Cough cough sputter its cough season in our house. Both myself and my better half have caught a wee cough and so it was time to bring out the good old cough cures! In Celtic times it was thought that by passing someone under the belly of a white horse you might get rid of their coughing as the cough would pass to the animal, sadly we don’t have any white horses around so I figured its best to stick to the herbal remedies and this one is for herbal cough tea and cough drops for dry coughs.
There are different types of cough. There are dry coughs and then there are wet coughs, croup cough and whopping cough. I suppose also acid reflux coughs too amongst others. Both myself and my other half have the dry variety. Usually associated with colds or flu-like symptoms which are effecting the upper respiratory tract. Wet coughs are associated with lower respiratory infections or asthma and can be a sign that things are getting serious and perhaps time to see a Dr or a trained herbalist to assist in whats happening .It can become dangerous and you can head into pneumonia etc. However, it’s important to bear this in mind when creating herbal remedies as different herbs will do different things in terms of expectorating, moistening and drying actions of the formulations you use.
It’s also important to stay hydrated to help thin the mucous and breathe in cool moist air (not so hard to do in Scotland) as it helps to reduce the inflammation of the lungs.
The below recipe slightly suppresses the cough. As its dry there is no mucous to move out of the body. We don’t want to prevent the body doing what it does with other cough types but with this one we might want to. It stops that irritating late night coughing and helps to keep itself healed.
It can also help to clean the house to help prevent the spread of infection.
So I thought I would share the recipe with you here in case like me you have been attacked by the dreaded cough fairy.Without getting technical I simply made a tea of the following herbs that need to be taken as an infusion (a longer time in the water than a tea brew up to 15 mins or more.) I also used the same herbs and made them into cough sweets to be a little more easily portable a two for one post if you will.
Herbal Cough Tea – for dry coughs.
- 1pt Coltsfoot (Gaelic name clus liath)
- 1pt Mullein (Gaelic Lus mor or cuingeal-Muire )
- 1pt Ginger
- 1pt Cherry Bark
- 1/2 pt Marshmallow root
- 1pt Yarrow flowers (Gaelic name Earr-thalmhainn or bus chasgadh na fala)
- 2pts Spearmint. (Gaelic Meannt)
Simply blend together and use as needed. You might also add in some camomile flowers to add a slight attractive quality to the tea and a slight calming effect, but this is up to you. I realise that Ginger isn’t traditionally available wild in Scotland but its a nice addition. The spearmint should, however be diffuse enough to do the job without the ginger if you’re being a purist.
Herbal Cough drops.
Supposedly cough sweets were invented by apothecaries to hide the nasty taste of some herbal
preparations that were given to folks back in the day. I’m not a 100% sure of this but it’s a nice story. I have to admit, I have had many failed attempts at making hard sweets for coughs drops, they all started out coming out kinda gooey and not good for hard candy like status they needed! I stuck to the old world method of infusing herbs in vinegar and mixing them in honey for an oxymel (or as some folks like to call it a honey-ger). The oxymel approach is a lot better for you and keeps the active ingredients that might be destroyed by heat alive so that’s the best method and most healthy. You would just infuse the tea ingredients in apple cider vinegar and also leave garlic and onions in the honey to infuse for about 4- 6 weeks and then mix together, but again it’s not so transportable in a work bag or pocket
So until I used this fool-proof method I was kinda stuck with what I had. But I will share it with you below so you can give it a try and i hope it works out for you.
Herbal Cough Drops Recipe
- 1 cup of Honey/sugar
- 1/2 cup of cough tea infusion. (Add boiling water and leave a minimum of 20 mins, I also added in to the water 1/2 tsp of powdered cloves and some extra ginger and some rose hips to this batch).
- Candy thermometer (really useful as it will tell you the right temp but there’s an old-fashioned way that can help demonstrate it)
Once you have infused the cough tea for the right amount of time, strain out all the herbs pour this into a saucepan (that you don’t mind getting covered in hard sticky sugar and that may take a while to remove) with the 1 cup of Honey. You can use sugar at a push but honey is better but the heat will be killing off the majority of its healing properties so its more for taste than effect.
Bring the sugar-water mixture to the boil over a medium high heat and keep boiling it until it reaches 150 degrees centigrade (300 degrees Fahrenheit). If you don’t have the thermometer it should take around 30 mins and you can see when its ready by dropping the really hot molten sugar lava into an ice-cold glass of water. It should form a wee ball with a tail and not dissolve into the water very quickly. Also the mixture will start to foam and separate rather than boil. When this page is reached take it off the boil and start pouring into moulds.
I would recommend covering the silicon mould with a fine dusting of Slippery elm powder and icing sugar to help remove them easily.
Alternatively you can pour it onto a baking sheet and wait for it to cool enough to be able to be rolled into a long strip and then cut (all this has to happen very fast) into lozenge shapes with a sharp knife or scissors. You can then dust them again with slippery elm powder and keep ’em in a tin or jar once they are cooled off enough.
You’ll see from the picture above that I only had a space invaders silicon mould available, and you’ll also see some of the lozenge shaped drops too … I say use what ever works as long as it’s about a teaspoon of mixture in quantity and you can fit them in your mouth.
I hope this helps you all to manage your dry coughs. Oh I almost forgot, when you have a cold it’s also a chance to indulge in hot toddies!! (Whisky, hot water, honey and lemon). What you can do here instead of honey is dissolve one of your cough sweets in the hot water and then add in the whisky and lemon. Hmmmmmm so so tasty and really helps get you to sleep 🙂