Wild Cherry Bark Cough Syrup

There's a reason that drug store cough syrup is red.

Because way back when people chose natural medicines and herbs over chemicals, some clever person (probably a woman) discovered the wonderful properties of the bark from a cherry tree to suppress and ease coughs and chest congestion.

But along the way, being the Americans we are, we heard the word "cherry" and thought it ought to be more of a maraschino cherry type of experience.  Someone probably got tired of peeling the bark off trees and going through the routine of making their own syrup.  So a big company got out their chemicals and their food dyes and their grain alcohol and made an inferior and lousy product, because we tend to go that way in our health care decisions.


Sassy's done preaching.  Here's how you make your own, for cheap, and for easy, and for health, and for taste.  You can get all the ingredients at either your health food store (if it's a bigger, good one), or you can order for MUCH LESS MONEY and support a SUPER FAMILY from:


Tell Nickole and Brian at Savvy Teas and Herbs that Sassy says hi.

If you want to make a glycerin-based cough syrup, great.  Your syrup will be ready in about 2 hours.  If you want to try an alcohol-based syrup, you'll need at least two weeks.  Alcohol (some say) extracts more out of the herbs.  But some prefer to skip that ingredient for their children or themselves for various reasons.

(Hint!  Make the glycerin-based syrup, and then for the grown ups, add a tablespoon of the syrup to an ounce of brandy before bed . . .)

Here's what you'll need and what it does.  Plan on about 2-4 tablespoons of each herb, depending on the amount of syrup you want.  And make sure you have a glass quart jar with a lid.

Wild cherry bark - it is an expectorant and has a very mild sedative property

Mullein - the herb of choice for respiratory problems (great herb for kids)

Licorice - has calming and stress relieving properties (cough spasms) and adds a pleasant flavor

Rose hips - high in vitamin C, and my "add to everything" herb for flavor

Orange peel - flavor, anti-inflammatory, more good vitamins

Nettle leaf - a great antihistamine, also anti-inflammatory

Vegetable glycerin - which you can get at some drug stores, most health food stores, or on line in many places - it extracts the properties from the herbs and has a nice sweet flavor


Vodka or rum - you know where to get this

Method A - Glycerin

In a wide mouth quart jar, add 2-4 tablespoons of each dried herb.  Add water just to moisten the herbs and then add glycerin to the jar, leaving an inch of space at the top.  Screw lid on tightly and place in a pot of simmering water, so the water reaches halfway up the jar.  Gently simmer for 2 hours.  Cool for 30 minutes, then strain into a pint jar, pressing the herbs to get all the goodness out.  Screw on the lid and it should last in a cool dark place for many weeks.  No refrigeration necessary.

Dosage:  One teaspoon as needed, 3-4 times per day, for either wet or dry coughs.  Honey may be added if the cougher prefers.

Method B - Alcohol

Fill jar as directed above.  Moisten with water.  Fill with vodka or rum.  Screw lid on tightly and shake.  Place in a cool dark cupboard and shake 2-3 times per day, for 2-3 weeks.  The longer it sits, the stronger the potency.  Strain and use as above.

One of my willing patients: