Health

Holistic home remedy: sore throat syrup recipe

Instead of reaching for a medicated throat lozenge, try this soothing home remedy of honey and onion syrup, created by naturopath and herbalist Sarah Coleman.

When your have a cough and your throat is dry and scratchy, you can be sure that your body is fighting off an infection. Naturopath and herbalist Sarah Coleman of The Kitchen Apothecary has a remedy for that - a soothing throat and cough syrup. The idea of combining honey and onion might initially make you recoil. But read on … the properties of these two ingredients - with the addition of anti-microbial herbs - have been used in traditional remedies for centuries, and Sarah explains to Citro the research that backs it up.

Written by Sarah Coleman

Honey as a medicine

The use of honey to treat coughs and sore throats can be traced back to Ancient Greece and the Vedic Period in India.

There are a number of scientific studies that examine the effectiveness of honey alone in treating coughs, especially in children. A recent meta-analysis “found that honey was effective in treating children above 12 months of age when used in the first 3 days of cough symptoms”.

One word of warning: honey should NOT be given to children under the age of 12 months, due to the risk of botulism.

In a systematic review and meta-analysis looking at honey’s effectiveness infor relieving symptoms in upper respiratory tract infections (URTI), researchers concluded that honey is likely effective in improving symptoms, especially in reducing cough frequency and severity. They said moderate evidence supports its use for other URTI symptoms, particularly in children.

The researchers go on to say that honey is a commonly used and well-known home remedy that is easily accessible, affordable, and generally safe. “Honey is more effective than usual care alternatives for improving URTI symptoms, particularly cough frequency and cough severity.”

Why add onion to the honey?

Onion has been used for thousands of years across all cultures as a herbal medicine. There is increasing scientific interest in the medicinal effects of onion on our respiratory system.

Onion has demonstrated antimicrobial activity as well as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-regulating effects.

Onions have certain properties that can help relieve a cough:

Expectorant: Onions contain sulphur compounds and quercetin, which can act as a natural expectorant. Expectorants help thin and loosen mucus in the respiratory tract, making it easier to cough up and clear the airways.

Antimicrobial: The presence of compounds like allicin and flavonoids may help combat bacteria and viruses that cause respiratory infections and contribute to coughing.

Anti-inflammatory: Onions contain anti-inflammatory compounds such as quercetin and kaempferol, which are shown to reduce inflammation in the airways. By reducing inflammation, onions may help alleviate coughing associated with irritated or swollen airways.

Soothing: Volatile compounds released by onions can have a soothing effect on the throat. Inhaling these compounds may help relieve irritation and suppress the cough reflex.

Immune system support: Onions are a good source of antioxidants and vitamin C, which can support the immune system.

Oh, and mixing honey and onion doesn’t taste as offensive as you might imagine - make the recipe and try it out.

Boost your sore throat syrup with herbs

You can also tailor your syrup for your own needs with these optional extra ingredients to enhance the health benefits and add flavour.
Here are some additional ingredients you can consider. Add them before you pour honey into the jar.

Anti-microbial herbs for when an infection is present:

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) – a handful, roughly chopped.

Sage (Salvia officinalis) – a handful, roughly chopped.

Garlic (Allium sativum) –  4-6 cloves, finely grated.

Pain-relieving anaesthetic herbs and plants:

Ginger (Zingiber officinale): finely chopped piece (about the size of your thumb)

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) & black pepper (Piper nigrum): one tablespoon of turmeric powder with half a teaspoon of finely ground black pepper (the piperine in the pepper makes the curcumin in turmeric more easily absorbed by your body).

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) root: one teaspoon of powdered root or two tablespoons of chopped root. Marshmallow (Althea officinalis) root: one teaspoon of powdered root or two tablespoons of chopped root.

Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum): add 10 bruised cloves (do not give clove oil to children)

The Kitchen Apothecary honey onion throat syrup recipe

A simple soothing onion honey cough syrup for minor coughs and upper respiratory tract infections. A recipe combining the soothing properties of onions and honey plus additional ingredients like ginger, thyme, and turmeric.

Ingredients for honey onion cough syrup recipe

1 medium-to-large onion (white onions seem to work best)

Raw local honey, enough to cover the onion

1 clean jar with lid to fit one medium-to-large chopped onion and be no more than 3/4 full

Method to make the honey onion throat syrup recipe

1. Peel the onion and roughly chop it into small pieces.

2. Place onion in the clean jar (also add optional extra ingredients now) then top with enough honey to cover. If your honey is too solid, very gently warm it until it starts to become liquid before adding it to the jar.

3. Leave to infuse in a cool place, out of direct sunlight, for 24 hours to up to 4 days. If the syrup becomes a little fizzy; it is just fermenting. As long as it does not smell unpleasant or "off" it is fine to consume. If you need to use it sooner, you can start skimming teaspoons from the top of the jar after 30 minutes of making it.

4. When infused, place a funnel on top of a clean jar with a sieve atop that. Strain the syrup into the jar, squashing the plant matter with the back of a spoon to make sure you get every last drop! Alternatively, you can leave the plant matter in the jar and consume it as well.

5. Label and store your cough syrup in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Dose: Adults take 1-2 teaspoons of the syrup as needed to soothe a cough. You can take it 3 to 6 times a day, half this amount for children under 10 years (not to be given to infants under one year of age). Sip the syrup gently from the spoon, allowing it to coat your throat. Try to swish some up and back to where the  your nasal passages drain into the back of your throat. Remember to stir or shake the syrup before each use

Would you try honey onion cough syrup next time you want to soothe a sore throat?


The information on this page is general information and should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Do not use the information found on this page as a substitute for professional health care advice. Any information you find on this page or on external sites which are linked to on this page should be verified with your professional health care provider.

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