Catching a cold wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the lingering after-effects. A few days of intense discomfort is one thing, but a long drawn-out month of protracted misery is quite another. And really, what I’m talking about here is the cough.

It’s the cough that begins just as you believe you’ve made to the other side of your illness; it no longer feels as though you’re swallowing razor blades when you eat or drink and you can almost smell again. But suddenly and at a time which is always the most inconvenient (think: the middle of the night, or in the midst of your child’s piano recital) you break into involuntary spasms that make your eyes water, your stomach hurt, and your lungs feel as though they are turning themselves inside out. Yes, the cough.

It’s difficult, in these moments, to remember that the cough is a helpful process; your body is trying to rid itself of harmful organisms and waste. If someone were to tell you that during one of your coughing fits, you might even like to punch them a philosophical outlook is all good and grand when you’re not gasping for air!

But just because a cough is a valuable process that shouldn’t be suppressed, doesn’t mean you can’t hurry the process along with some support. By support, I mean herbs and foods that help 1) thin mucous, making it easier for your body to expectorate (or cough up); 2) soothe bronchial spasms and irritated membranes and 3) cleanse the tissues with their antimicrobial effects. Fortunately, many of these herbs and foods are probably stocked in your fridge and kitchen cabinets already, so there’s no need to even leave the house. Here is an easy-to-make cough syrup recipe made with common kitchen herbs, honey, and a splash of brandy not to suppress your cough, remember, but just to give things a gentle a nudge forward.


Kitchen Cabinet Cough Syrup

Inspired by Rosemary Gladstar’s Honey-Onion Cough Syrup recipe.

Makes about 1 cup of syrup.


  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • handful of fresh thyme sprigs (2 tablespoons dried)
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary (1 tablespoon dried)
  • thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, sliced thinly
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon dried turmeric
  • 1 cup honey
  • cup brandy


  1. Place the onion in a saucepan or skillet over medium heat with a small splash of oil.
  2. Stir for a minute, letting them sizzle, and then add the herbs, ginger, garlic and turmeric.
  3. Give everything another good stir to ensure the onions are completely coated with the herb mixture and then remove from heat.
  4. Once the pan has cooled slightly (several minutes), drizzle the honey over the onion mixture.
  5. Stir to combine and then let the mixture sit for half an hour , covered, to let the ingredients infuse into the honey.
  6. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer or a funnel lined with muslin into a clean glass bottle. If the honey has begun to thicken, place your container into a hot water bath until the mixture is nice and runny.
  7. Add the brandy and shake well to incorporate.
  8. Store in the fridge and use within a week. Take by the spoonful or add to hot water with a squeeze of lemon

Writer Danielle Charles Davies has a BSc in Herbal Science from Bastyr University and in addition completed two years of clinical training at the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism. She has a Masters Degree in Writing and has written for the the American Herbalists Guild and has also served as a food columnist. Her musings, and recipes, can be found at her blog, Teacup Chronicles.

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.