By Stacy Karen, contributing writer
When a sore throat strikes, many of us reach for a throat lozenge to soothe the pain.
As you may have noticed, most store-bought throat lozenges or cough drops contain unpleasant ingredients, such as food colorings and preservatives. We don’t want these chemicals in our system at the best of times, and most definitely not when we are sick.
Thankfully, homemade cough drops are quite simple to make and only contain a few ingredients (all recognizable and safe).
Making your own throat lozenges or cough drops allows you to treat a sore throat and cough naturally and is also extremely satisfying (at least I think so).
Many years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of trying to make my own cough drops–I didn’t think it was possible. Now I find real joy in knowing it is not only possible, but completely doable.
Preparing these homemade throat lozenges is so easy your kids can help (or even do it for you, depending on their age).
About these DIY Cough Drop Ingredients
Why Slippery Elm Bark?
Slippery elm bark comes from the Slippery elm tree which grows in many parts of the world (including North America). The inner bark is most suitable for creating herbal remedies. Slippery elm bark can be purchased ground into a fine powder and may be used as a tea, infusion, poultice, or in throat lozenges. It has also been consumed as a food (warmed with hot water and eaten as a porridge).
Slippery Elm is known to be rich in mucilage, which makes it perfect for soothing a sore throat or cough. Mucilage needs to come into contact with the irritated area in order to deliver it’s benefits, which is why we are using it to create throat lozenges. Sucking on the throat lozenge allows the slippery elm to coat the mouth and throat, enabling it’s soothing properties to take effect.
Honey is often recommended for a sore throat or cough since it is soothing to the throat, and contains impressive antibacterial properties. In this recipe, it is included for two reasons:
1. to soothe/coat the throat
2. to sweeten the lozenges
Honey makes the lozenges taste better (slippery elm alone is not overly pleasant) and is also the binding ingredient which holds the lozenges together.
Cinnamon is a much-loved herbal remedy for many reasons. According to Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs, “…cinnamon is used to boost vitality, improve circulation, and clear congestion.” In these throat drops, cinnamon acts as a flavoring agent, and is also soothing to scratchy, irritated throats.
How to Make Homemade Cough Drops
You will need:
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- 1 cup slippery elm bark powder (finely ground) (where to find it)
- 4-6 Tablespoons honey (raw is best) (where to find it)
- 1 teaspoon organic ground cinnamon (where to find it)
Place slippery elm bark powder in a medium bowl. Add the cinnamon and four tablespoons of honey and stir to combine. If honey is somewhat hard, gently warm before adding to the slippery elm powder so that it is easier to stir.
If this mixture is crumbly and won’t form a thick dough, add the extra 2 tablespoons of honey.
Take small portions of the mixture (about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon) and roll into balls.
Place the balls on wax paper that has been laid on a counter top, table, or in a baking dish or cookie sheet (I prefer the cookie sheet as it holds a lot and is easy to move around and get out of the way, if necessary).
(They may not be pretty, but they work!)
Leave the lozenges to dry for at least 24 hours. You may need to leave them slightly longer if you live in a damp climate.
Wrap them in small squares of wax paper, or store unwrapped in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
Makes approximately 36 throat lozenges.
Stacy is a preacher’s wife and mom to three children. She is slightly obsessed with DIY projects, especially when they involve herbs or natural body care. She blogs at A Delightful Home, where she shares tips on natural, family living and is the author of Simple Scrubs to Make and Give and DIY Face Masks and Scrubs.