An Easy Herbal Respiratory Syrup To Calm Your Cough Quickly

An Easy Herbal Respiratory Syrup To Calm Your Cough Quickly | Growing Up Herbal | An herbal cough syrup for dry, hacking coughs from The Healing Kitchen.

My curiosity grew as I pulled the small cardboard strip from the package I’d just received in the mail. Not that I didn’t know what was in the package. I totally did. I’d been eagerly awaiting its arrival all week! As the package opened up, there it was. The small, hardback, white book I’d been waiting for.

I pulled it out and examined the cover. Soft and smooth. Clean in appearance with green lettering and a watercolor image of herbal greens gracing the front.

It was Holly Bellebuono’s newest book – The Healing Kitchen

My curiosity quickly turned to anticipation as I flipped through the pages of the book, scanning the endless herbal recipes just waiting to be made. 

As I flipped through the pages, scanning the recipes for what to try first, I caught glimpse of a simple looking herbal remedy. Now, I’m not sure if you’re like this or not, but I always like to check out tried and true herbal remedies from other herbalists even if I have my own favorite. I suppose it’s like a cook who’s been using her family’s secret cornbread recipe for years. No matter how great it is, she still has to see how others are making their cornbread. 

Anyway, I didn’t expect the first thing I made from this book to be an herbal remedy, but at the moment, this remedy was something I really needed.

An Easy Herbal Respiratory Syrup To Calm Your Cough Quickly | Growing Up Herbal | An herbal cough syrup for dry, hacking coughs from The Healing Kitchen.

Aye! That Constant Cough!

You see, my kids were coughing… a lot… especially, at night. And although I love my children very much, there’s only so much of that never-ending coughing a person can take! Not only does it make me feel crazy, but I imagine, it’s really annoying to them too. It keeps them awake, it makes their throat sore, and it probably irritates their nerves (like it does mine) after a while.

It seems like all the kids had these minor cold symptoms. If you had walked into my mother-in-law’s house on a Sunday afternoon when our whole family gets together, you’d have seen a ton of snotty nosed kids running around sharing their germs with each other! It’s just that time of the year. It’s cooled down quite a bit, which always seems to encourage viral infections more.

I wasn’t looking for something to boost their immune system (although that’s a great idea). We were already taking our elderberry syrup for that. Instead, what I was looking for was something to help calm that crazy cough down so my kids (and I) could get some quality sleep!

Great Respiratory Herbs To The Rescue (And A Sweet DIY Remedy Too!)

When I ran across Holly’s recipe called “Respiratory Syrup,” it immediately caught my attention.

It’s simple, easy-to-make, and contains great herbs, like mullein, that have an affinity for the respiratory system. The best thing was that I had everything I needed on hand so I could get started making this syrup right away. 

Now, before I share this recipe with you (with Holly’s permission, of course), I want to briefly tell you a bit about the herbs in the recipe so you can see just how great they are for supporting the respiratory system. Not only will knowing how these herbs work help you learn more about using herbs in general, but it will help you to know if this respiratory syrup is a good fit for the kind of cough your child has at the moment.

An Easy Herbal Respiratory Syrup To Calm Your Cough Quickly | Growing Up Herbal | An herbal cough syrup for dry, hacking coughs from The Healing Kitchen.


Mullein is a very well-known respiratory herb. It even goes by the name “lungwort” in some regions which fit perfectly with the herbal tradition of the Doctrine of Signatures. This tradition believes there is a connection between the plant’s appearance and the body part in can bring support to. When it comes to mullein, it’s leaves are covered with soft, fine hair. According to the Doctrine of Signatures, this is one way to know it’s useful for the lungs as they too are covered with tiny hair called cilia.

Besides its association with the lungs due to its appearance, mullein is considered a respiratory tonic. This means it brings overall strength and wellness to the respiratory system. It also has expectorant, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic actions, and is used with all sorts of respiratory conditions. Many herbalists give it to people who have a non-productive cough (the kind where you feel like you need to cough something up, but it just won’t come out) as well as coughing due to spasms where a large amount of inflammation may be present (the early Native Americans and many modern-day herbalists use it to support those with asthma and bronchitis).

Mullein is drunk as a tea or infusion, made into a syrup, taken as a tincture, and smoked or burned. 


Elecampane is another well-known respiratory herb used by Native Americans, herbalists of old, and in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda for issues centering around the lungs. It has expectorant and antitussive actions. It works well for conditions that lend themselves to thick mucus that gets stuck in the chest and sinuses. It also helps soothe irritated and inflamed tissues that are the result of continuous coughing thanks to its mucilage and volatile oil content. 

Elecampane is used as a tea, decoction, syrup, or tincture. 


Licorice root isn’t only used to flavor candy. It’s also used to support respiratory complaints or any inflamed condition that affects the mucous membranes. 

Licorice has demulcent, antispasmodic, expectorant, and anti-inflammatory actions. It’s often used for hot, dry, and unproductive coughs among other things. Not only does it soothe irritated tissues, but it helps to thin mucus so it can be coughed up easier. 

Licorice root is used similarly to elecampane in the form of a tea, decoction, syrup, or tincture.

Cautions: Licorice root is not recommended if you have heart diseases such as congestive heart failure or high blood pressure or for pregnant women.

Holly Bellebuono’s “Respiratory Syrup”

An Easy Herbal Respiratory Syrup To Calm Your Cough Quickly | Growing Up Herbal | An herbal cough syrup for dry, hacking coughs from The Healing Kitchen.

Now that you know how great the herbs in this remedy are, I’ll share the actual recipe with you so you can make it too! 

Respiratory Syrup



  1. Combine water and herbs in a small saucepan over low heat. 
  2. Bring water to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to low and simmer the mixture, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced by half (10-20 minutes).
  3. Strain herbs using a coffee filter or paper towel and compost. Reserve liquid in a bowl and allow to cool.
  4. When cooled, stir in honey. 
  5. Pour syrup into a glass jar, cap, and label.


1/2 teaspoon as needed


Store labeled syrup in the refrigerator. This syrup has a 50% sugar content so it should stay good anywhere from 3-6 months refrigerated.

An Easy Herbal Respiratory Syrup To Calm Your Cough Quickly | Growing Up Herbal | An herbal cough syrup for dry, hacking coughs from The Healing Kitchen.

My Kids Are Sleeping Much Better Now… And So Am I

Thanks to this book and recipe, my kids are sleeping much better now. Their coughs have slowed enough that I only hear it first thing in the morning when they wake up. They’re all sleeping soundly all night long, and that means I am too. And that, mama, is worth all the effort!

Get Your Copy Of The Healing Kitchen Today!

If you want to find some more amazing recipes from Holly and other seasoned herbalists, check out Holly’s new book, The Healing Kitchen. It’s packed full of herbal remedies and food recipes! These recipes use herbs to not only make foods taste better but to be healthier for your body as well.

Get an inside look at the book on Amazon, and order your copy today! I guarantee you won’t regret adding this one to your library!

26 thoughts on “An Easy Herbal Respiratory Syrup To Calm Your Cough Quickly”

    1. Hi, A.Marie! You’re welcome to talk about this post on your blog, but I’d ask that you not share the full recipe and directions, but instead direct your readers back to this post to get the entire thing. Thanks for understanding!

  1. Hi there! I’m new to the “growing up herbal” tribe as well as a first time momma. My baby girl is going on 14 months, are these natural remedies safe for younger babies/ children?
    Is this respiratory syrup helpful for adults as well or only for children?

    I would love to learn all I can to help my family grow up herbal. If you have any good starting points/tips/ suggestions please send them my way. Thank you so much!!

    1. This recipe is safe for all ages, but if your little one is less than a year old, you’d want to use maple syrup rather than honey. And, my guess is that this dose is recommended for an adult so you could decrease it to 1/4 teaspoon as often as needed for children. Hope that helps, Angelina.

  2. Carol@studiobotanica

    Super recipe Meagan. It’s a classic. I’ve been making it and similar for years.
    Love that Holly sharing it again. Such amazing herbs for this type of cough and
    who says a formula needs to be complicated? Misses Mullein, Ellie and that tasty licorice root!
    Thanks for the reminder ~ I need to go and see if I have any left! It’s time to get organized!

  3. Hi there. Great blog! Wondering how it tastes and where to find the ingredients besides amazon? I live in Portland, Oregon where there is a plethora of natural stores. Would this be found best in an asian medicine store or somewhere else as you mentioned a lot about native american medicine. Thanks!

    1. This syrup is actually fairly sweet thanks to the honey and the licorice. My kids like it and take it without any fussing. You can definitely find these herbs in most herbal stores too. Hope that helps! Thanks for your comment, Moriya!

  4. I have a question about the shelf life. I see you recommend 3-6 months. The book says 3 days though (as do most of her syrups without alcohol). Does it just start losing potency after 3 days? Thanks!

    1. I think she’s trying to be conservative with her shelf-life recommendations, Lisa. This particular syrup should last at least 3 months (if not more) with the amount of sugar called for. Adding alcohol to it will extend the shelf-life, though. And no, it shouldn’t loose potency in 3 days. It should last longer than that. Hope that answers your question!

  5. Hi Meagan, I make this syrup for my kids who do not have any reactions to a lot of herbs and they love it. My husband on the other hand has diabetes and high blood pressure. Though I just omit the licorice root and decrease alot of the honey, I was wondering if you would recommend any other herb (s) to replace the licorice. Thank you!

    1. Hey, Diana. If it were me, I’d replace the honey with vegetable glycerine (as it doesn’t affect your blood sugar at all), and I’d switch the licorice for anise seeds. They have a licorice-like flavor, but from my understanding, don’t have any contraindications for those with high blood pressure. And, they’re traditionally used in herbal cough remedies so they’d make an effective replacement. Hope this helps!

      1. Hello Megan you are correct on your assumptions . I am an RN and I highly recommend herbal over pharmacy medications when I can . It is a privilege to be able to use the gifts God has provided us as “natural cures” much healthier ! The “old ways “ as my grandfather told me . Very impressed with this THANK YOU from the Appalachian Trail Mountains in PA .

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  7. Will definitely try this recipe. Are you able to help me create an alcohol based version? I’m interested in extending the shelf life and not having to keep it in the refrigerator. Thanks ever so much!

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    1. If you want the demulcent properties of the mullein leaves, then yes, you would get more of those with a cold infusion. However, for coughs, in addition to the benefits of the mucilage, you’re also seeking the anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and expectorant properties that come from the other phytochemicals in the leaf and are best extracted via hot water. So, if you want to extract all that mullein has to offer, you could do an initial hot water infusion, and then when the water cools, you could add a wee bit more mullein to better extract the mucilage from the leaf. Great question! I hope this answer was helpful!

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