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Over the years I have collected some tried and tested flu medicine to keep my family feeling good. While I love my garlic, raw honey, and elderberry, it’s nice to have some targeted remedies in the arsenal. This cough syrup made from wild cherry bark helps with persistent coughs, especially at night.
How to use wild cherry bark cough syrup
When you think of cough syrup, you think of red colored brews that taste artificially like cherries. Traditional cough syrup works by suppressing the cough but not correcting the problem. The trick is that there is more than one type of cough.
We can have a wet cough with a lot of phlegm. We can have a dry cough where nothing comes up. We can have coughing fits that lead to cramps so intense that your ribs ache. Different herbs help with different types of coughs.
My herbal cough syrup is a great all-round cough suppressant that I often use during the cold and flu seasons. However, this cough syrup made from wild cherry bark is particularly good for dry, hot, irritated coughs. Traditionally, it is used for whooping cough, chronic cough, pneumonia, and bronchitis.
Benefits of wild cherry bark cough syrup
Obtained from the inner bark of wild cherries, this herbal remedy has a variety of benefits. Wild cherry bark helps open the lower airways to move stuck mucus up and out as it dries. It has a calming effect that relieves coughing spasms that lead to sore throats. The calming and nerve-strengthening properties of the wild cherry make it useful for night coughs that make it difficult to fall asleep.
This herb cools to soothe sore, red, and inflamed tissue in the sinuses and throat. However, it is not only useful for the occasional cold. Wild cherry can help relieve symptoms of asthma, strengthen heart health, and improve digestion.
Mullein for scratchy throats
Perhaps you have already seen the mullein with its tall yellow flowers on the roadsides. Although the leaves look warm and fuzzy, they have tiny hairs that can irritate the tissue! However, when well strained, mullein leaf tea or syrup is great for coughing and sore throats.
Like the wild cherry bark, mullein helps us cough up mucus and soothes inflammation and cramps. Mullein is especially good for moving stuck congestion around and soothes wheezing and unproductive coughs. When there’s a lung problem, mullein is the herb to reach for.
A boost in vitamin C.
Vitamin C is (among other things) the key to a healthy immune system and skin. Some of the best sources are lemons, camu camu berries, and peppers. Rose hips are also very rich in vitamin C and have a tart, fruity taste. They help tone and tone tissues, fight free radical damage, and cool inflamed areas.
Hibiscus flowers are also rich in vitamin C with a tangy taste. Not only is hibiscus great for tea, it also gives hair a reddish tinge when used in natural hair dye. If you don’t have rose hips on hand, hibiscus will work too. Some herbalists advise against consuming hibiscus during pregnancy as there are some reports that it can stimulate the uterus.
Elderberry is super popular these days and you can find my personal elderberry syrup recipe here. In this cough syrup recipe, instead of stealing the show, the elderberry plays a minor role. Elderberry is antiviral and ideal for the flu season. A high content of vitamins A, B and C elderberry can shorten the duration and severity of the flu and even prevent it. I added it to my wild cherry bark cough syrup to give it an antiviral kick and even more berry flavor.
How to make the wild cherry bark cough syrup
Homemade cough syrup may seem intimidating, but the recipe is honestly simple. We basically make herbal tea and then stir in some raw honey. However, there are a few things to consider here.
Mullein leaves contain tiny hairs that can irritate the skin. Irritated tissues are the last thing we want when trying to soothe an already irritated throat! To avoid problems, strain the tea well with a cloth or paper coffee filter.
There is a lot of discussion in the herbal world about how best to use wild cherry bark. Some people simmer it to make syrup, while others insist on a cold infusion. After doing some research, I’ve come to the conclusion that simmering seems to work fine and was the easiest option here.
As mentioned earlier, hibiscus can be unsafe during pregnancy, but opinions are mixed. The doctor and herbalist Aviva Romm believes that hibiscus is safe during pregnancy. However, Dr. Romm wild cherry bark in her book for contraindicated during pregnancy Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health.
There does not appear to be any evidence of harm in humans from the use of cherry bark during pregnancy. However, some animal studies have shown a possible increased risk of harm that may or may not apply to humans. Other seasoned herbalists, including Dr. Sharol Tilgner and Jim McDonald see no concerns about the use of cherry bark during pregnancy.
So what’s the bottom line? The water is a bit cloudy here. So if you’re pregnant and want to play it safe, skip this recipe. In general, it’s very safe, even for the little ones. However, since we use raw honey, do not use the wild cherry bark cough syrup for infants under 1 year of age.
Cough syrup made from wild cherry bark
This cough syrup recipe is one to reach for when a dry, irritating cough occurs. Child-safe and tastes delicious!
Put the herbs and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the liquid is reduced to about 1 cup. This takes about 30-40 minutes.
Strain the herbs with a coffee filter and measure the liquid. Add enough water to reach 1 cup, or keep simmering until there is only 1 cup left.
As soon as the mixture is warm, but not piping hot, stir in the honey.
Dosage: Take one teaspoon as needed throughout the day, up to once an hour. Children can consume 1/2 teaspoon up to once an hour as needed.
Safety: Not for infants under 1 years of age. Consult your doctor before use if you are pregnant.
This article has been medically reviewed by Madiha Saeed, MD, Specialist in General Medicine. As always, this is not a personal medical advice and we encourage you to speak to your doctor.
How do you like to soothe a sore throat? Leave us a comment and be sure to share this post with a friend!
- McDonald, Jim. (ND). Wild cherry.
- Tilgner, S. (2009). Herbal medicine from the heart of the earth. Wise Acres LLC.
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