Tired of Toxic Soup? Try Homemade Cough Syrup

8 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

Nyquil and Codeine Cough SyrupsDo you have a cough right now or know someone who does? Then I want to talk to you.

In December, I caught a cold and towards the end of it was hacking pretty badly. Now, I realize that you don’t want to suppress a productive cough. But this cough was bad enough to keep me up at night, robbing me of much needed rest. So I polished off two plastic bottles of cough/cold medicine: the remainder of a bottle of Nyquil that I bought years ago (yeah, it still worked) as well as the last couple of doses of yummy Prometh cough syrup with Codeine. And by yummy, I mean I held my hose and chugged it down, trying to bypass my taste buds as much as possible.

Not only do these two products come in plastic bottles, but they contain nasty ingredients: alcohol (which I am trying to avoid for personal reasons); artificial dyes; high fructose corn syrup; polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol (petroleum derived products also used in anti-freeze); methylparaben and propylparaben (a class of preservatives called parabens which have been linked to various health problems); saccharine sodium (linked to cancer); and sodium benzoate (also linked to cancer). Holy cow! This is not medicine; it’s toxic soup.

So I went in search of a homemade cough suppressant recipe to use at night so I could sleep. And I found one on ehow.com. Except I don’t have a cough anymore, so I can’t really try it out. That’s where you come in. I certainly don’t wish for you to be sick, but if any of you are, why not give this a shot and let me know what you think. Here are the ingredients, all of which I can buy plastic-free except for the vinegar, which comes in a glass bottle with a plastic cap.

Homemade Cough Syrup Ingredients

Here’s the nearly plastic-free recipe:

  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (purchased from Whole Foods bulk bin in my own jar)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (purchased from Whole Foods bulk bin in my own jar)
  • 1 T honey (local honey from farmers market)
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar (Trader Joe’s in glass bottle)
  • 2 T water (my tap, of course)
  • small jar (a reused spice jar)

I also contacted Tracey TieF from Anarres Natural Health, whom I profiled on my blog back in March of last year. Tracey is my go-to gal for natural remedies. She suggested that the syrup could be sweetened/thickened with “agave, maple syrup, fair trade demerara or evaporated cane juice.” And Tracey also recommended a combination of ginger, lemon and slippery elm.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite cough remedy?

RolaidsAnd speaking of over the counter medicines, here is another plastic bottle of tablets I’ve emptied recently, purchased long before I began reducing my plastic consumption. Like the drugs mentioned above, it not only contains the active ingredients calcium and magnesium, but also artificial flavorings and polyethylene glycol.

I’ve been suffering from heartburn a lot lately. Sometimes I take care of it quickly with Rolaids. When I remember, I take Zantac before the heartburn starts. Not sure what’s going on. There are a number of foods that contribute to heartburn: alcohol and caffeine, which I’ve cut out; chocolate; spicy foods; tomato sauce; citrus fruits; peppermint; fatty foods; eating too late at night and eating too much; and smoking (I don’t.). I’m working on changing my diet, but sometimes I need quick relief. It’s not that I can’t stand pain but that acid reflux is actually damaging to the esophagus, so I want to make it stop as quickly as possible.

Now that this plastic bottle is used up, I’d like to find a natural, plastic-free alternative. About.com suggests:

  • Baking soda (but it’s high in sodium)
  • Bananas
  • Chamomile tea
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Aloe Vera Juice

Others online suggest eating apples.

Reading online forums in which participants discuss their real life experiences using natural heartburn treatments reveals a confusing number of recommendations. Some say apples or apple cider vinegar work. Others say they don’t. Some say vinegar is bad because it adds more acid. Others say heartburn is not caused by too much acid and that those other people are stupid jerks. (In so many words.) Some say raw potato works. Others say raw potatoes are toxic. One says to avoid too much meat, carbs, and mushrooms. And the list goes on. I find I don’t really believe any of them, and that probably the truth is that everyone’s body is different and the only way to find out what will work for me is to experiment.

Still, I’d like to know if any of you have found a great natural alternative to traditional heartburn medication. And keep in mind that heartburn, officially know as acid reflux, is not the same as having an upset stomach. While peppermint is often used to settle the stomach, it actually contributes to heartburn.

Now that I’ve revealed some of my health issues (TMI?) I’d like to also know what kinds of health problems you deal with and what natural remedies you have found, or not found, to relieve them.

Beth Terry: attempting to live plastic-free and blogging the heck out of it at FakePlasticFish.com. Follow her on Twitter or friend her on Facebook.

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