Homemade Herbal Cough Lozenges


Some coughs loosen and help remove chest congestion. These coughs are often called “productive coughs” because the cough itself is crucial to recovering from the illness that’s causing the congestion. Other coughs are dry and nagging, either the result of a sore throat or eventually lead to a sore throat over time. Both types of coughs can benefit from a natural soothing remedy to help ease the irritation, but with the latter type, calming the cough will help greatly in preventing an irritated throat. When we can calm the cough by soothing the throat without suppressing it, we can help keep it from interfering with much needed rest.

Cough drops can help soothe and calm the cough. Homemade lozenges are a great alternative to store-bought drops that contain artificial dyes, sugar (or even worse – artificial sweeteners), and other unfamiliar ingredients. Making herbal lozenges at home will ensure that only what is needed is added and ingredients that are harmful and/or suppress the immune system, such as sugar, are left out.

There are many different recipes for homemade cough drops. My favorite recipe is a lozenge made from slippery elm bark. This recipe is so simple! I adapted it from the typical slippery elm/honey recipe by adding ground rose hips and lemon peel for vitamin C and a little tangy flavor.

Slippery elm bark is a great remedy for a cough or sore throat, among other things. It contains mucilage, a sticky gel-like substance that coats and soothes the lining of the throat, similar to honey’s ability to coat the throat. Raw honey also has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Rose hips and lemon peel are excellent sources of vitamin C, which helps boost the immune response to infection.


1/2 cup slippery elm bark powder
1/8 cup rose hips powder and/or lemon peel powder
1/3 cup raw, unfiltered honey (or enough to form a soft dough when mixed with the herbs)
Simply mix the ground herbs together, setting aside a small amount of the mixed powder, and add enough honey to form a soft dough. Shape into balls and roll into the extra powder. Press lightly in the middle to make oblong lozenges. (Balls are fine, too, but I think the oblong shape may be less of a choking hazard.) You can use them as is (They will harden slightly.) or you can bake them at 200-250° for about 30 minutes to an hour to harden even more. 

I’m not sure how long these keep. I prefer to make them up when illness strikes (They are so simple to make!) and store them for a week or two at a time. They may keep longer, especially if frozen. If you make a similar recipe and/or know how long they keep, I’d love to know!

Flavor…Some people like the taste and texture of slippery elm more than others. These won’t taste like the sweet and sugary lozenges you buy at the store, but they don’t taste bad, either. And remember, the goal of medicine, whether it’s a natural herbal remedy or a synthetic drug, is to help aid in the recovery of illness and is not meant to taste like candy. The last time I bough store-bought drops, my younger boys got into them and ate nearly a whole bag before anyone noticed…and they were put up and away. Medicine should taste pleasant, but should not mimic candy. 

This recipe, like many herbal remedies, is very flexible. There are a number of other herbs that can be used in this recipe, either in place of these herbs or in addition to them. Other herbs for soothing a cough include mullein, marshmallow, and horehound, to name a few. Echinacea can be added to boost the immune system. Chamomile or valerian can be included to induce sleep.

Do you make your own cough drops? If so, would you share your recipe? I’m always adjusting mine when I come across new ideas!

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