more I cook with onion, the less congested we tend to be. We are increasing onion and garlic in our diets right now, and nobody has been sick as of yet! Great tips, and I will definitely keep this recipe for cough syrup in mind if we need it!
    .-= alexis´s last blog ..Super-Simple Handmade Hand Soaps =-.

  9. Thank you for studying up for all of us Stephanie. Loving these posts. And then for you to get sick to try these remedies….above and beyond. Just kidding! Hope you are well soon. The onion is amazing. We rushed our barely breathing daughter to emergency three times with cough/colds that would restrict her airways (asthma -like response) Three times they admitted her where she was loaded up with steroids for days. Eventually we bought our own nebulizer and had our own stock of inhalants/steroids to keep her airways clear. Until enter the ONION. A homeopath recommended cutting a raw one up, tie in cloth and put beside her head while sleeping. Since the first try she has not been on the ‘breathing machine’ once. At the first sound of a cough the onions come out , she stays breathing and no more steroids wreaking havoc with her little body. Truly an amazing vegetable for which I am so grateful and now all of us use onions. I also make an uncooked syrup of onion and suger which is effective. As far as I know, like garlic, raw is most effective.

  10. Thanks for the post. I recently soaked half an onion (sliced) in honey and gave it to my sick husband. I think it was that, along with some other home remedies, that caused him to be better in just over a day. If the sick person feels up to it (and is old enough), I’ve heard that simply chopping onions for a longer period of time can be really helpful. I’m putting together a document on home remedies for our family and I’ll definitely put this post (and others of yours) down for reference. Thanks!

  11. That is great!!! I am thoroughly enjoying learning about these types of remedies from you. I think you have inspired me to go see what my library has about herbs.

    I really had to laugh (in a good way) at the thought of you estatic over the onions next to your bed. LOL

  12. The weird onion thing really works. 🙂 My husband and I just tried it on our 6 month old. Our midwife instructed us to grate up some onion heat it up on the stove (let cool down some of course) put it on his chest and wrap clear wrap around him. I did not want to do this because it sounded weird AND really messy. But within minutes his breathing slowed to a more normal rate and his fever went from 102 to 98.4! We were so thankful we did it, and so thankful for a great midwife. I just found your blog and I have really enjoyed it, thanks for all the time you put into it.

  13. Just started following your blog this week-thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with the rest of us. How long will this be effective sitting in a cabinet-just want to make it even though we have no coughs right now. Thanks again and keep up the blogging-looking forward to reading more!!

  14. I will have to try that tonight~
    My girls have been stuffy and my hubby has ashma…(we all sleep in the same room so I will do as you did and put the onion on the night table!

    Did I tell you I’m having a giveway? For US residents only and it end Nov 22 (Sun)
    I will be giving away a Pumpkin Scone recipe dish towel~

    .-= Fruitful Harvest´s last blog ..A Pro Life Site Is Having A Giveaway~ =-.

  15. Thank you so much for everything you do for us! I am oh so happy to have read this today. My 4 yr. old seems to come down with everything and I will only give him over the counter stuff when he has a very high fever. If only he was old enough for the neti pot!!! (which is the best thing, by the way). It is so good to know that there are other things out there (and common things, too) that will make him feel better instead of leaving him miserable!

  16. Something I have done with the humble onion is Chopped some up and gently heated it in olive oil…then strain and use the resulting oil as ear drops for an earache in my children…it has been amazing…it really works! (Just be sure it is not too hot when you administer it).
    .-= Camille´s last blog ..Hamburger Soup =-.

    1. @Camille, I do this with garlic- that works too. About onions- my mom told me that my grandfather used to eat raw onion every day to stave off colds. It must have worked if he kept doing it. And I forget…when I need it. Battling a mild sore throat- I gargle with salt water and add a couple of tsp. of organic apple cider vinegar to a small glass of juice a couple of times a day. I actually got up at 3:30 this morning to do both, and it’s much better already!

  17. I just wanted to say thanks for all the wonderful posts on herbs and natural healing… I hate having to buy store medicine to heal my husbands cough (and he hates taking it), and so I rarely do buy it. I always feel bad trying things to help him wait it out, but this makes me so excited to try! Plus I am about to have a new little one in our house in about three months so I love being able to stock up the knowledge for natural remedies before I actually need to use them! Thanks again for all the blessings of your sight. This is truly a great ministry the Lord has gifted you with. 🙂

  18. It’s 2am and I’m considering going into the kitchen and making this cough syrup right now (and I happen to have cloves and ginger on hand to add to it). I have been up (actually haven’t even been to bed yet) with a 3y/o who has a cold and cannot stop coughing no matter what we do. We’ve tried teaspoons of raw honey – which usually works- and our other herbal cough syrups and even rubbing his chest with Vicks and nothing is helping.
    .-= Laura V.´s last blog ..It’s a girl thing! =-.

  19. My sister-in-law gave me a copy of this book last year but for whatever reason I never did more than flip through it. Then just the other week she was telling me about the homemade cough syrup she made with onions and honey. I guess it’s time for me to pull out my copy and do a little reading!

  20. Hi just wondering, how long would this last for do you think? Like if you were using it over a week or two would it last that long?

    1. @Melissa V, Ours has lasted for about 5 days, but that’s with two of us having it multiple times each day (and I take the full Tbsp, compared to only a tsp. for my daughter, plus my son wants in on the fun so I give him a very small spoonful just because :)). But I’m sure it would be fine if you had it over the course of a week or two. It’s primarily still honey, just with the medicinal components from the herbs steeped into it, so there’s not really much in it to go bad. Just be sure to keep it in the fridge.

  21. What a wonderful find. My daughter woke up a few days ago with a chesty cough & no other remedies have worked. Honey doesn’t do a darn thing. So, today has been a smelly day around our house with onions everywhere. I even had her tote around a baggie full of big chunks of onions to the farmers market and grocery story today. Poor thing reeked but I’m willing to try anything. She’s sleeping with a bowl next to her bed (& the baggie under her pillow, open) so we’ll see what happens when she wakes. Thank you for sharing. I’m going to look into the book now!
    .-= Gina´s last blog ..So Much To Be Thankful For =-.

  22. Thanks for a great recipe and suggestions. Will definately be trying the onion by the bed trick and a natural remedy during this cold season is great as I am 9 months pregnant. I’ll be concocting a batch this week with cloves and ginger.

    I did want to point out that as one of the suggested ingredients is Comfrey, I’ve found that there is very conflicting information on the safety of taking Comfrey internally. While it is a very effective healer (is part of a natural remedy I’ve used for my eczema – works fabulously) so much information points to Comfrey causing issues with the liver. I don’t know if you’ve received the same information but I worry about including it in an internal remedy, especially if given to children. Your thoughts?

    1. @Margaret, Yes, I have come across a few conflicting things about using Comfrey internally. So far, though, most of what I’ve read suggests that Comfrey is ok to take internally so I’ve been using it that way. The other things I’d read didn’t give me any substantial reasons why it might not be a good idea, but I hadn’t read anything about the liver. I’ll look into that more. Thanks for the comment!

  23. Can’t wait to try this on my coughing 5 yr old. Thanks for sharing.

    Another use for the onion that I have used in the past is on insect stings. If you take a slice of fresh onion and lay it on a bee or wasp sting it will stop the pain and reduce the swelling completely. My 5 yr ols son was stung by a wasp this summer and was screaming about how bad it hurt. I remembered the onion and grabbed a slice and put it on. He almost immediately said it felt better and stopped screaming. Had him hold it on for a few minutes and you could barely see the little red dot from where the wasp stung him.

    I also heard a herbalist speak about onions once and she recommended onion juice for just about everything. Onions are so awesome!!

    Thanks again!

  24. I am assuming that frozen onion I have would NOT be recommended for the recipe? That’s all I have right now and I’d love to try it on my son today. Not feeling brave enough to get out to the store with him recovering still from a cold…


  25. I really do think that onions in the room help. I have read that onions absorb things, and they can absorb the virus even. I don’t know. I just know that I seem to get better quicker when I have onions in the room, and when I eat them.

  26. I remember my grandmother putting cut onion halves in her socks at night when she had a fever. The next morning, her fever would be gone completely and the onions cooked!
    .-= heather harris´s last blog ..Winston Churchill-review =-.

  27. When I was a child, whenever we had a cough, Mom would chop up an onion and put it in a bowl right beside our beds. To this day, the smell of raw, chopped onion makes me think of having a cold.
    .-= Mrs. Gryphon´s last blog ..Hello world! =-.

  28. My late husband and I were in full-time church music ministry all of or life and, being vocalists, it was very important for us to fight off a cold, sore throats, laryngitis, that achy body feeling, etc.
    My mom’s “family recipe” of sautéeing several onions in vegetable oil and a little bit of salted butter [for flavor], sprinkling pepper and vegetable or sea salt and keeping them a’cookin’ until the onions were past the clear stage and almost toward crunchy, but not quite there. She [and I] would serve as much as could be placed on dry toast and have the patient eat it just before bed. Dress up warm and sweat it out during the night.
    AMAZING that, by morning, all the symptoms would be gone or almost gone depending the severity of the condition.

  29. Read more . . .

    FORGOT TO ADD… crushed garlic in the mix of my mom’s “Family Recipe” for fighting colds, body aches, etc., etc.

    ; )

  30. My grandmother used to eat onions like apples. Now I know why she never had so much as a cold! I wish I’d read this info a week ago. A dear friend has been suffering all week long with the worst cold/cough that I’ve ever known her to have. I’m going to call her and tell her to put a dish of onion on her bedside table pronto!

  31. This is my favorite herb book! One of the main reasons is that most of the herbs are easily acquired, which is important when I’m trying to help my kids who live in other states and need to find immediate relief from some ailment. I have used an onion poultice when we have had bronchial/chest congestion. It is very effective. Onions are wonderful things!

  32. Thank you so much for the wonderful info! My girls are recovering from a virus but can’t seem to shake their cough and I am all plugged up! Going to chop an onion now to put by their bed and definitely making the syrup tomorrow!!!!

  33. Just made up a batch of the syrup. My little 1 year old has a horrible cough. Was very worried about what it would taste like, because of the onion, but it actually tastes really good. I have a bit of an onion taste in my mouth now, 15 mins later but thats ok. My little girl has gone down for a nap now & I have yet to hear her coughing so it looks like it’s working. Thanks so much for posting this.

    Very interesting onion facts here. Love the comment about putting half an onion around the house to ward off illness. We are having very cold weather at the moment which is very unusual for here. It’s snowing & we rarely, if ever, get snow and it never snows in November (usually February/March time) so illness is flying around. Must give the onion trick a go:)

  34. I’ve used a cut onion on a painful burn before and it is just amazing how the pain dissapears instantly when nothing else would ease the discomfort. After a few minutes when the onion juice started to dry I would just slice a little more off the vegetable and reapply!

  35. Growing up in Philly in the 70’s, anytime my siblings or I had a fever, my dad would cut an onion in half and put them in the bottom of socks whenever we had a fever. Of course we’d be laying in bed, the socks would just hold the cut side against the soles of our feet. He swore this reduced our fever every time. Today I will be making the cough syrup for my youngest and I am going to make a batch of the Cold Kicker from Keeper Of The Home.
    Thanks for what you do!

  36. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe on my blog hop. I hope to hear from you again. Send your friends over for next Monday’s feature in the series. Happy blogging!

  37. Yes. We have used steamed onions for pneumonia in my oldest son when he was less than a year. He was very lethargic and my midwife suggested it. We steamed them and lay them between some tea towels on his chest. He just soaked it up and yes it helped draw the yuck out. Recently, the same son, who is now twelve had a nasty cough that would not let go so we used it again. He wasn’t too fond of the smell but he asked for it again the next night. I asked him if he thought it helped and he said that he slept very well and that he did feel better. Also, that the warmth on his chest was very soothing. I saved them in a baggy and reused them for the second night and still got the results. Highly recommend it. Also, can’t wait to use the cough syrup recipe. Thank you.

  38. the reason for the onion working is probably because it contains quercetin, a flavinoid. Last year I developed a severe breathing problem at night. Not wanting to go to the doctor and be diagnosed with allergies and or asthma and be told I must take a pharmaceutical for the rest of my life which would have very bad side effects I searched on line for something natural. One night I was up very late searching on line and found something about quercetin. That night I could hardly breath and was almost going to go to the hospital but I dedided to wait and get some the next day. I took 3 a day at intervals of about 6 to 8 hours. Long story short, after months of no sleep, getting up numerous times having to cought up mucus before I could go back to sleep…. by the end of the first bottle and the end of one month I was 99% symptom free and remained so as long as I kept the level up. Natural means take a while to work because it needs to build up in your body. As long as I kept taking 3 a day it worked until the late fall and then I was able to stop, but now spring is here again and I just started taking them again. I hope this helps anyone who suffers from allergies. Here is the science behind it. Quercetin is a flavinoid related to vitamin c that was discovered in the 1800’s. In your body there are mast cells that leak histamines into your bloodstream when you encounter something you are alergic to, and you get a reaction. Quercetin inhibits the mast cells from leaking those histamines. I tried over the counter anti histamines but they didn’t work well and they are also chemicals are not good for you. Besides quercetin is cheaper it cost me around $15 for a bottle that lasted me a month.

  39. I know this is an old post, but I had to mention a remedy that worked for my 3 yr old recently. She came down with what I assume was an ear infection- she was crying unconsolably with ear pain. Some natural drops I had weren’t working very well. I had heard onion oil or onion juice works well for ear infections. I simmered chopped onion in olive oil, then put a few drops of the warm oil in her ear. After doing this several times over the course of the day, she said her ear did not hurt. She woke up the next day with no ear pain. I continued onion oil drops for a couple more days to make sure the infection went away. Amazing! So much better than running for antibiotics! 🙂
    I have some of this cough syrup on the stove right now- going to try it on my son who is coughing with a runny nose. Thanks!

  40. I just made a link in my blog to this article. Is that okay? I am fairly new to blogging (writing them anyway) and I have never linked another site to my blog and wanted to make sure I was doing something that was allowed! 🙂 I LOVE this post of yours and am so thankful for all the blessings you provide through your blog!

  41. Hi Stephanie!

    This is an amazing home remedy! Would you mind sharing it on Wildcrafting Wednesday? I’m sure my readers would love it!

    ~ Kathy

  42. You dont have to wear them around your neck. Onions work very well in bowls around your house because they absorb toxins, bacteria and viruses and you dont even have to cut them. That is why you should not put a cut onion in your fridge to use later though because it absorbs all that stuff from the fridge too!!! They are good for keeping away bugs too just like garlic but the smell doesn’t come through your skin like garlic does. I love my onions!!!

    1. This is very interesting. So, I store my onions just out in the open. Does that mean if you store them in a bowl in the open, and they are sucking in a bunch of toxins and stuff from the air, that then I shouldn’t use them in meal prep later? Or are they still food worthy?

      1. RG I think if they still have the skin on they should be fine. I believe it’s the gases that help and I think you probably do have to cut them to get the best benefit, as that releases the gas and opens up the pores/cells of the onion much more. 🙂

  43. I have been in bed with fle for the 10 days and still have to deal with the coughing and i am ready to try the recipe with the onion. Thank you so much for sharing with others.

  44. Great recipe, I use the honey and ginger syrup here, have never tried to add onion. If you wish for something stronger, try Grapefruit Seed extract. Read more about it here http://www.pureliquidgold.com. Kills over 800 microbes! Love to share this mommy’s treasure. 🙂

  45. I just made this last night for a cough that won’t seem to go away, especially at night. The gelatinous texture is really strange! The onion smell wasn’t very pleasant either, but I’m open to weird experiences. 🙂 For the first few hours of the night it didn’t seem to be working. I put a tiny cup of it by the bed and would take a little sip whenever I had a coughing fit. I was up coughing for several hours. But by 2 AM or so, I was sleeping soundly. Not sure if it was chance, or the syrup! I also put a cut up onion by the bed. So hopefully whatever I have will be gone soon!! Thanks for the recipe. 🙂

  46. Have you ever considered canning your cough syrup and making it shelf-stable? Just curious. 🙂 Would high heat from pressure canning render the ingredient ineffective or would it be okay?

    1. @Oney, I haven’t thought of canning it, actually. I like the idea of being able to store it for a long time, but I do think that it would reduce the effectiveness. Mainly because it’s supposed to be simmered at a low temperature, which helps to keep the active ingredients in the raw honey and the onions, well, active.

  47. do you think adding a little lemon juice would help at all? I know we have used honey for coughs and I’ve heard adding a little honey is suppose to help. Wondering if it would effect any of the other herbs in this?

  48. I am so thankful that I found your blog! I have a 4 year old who had tonsils and adenoids removed a week ago, and had since gotten a terrible cough. I am uneasy about giving him the pain meds the doctor perscribed and he plainly refuses them as well. So I am searching for ideas to ease his cough and just now went and put that onion next to him. I hope that we can all sleep tonight 🙂
    I am looking forward to your future blogs! Thanks a million!

  49. Hi,

    I think that this is a lovely recipe and I look forward to creating it soon, however, in all of my studies about herbs and their usefulness (only 3 years, so I’m not even close to the author of the book in experience) I have always found warning when dealing with Comfrey, that it shouldn’t be used internally due to the fact that it has been known to cause VOD which leads to liver toxicity (USDA also offers this warning along with a more detailed explanation). Did the author offer any comments about this in her book? I suppose 2 tablespoons doesn’t seem like much but when it comes to herbs that can sometimes be a very large amount.

    Still, I’d like to try making this with slippery elm and ginger!

  50. Do you have a recipe without honey?

    The suggar even natural decrease your immune system so when you’re sick I think isn’t the best idéa … any other suggestio?

    1. The sugar that is naturally found in the honey does not decrease your immune system. The amazing benefits of honey cannot be completely understood or even accounted for, but what we do know is enough to take it! Scientists can go only so far as to understand the benefits of raw honey (raw honey: has not been cooked at all, some say above 105 degrees, but I would say not at all, which is how we buy it, and most importantly, local honey). 🙂

      1. I meant to mention that if you wanted another suggestion, you can do this same mixture in 100% natural vegetable glycerin. It is used in most children’s glycerite mixtures. We use glycerin to make children’s herbal syrups over honey because it is more effective. It is naturally sweet, and you can heat it higher than honey, thereby getting more of the herbal properties out of the herbs.
        Hope this is helpful!

        1. Actually, if you use MANUKA honey instead of, say, clover honey, the effects should be tenfold because of how much bacteria manuka is known to kill.

  51. I haven’t read anyone else’s posts, so this may have been mentioned already. You can put a sliver of onion in the ear cavity (not in the ear hole) for ear infections. The fumes go right into the ear and heal the infection, as well as relieve pain pretty quickly. We do this with garlic all the time, but I know you can do it with a small cut of onion also, cut- side facing the ear hole. Works every time 🙂 God’s blessings to you all!

    1. I might mention again that you sit the onion or clove of garlic in the ear like a hearing aid, not in the actual ear hole. 🙂

    2. This is actually really popular to do too: heat up coconut oil with fresh chopped onion and ginger, let simmer, strain, and then put a few drops into each ear.

  52. I use onions to break up a tight cough or congestion overnight. This is my remedy: cut an onion in thick slices and cover the sole of the feet with the raw slices. Wrap with plastic wrap and put socks over it to help keep it on. The kids sleep with the onions on all night and by morning the cough is loose and breaks up easily. When removed the onions look cooked. A few night’s application and it will be gone. Warning: this stinks up a whole room, bedding etc! 🙂

  53. Thanks for this recipe! We used it for my daughter a few weeks ago and it totally got all the gunk up!

    I am wondering – can I use it for my 18 month old?


      1. It’s children under 1 that shouldn’t have honey for risk of botulism (which is actually extremely rare).

        I too have an 18 month old and wonder if this is ok. I would imagine it is since it’s all natural, but I might run it by a dr. or check the herbs first.

        1. Yes, this is fine to use for young children over the age of 1. For children under 1, you can use food grade vegetable glycerin. Not quite as good as raw honey, but still effective and not at all dangerous. Also, if the kids don’t like the taste, just use the honey or glycerin with the other herbs and add a bit of cinnamon. Out rates great and really works! My 2 and 3 year old boys love it and it’s healthy anytime, not just during colds. We sometimes spread it on toast!

          1. Oops…I meant to say “if the kids don’t like the taste [of the onion]” and “[it tastes great] and really works”.

  54. Hi, My son has cough more or less every week cropping back, I donot want to medicate him much, just read your blog, will try it today, thx.

    Rashmi R

  55. This is an excellent recipe – it reminds me of one my mother-in-law used to give us when we were first married. I’ve often regretted not getting the recipe from her before she passed away.

    It also made me think of our trip to the dentist a couple of weeks ago – I mentioned that we seemed to be having more coughs and colds than usual this year, despite all our best efforts, and he suggested we start using a natural toothpaste – he said to try Dr. Nate’s Naturals, because it has xylitol. Apparently the xylitol is better at removing bacteria from the mouth and keeping it out, which can reduce the amount of colds you get. It’s too early to tell if it’s working, but it seemed to make sense to me…

    1. I keep it in a cupboard, rather than the fridge, so the honey doesn’t get too hard to pour easily. It keeps at least several weeks, although we often go through a jar in the course of a sickness, especially if more than one person in the house is sick.

  56. When I was a young child Many years ago—my grandmother used onions for my sisters and I for cough syrup. I have told my grown children of it and they too have put it to good use. It does work and it works well. Thank you for sharing. Pat

  57. Oinion, sugar,.and water….. This is s mixture my grandmother used to help suppress my uncontrollable coughing when nothing else seemed to help. It doesn’t taste good, but it sure helped.

  58. I have recently gained a desire to make more home made products. I am glad to have stumbled across your site. My father-in-law has a persisting cough. I am hoping that this will help sooth and heal him. Thanks for sharing!

  59. Thank you for this. I have had great success with a recipe from a book called, “Do it Gorgeously,” I believe. It also has raw honey, and the rest are herbs. It is a fantastic decongestant and tastes like bitter tea with honey. Much better than store bought cough syrup and no side effects! If it’s a dry cough I have a recipe from the same book that calls for marshmellow root.

    I love that we can bring true relief to our bodies without wondering about the chemicals’ effects.

  60. I have just learned great tips so i wanted to share. So if you have a cough using garlic oil on your feet can really help. I have been told you can use on yourchest also. Making it is really easy. You need 6 cloves of garlic, in a glass jar top with olive oil, enough to cover the garluc. Let sit one hour min. The longer the stronger. Garlic can be hot so puton slowly. Put on socks and go to bed. Garlic is antibacterial,, antimicrobial and good for the lungs.

  61. I was wondering if the book had a recipe for nauseousness.

    I live in a foreign country and when I get nauseous, I drink a little medicine bottle they sell here. It’s a miracle and I feel better within minutes every single time! The locals tell me it’s peppermint oil, but you can’t always trust the translations here.

    Does this book have anything for it? b/c I’d really like to make it on my own. Thank you!

    1. I have had chronic stomach problems for most of my life. I now use peppermint for nausea and stomach aches. It is the best thing I have found anywhwere, and I make my own. I fill a mason jar up with dried peppermint, and cover it with 80 proof vodka; let it sit for four weeks, shaking it everyday, then strain and squeeze. I take a tsp of it when needed and i love it. I have also used olive oil instead of the vodka, but i prefer the vodka personally!

      1. Hi Katie,
        Do you have any suggestions to speed up the process? I am sick now! I have in the last few years take Jack Daniels, 5 peppermints, 2 aspirin, and the juice of one lemon. Mixed all in a small jar, shaking until the peppermints melt and used as a cough medicine. It works for us, but we aren’t drinkers so I think any alcohol would probably work. 🙂

  62. I made and used this and it worked great–turned a stubborn cough into a productive one and a day after that it was nearly gone!

    Doesn’t taste very good though.

  63. My grandmother would fry onions and put them in a wool sock or glove and tie it around my brother’s neck when he was little for congestion. Never have tried it, but my mom said it worked for him.

  64. Hi! Thanks for this post! I was so excited to try it, but I don’t know how to strain it! I made it, and it never thinned out enough that I could strain it. It was a gelatinous blob the whole time! At the end, it actually tasted good; the clove and honey were sweet and overpowered the strong onion. But I knew the kids wouldn’t take it with all the chunks, and I didn’t care for it with the chunks either. So I decided to blend it all together, and that was HORRIBLE! So nasty, lol. What did you use to strain it? I would love to try again. Thanks!

    1. My old friend, slippery elm! I have become very familiar with its properties over the years.
      Slippery elm must be whipped in cold water, then heated slowly, with or without other ingredients…like flour or arrowroot, etc. it needs a little coaxing not to clump.

  65. My daughter has a chronic cough. It’s been over a month. The doctor gives me constantly gives me an antibiotic for pnuemonia to get rid of the cough becuz they don’t want giving her (4 year old) cough medicine. So I’m on my way to the store to get some onions, garlic, lemons and the rest of the stuff I read in many comments. Some was not clear to me becuz some who wrote the ingredient was cutting corners but for he most part, I understood the onion and garlic remedy. i will have to read he other comment to determine what they meant. So it’s 8:30 am exactly in the morning, Friday and i’m on my way to the store wish me God’s speed…lol

  66. I read once that whenever someone in the home is sick to cut an onion in half and place them close to whomever is ill. The onion will suck up any germs that are in the air. The onion will actually start turning black from the germs.

  67. Great recipe I will try it next time. I have used cut up onion and put it in the night by my baby’s head who was extremely congested. I don’t remember if it worked, it was pretty severe but my husband did’t like our bedroom smelling like onion. This last cough attack on our family I blended honey, purple onion and garlic and have my children take one spoonful. Of course they didn’t like it specially as it sits in the fridge and concentrates on the strong onion garlic flavor. I could barely take it, but it worked quickly for me and them. I do prefer something that they can take without a battle over it.

  68. I tried this last night and wasn’t expecting much. Let me say that I am nothing short of blown away! Not only did the coughing stop, so did the nasal congestion. Last night was the first night in a few weeks that I really slept! When I made it, I accidentally added water, so it is a bit liquid but still works very well. As an addition, I added one quartered lemon. This works as well as the narcotic RX I had been using. Thank you so much for posting this!!!!!!!

  69. My Grandmother made this for me, 40 years ago! In a covered pan, barely simmer a large chopped onion in very little water with a lot of honey for 20 min. All her pans were enamel covered cast iron. You want the onions to release the juices but not cook it away. Cool and strain the chunks out. Store in a glass jar, with a lid, but in the cupboard, not the fridge. However, most kids hate onions, so, instead of putting it on a spoon and forcing yourself (or a child) to swallow something that tastes this bad, make it into a yummy tea by adding lemon and more honey or even sugar to the individual tea cup. I, to this day, hate onions; raw ones burn my stomach and I never keep onions in my house. However, if I get a cough or congestion, I crave simmered onion tea with lemon and honey. Thanks grandma. BTW, works like a miracle!

  70. I have a recipe for an expectorant cough syrup that never fails.
    A Mexican Cough Tea
    6 cups water
    1 orange peel
    2 tablespoon whole oregano
    2 tablespoon whole cloves
    2 whole cinnamon sticks
    4 garlic cloves
    sweeten with honey
    Boil : orange peel, spices and garlic for 15 minutes
    pass the tea through a mesh colander and sweeten with honey.

    The spices lossen the mucus and the oregano is an expectorant. The garlic has antibiotic properties, the citrus peel is soothing to the chest .
    Drink 1 cup 4- 6 times a day the first day and then 3- 4 times a day the first day. Then as needed. It will make you cough up the phlem and it is safe for kids too. My family all swears by it and I share this recipe with all the parents of my first grade class each year!

  71. I hope everyone knows that honey can harm under 1 year old babies (BOTULISM).
    NEVER: cough syrup, aspirin, honey to a baby!

  72. I know chopping an onion will clear the sinuses…as long as its a stout one. I had sinusitis/cold and I was preparing dinner and chopped an onion and it was very strong—it teared up my eyes and made the nose run, well it clear all that up! I was very surprised. Now I’m looking for a good cough syrup.

  73. I have not tried this yet. But a LONG time ago was told about using a warm damp towel with cut up garlic and onion on the chest.

  74. It’s 230am and this is the third night in a row my daughter is up with a persistent cough. Cutting the onion now to see if that will start to help and will see about making the recipe tomorrow. Ready for both of us to have a good nights sleep…

  75. Onions work great to take the poison out of a bee, wasp, or fire ant bite. They take down the swelling too. Just place a slice of onion over the bite and tape it on with a bandaid. You’ll see and feel the effect right away.

  76. Can I say I love homespun cold remedies??? Cut onion in half, open face up. Heap with sugar. Seal in container and leave out on counter for a couple hours. The sugar leeches out all liquid from onion and it pools on bottom of. Bowl. Spoon the sugary onion juice down back of throat.cuts mucous nealy in half. Keep doing every hour, especially before bed. Cough usually gone the next day!

  77. I have read about old timers putting a cut onion on a saucer in a sick room or in the common rooms if sickness is prevalent in the neighborhood. It is said to draw the germs to itself, keeping them from infecting people.

  78. I know of using onions on feet with a cold and putting on white socks (no dye) and sleeping that way all night. Next morning you feel better. Told this to school secretary and she said sure – my parents use to boil onions and we would drink the water and get to feeling well by the next day. Another person said sure – didn’t you know how to use onions? I said No and felt like I had been let out of a cave into the real world. Jennifer

  79. Great recipe. Im from the Dominican Republic where this recipe is very traditional and popular. Great for those who would rather pass on the conventional medicine…like my beloved Boyfriend.

  80. I am sorry to tell you this, but Comfrey is dangerous to the liver and should never be taken internally. It is wonderful for exterior applications in the form of poultices and creams, but NOT INTERNALLY. I just assumed everyone knew this by now.

  81. This is an awesome article! I’m getting ready to take a nurse-herbalist program. I’m not a nurse with huge degrees behind my name. I love essential oils, and everything natural. I really believe we need to educate others how to be healers in there home. To learn to take responsibility for own own health is a great place to start.

  82. My grandmother treated her children’s colds by baking a whole onion in the stove, straining the juice, adding honey to it (the juice), and offering the concoction on a teaspoon. She made a cough syrup by covering wild cherries with sugar and “steeping” it. Also, given by the tsp.

  83. Hi, I have been using the honey onion cough remedy for 5 years. After chemo I was left with a horrific cough. Fractured rib from coughing so much. Doc’s kept looking for respitory issues. I got fed up and went searching for a remedy. Oh my! I made it and almost instantly I slowed the cough and it went away, i have passed this remedy on to anyone that needs it. It is terrific. I make mine differently. I just put the onion in the glass jar and cover with honey. Let it sit for 24 hours on the counter. Discard the onion and that’s it. Works for me.

  84. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I can’t wait to make it tomorrow. My daughter has had a persistent cough for weeks and I hate using OTC medicines. What are your thoughts on adding slices of organic lemon?

  85. I’ll have to try the syrup! Thanks! As far as onions go, they’re great for helping ear infections too! Slice an onion in half, wrap it in a paper towel, place it in the microwave and cook it about a minute. Wait until it’s cool enough to place over the ear (without the paper towel.) There’s something in the onion that draws out the infection.

  86. I made this when you posted it before and it works great! I made my 2nd batch with slippery elm…I didn’t like that addition, as it was thick and sticky, hard to spoon out. Thanks for sharing!

  87. I heard about putting a cut onion in a bowl by a sick person, & it would draw impurities from the air, ie bacteria, viruses) Supposedly, that’s why you should never eat onion unless it’s freshly cut, b/c it starts absorbing the minute it’s cut, & over time can become quite toxic. Well, I was skeptical, but I was suffering a bad case of strep throat & cold, so I tried it. The next morning the pain was GONE!!!! Overnite, …. I was amazed!! My throat was so painful before. Now I am a believer!!

  88. I just had to stop by and tell you that this recipe rocks.. I’ve been giving this to my daughter lately and it is such a blessing.. I was earlier doing the honey-cinnamon mix that Katie K. of Kitchen Stewardship had recommended and while it still is great for dry coughs, this one is a miracle for the congestion coughs.. THANK YOU!

  89. Have you ever heard of Steven Buhner? He has an AMAZING book out that I am reading, it really goes in depth with herbs. Herbal Antibiotics, 2nd Edition: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-resistant Bacteria. Love this recipe! 🙂

  90. Check out Rosemary Gladstar she is amazing. Her recepie only calls for the honey/onion with optional garlic, but I’m sure we can’t go wrong with MORE herbs. Herbs are awesome! She also has a “gypsy cold care tea” using herbs, which has helped me kick a cold before it starts. Also, Learningherbs.com is a great resource for learning herbal remedies.

  91. My mother used to make a cough remedy on the spot. It was onion, brown sugar, and butter. She put the onion in a pan and cooked it very slowly in the butter, then added the brown sugar. She let this simmer together for a short while. I have no idea what the measurements were, but I’m thinking it was equal parts of each. It worked when I was a child and would get what we called “coughing jags.”

  92. Is the end result a liquid even after it cools? I made this today and wanted to make sure I didn’t cook it too long! Thanks!

      1. Is that suppose to be a total of 2TBSP of all the herbs combine or no more than 2TBSP of each individual herb

  93. I think I am going to try to put onion in th kids room tonight. I am also running the humidifier. I hope that helps!!

  94. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe! I’m looking forward to using this in my own home. I am curious though, does cooking the honey cause it to lose any of the nutrients that make raw honey so wonderful? I know it’s on low heat, but thought it may still get up above the temperature limit to where things are still considered ‘raw.’

  95. My 2 year-old has come down with a nasty cough today. I’m going to pick up some more honey while we’re in town today and give this a try. Poor little guy. 🙁 We have three and our oldest is 4 and this is the first bad cough we’ve dealt with.

  96. I like this option because one of my biggest pet peeves is the way they make cough syrup taste like candy for kids. It should be palatable, but not so palatable that my kid begs for it when she’s not sick like she does. I doubt she’ll be going for the onion honey like that… but it is comforting to know that even if she did sneak into it, she couldn’t OD on it! 🙂

  97. Regarding raw onion, I have been told several times by friends here in Germany that I should have my child sleep on an onion sachet for her ear infections/ear pain. Although we have yet to try it (can’t quite get past the smell part of it), it seems to be a well known folk remedy!

    1. Don’t like tears when peeling or chopping onions? When I am using onions I always peel it and leave the root end on the onion as I slice it. I never have tears or painful eyes. I learned this from my mom.

  98. If you want to stay healthy, place a whole unpeeled onion in a small glass dish close to your bed. It will last for a couple of months. Replace the onion when it starts to look bad and soft. I’ve been doing this for over 3 years, and haven’t had the flu or a cold in all this time. I’m 77, and have been around sick people, and it hasn’t bothered me.

  99. How can you keep your eyes from watering like a river around a cut onion? I would love to try this, but not sure I could deal with stinging, watering eyes.

  100. Last winter I made a simple onion cough syrup, I put sliced onions in a jar of brown sugar and kept it in the fridge, I let it make its own syrup and gave it to my family by the 1/2 tab. whenever someone felt a cold coming, We had fewer days being sick; it worked great.

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