Cough Syrup for a Cold (HOREHOUND)

Black Currant Cough Syrup

I never intended to make this syrup but our refrigerator died. In the freezer were herbs (catnip, lemon balm, violet leaves, horehound etc.) that I keep on hand for emergencies. There was also 4 cups of red (not much) and black (lots)currant berries harvested from our bushes. I use black currant leaves often in my formulas. But I had no idea what to do with the fruit as they have a bit of a spicy taste (like juniper berries). So rather than waste all those ingredients I decided to see what I could make with them. I pretty much followed the recipe above except I cooked the berries first and pressed them through a sieve to remove the tough skins. Then I cooked the herbs in the juice. The result was a syrup the lovely color of red wine with a very strong taste. Probably not the best choice for kids but it really helped shorten my cold to two days while my husband’s cold went to his chest and lasted 12 days.

I had to do some deep digging to find some information about black currant berries. Herbalists have used them for sore throat, specifically with any hoarseness. In the past the juice was used as a treatment for whooping cough. The fruit is very high in Vitamin C.

A basic herbal syrup

  • Combine 1 ounce of herb and 1 quart of boiling water in a pan
  • Reduce heat and simmer until liquid amount is about 1 pint
  • Strain out the herb
  • Add one cup of honey, turn off heat and stir until honey dissolves
  • Bottle and store in the refrigerator
Marrubium vulgare

White horehound is a perennial plant in the mint family that grows easily on several continents. You will find it in gardens, dessert pastures, the wild, and wastelands. The entire plant is downy and has a silver “bloom”. The fibrous twisted root sends up several square shaped stems. Numerous leaves are opposite, petioled, round/ovate, wrinkled and soft underneath. Tiny with a pink/white two lipped flowers with a spiny calyx grow in axillary whorls in late summer. Prefers sun and well drained soil.

Marrubium has been used for healing since ancient times. It is a common ingredient in cough syrups and lozenges because it clears phlegm and prevents infection from moving into the lungs. It is thought to helps with bronchitis, laryngitis, hoarseness, sore throat, asthma, pneumonia, and a hacking cough. Historically this plant has bee used to treat fever, anemia, hepatitis, retained placenta, stomach issues, heart conditions. It balances bodily secretions and makes a bitter digestive tonic. It increases circulation (vasodilator) and sweating. Stimulates the production of bile and supports the liver.

Externally a serum can treat blackheads and rough/dry skin. Adds a healthy glow and moisture to the skin. As a poultice/compress it can be used on deep wounds, a rash or for shingles.

Taste: highly aromatic/pungent (volatile oils) and bitter. Requires a lot of sweetner to make it palatable.

Energetics:Moves energy, clears heat/cooling and toxins. Drying.

Element: Air

Contraindications: pregnancy. Excessive use may lead to hypertension. Fresh juice applied to the skin may cause a reaction. Large doses may act as a laxative.

This was the first year I made an effort to use syrups in our cold care plan. I am now a big fan and will use them in the future. What do you use that helps with cold symptoms?

Published by blackbirdsbackyard

My backyard botanical pharmacy is located in Boulder Colorado. I began studying herbal medicinewhen I was 12 years old. In college I studied subjects like anthropology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology, After graduation I decided to go to midwifery school. I attended births and had a small practice until I retired early in order to be a mother full time. I have always had an herb garden, gathered plants and made my own healing formulas with plants. Over the last 30 years there have been many teachers and I have attended dozens of workshops. I am one of those people who is always reading, studying and learning. In 2019 I was called to practice as an herbalist professionally, using "plant spirit medicine" and bio-energetic ( 5 element)healing techniques. I feel that there is a big need in the community for my skills and talents. I hope to inspire others to start their own backyard pharmacies as a solution to species extinction and the healthcare crisis in America. Healing has also become a spiritual practice and way for me to feel balanced and connected with nature. I consult with clients in person, teach classes (adults and kids), give tours of my garden and offer apprenticeships. Health, joy, meaning, and support are everyone's birthright.

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