DIY Herbal Honey Cough Drops

The flu season is upon us, and coughs are a-plenty.  People seek relief from cold and flu symptoms in various ways, including pharmaceuticals, and medicated candy such as Halls.  Halls, owned by Cadbury, is a leading supplier of cough candies.  Aside from the fact that they suppress coughs, they contain an unacceptable amount of chemicals.

Active  Ingredient: Menthol 9.4 mg Inactive  ingredients: acesulfame potassium, aspartame, beta carotene, FD&C blue no.  1, flavors, isomalt, sodium carboxymethylcellulose, soy lecithin, water (www.gethalls.com)

In one example, Halls peppermint variety, the only active ingredient is menthol.  The inactive ingredients are used for flavour, color and texture.  How many of them do you recognize?  How many of them do you recognize as ingredients you try to avoid in general?  None of the inactive ingredients are going to boost your immune system at a time when you need it the most.

Herbal honey cough drops are easy to make, use all natural ingredients, soothe your throat and cough, and give a natural boost to your body when it is fighting a virus.

Peppermint Oil:
Peppermint oil contains a large amount of naturally occurring menthol.  Menthol is used, among many other things, as an antipruritic to reduce itching, as a topical analgesic to relieve minor aches and pains, in decongestants for chest and sinuses, and to produce a cooling sensation.  These work together to soothe an itchy, sore throat and calm a cough.  Caution: menthol, in very large doses, can be lethal.  Peppermint oil can contain up to 55% menthol so it is important, as with any essential oil, to use only very small amounts of it.

When choosing a peppermint oil, make sure you choose a therapeutic grade oil from a company you trust.  Most essential oils are not therapeutic grade, are meant for aromatherapy and may contain ingredients you don’t want to consume.  Read the notes at the bottom to find a high-quality, therapeutic grade essential oil.

Honey:
Unpasteurized honey has antibacterial and antiviral properties, although some of these properties may be lost with the high heat needed to candy the honey.  Honey has been used over the years to soothe coughs, heal wounds and prevent bacterial infections.

Ginger:

Ginger is a natural immune booster and is used to help with congestion. It also contains antiviral properties and is a great natural cold and flu fighter.

Optional:

Cold and Flu teas: check the label of your tea to discover the benefits the herbs provide.

Materials:

  • Thick-bottomed pot
  • Silicone candy molds, parchment paper and/or greased cookie sheet
  • Candy or deep fry thermometer (must reach 300F)
  • Metal whisk

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. raw honey
  • 3 inches peeled, organic ginger root
  • 15 drops therapeutic grade peppermint essential oil (essential oil droppers are not standardized. Use common sense.)  Make sure your essential oil is therapeutic grade (food grade).  Not all essential oils are created equally.
  • Optional: herbal Cold and Flu-type teas: Echinacea and Roots Tea by Mountain Rose Herbs or Traditional Medicinals teas
  • powdered sugar for dipping in afterwards

Directions:

  1. Boil ginger root and tea in a pot with 2 cups of water.  Reduce “tea” to about 1/4 cup by simmering, on low.  Strain liquid.
  2. Heat honey and tea mixture in a thick-bottomed pot over medium heat.  It will try and boil over, so adjust temperature to keep if from boiling over.    Keep a thermometer in the pot to observe the temperature.  Stir constantly.
  3. Once the temperature passes 225F your water has entirely boiled out, and the honey mixture will rise in temperature rapidly.  Stir continuously to prevent scorching.  Continue to stir until temperature rises over 300F.  This is the temperature needed to “candy” the honey, and make it hard. Remove from heat.
  4. Wait a few minutes for the candy to start to cool (but not start to harden).  Add therapeutic grade peppermint oil.  It may smoke a little as the impurities burn off.  Stir rapidly.
  5. Pour immediately into candy molds or onto parchment paper that has been coated with powdered sugar or onto a greased cookie sheet.  Allow to cool completely.
  6. Once cooled, dust each candy with powdered sugar.  Wrap with parchment paper and store in a sealed container for up to a month. If you aren’t going to use them immediately, store in a sealed container in the freezer.

Tips:

  1. Whole New Mom demonstrates how to make powdered sugar from organic sugar to avoid GMO icing sugar.
  2. Most essential oils are NOT therapeutic grade and are meant to be used for fragrance instead of consumption.  Make sure the essential oil you are using is therapeutic grade.  Mountain Rose Herbs essential oils are high quality, organic and therapeutic-grade.
  3. Peppermint essential oil contains approximately 50% menthol.  Menthol, though naturally occurring, is toxic in large quantities.  Use common sense!!
  4. When adding the essential oil, don’t breathe in the steam.  It is a very strong menthol at first and may irritate your sinuses.
  5. Honey naturally absorbs moisture from the air.  Keep candies in an air-tight container to prevent them from “melting” and sticking together.
  6. Caution: Do not use when pregnant or on children under 2.  (based on warnings for peppermint and raw honey.)

This post has been shared on Homestead Barn Hop #95, Homestead Abundance Link-up #6Waste Not, Want Not Wednesday, Simple Living Wednesday, Wildcrafting Wednesday #72, Thank Your Body Thursday, Get Real Frugal Friday #3 and Fat Tuesday, January 22nd.