There are two types of syrups used to treat coughs: Antitussives, which suppress coughing by preventing the reflex to cough, and expectorants, which help thin and loosen the mucus clogging up the bronchial passages.
Antitussives are prescribed to patients who frequently develop dry coughs that disrupt sleep and normal activity. Expectorants, on the other hand, are given to people with wet coughs, congested chests with little phlegm, and coughs that produce thick green, white, or yellow phlegm.
The kitchen contains many natural ingredients for making cough syrups. Apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, honey, lemon juice, white pineapple juice, and water have various properties that can soothe away coughs or even treat the underlying cause.
Some people customize their DIY cough syrups with medicinal herbs and wild edibles gathered from the forest or grown in herbal gardens. Examples of these helpful plants include chamomile flowers, echinacea, elderberry, garlic, ginger root, Korean mint, marshmallow root, mullein flowers, and peppermint. (Related: Prepping basics: DIY Elderberry remedies that can help prevent colds or the flu.)
To relieve coughs caused by sore throats, make this simple cough syrup:
Combine apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, honey, lemon juice, ginger, and water. Thoroughly mix the ingredients. Keep the mixture inside the refrigerator.
This formula works by coating a painful sore throat. The nutrients in it can also boost the immune system so it can fight off the infection.
Another effective DIY cough remedy is honey cough syrup. This syrup can alleviate frequent bouts of coughing. To make one, prepare a quart of filtered water, a quarter cup of lemon juice, one cup of honey, a quarter cup each of chamomile flowers, grated ginger root, and marshmallow root, and a tablespoon of cinnamon.
Put the herbs and water in a pan and heat until the mixture boils. Let it simmer until half of the water evaporates and pour the remainder through a strainer with a fine mesh. Add honey and lemon juice to the strained liquid. Stir thoroughly while it is still warm. The final product can last up to 60 days if stored in the refrigerator.
Traditional East Asian cuisine is the inspiration for this herbal DIY cough syrup. The ancient Chinese believed that a complete meal should provide all five flavors – bitter, spicy, salty, sour, and sweet.
The "Five Flavors" syrup embodies this concept. It uses four different ingredients to cover all of the flavors.
To prepare, mix together a quarter cup of dried elecampane (wild sunflower) root, half a cup of dried elderberries or a cup of the fresh fruit, a quarter cup of dried plantains or twice that amount if they are fresh, and two cups of water.
Heat the mixture until it boils then let it simmer for 20 minutes without covering. Strain using a cheesecloth.
Pour the remaining liquid -- measuring around half a cup -- in a clean pan then add the honey. Mix well. Warm the mixture if necessary.
When stored in the refrigerator, the Five Flavors cough syrup can last up to 30 days. It is not recommended for children below two years old. Children who meet the minimum age can take one teaspoon every hour, while adults can take two tablespoons.