Decongestant Natural Cough Syrup - Clear Lungs & Easy Breathing in a Covid-19 World

Asthma, smoking, Chronic Obstructive Airways Disease, allergies, poor air quality.... there are SO MANY reasons for a hacking cough and gluggy, congested bronchial passages. In a world suddenly coming to terms with the enormous importance of optimal lung health, it seemed a really great time to get into my witchy, herbal Thai kitchen yesterday and brew up some Natural Decongestant Cough Syrup.

My personal journey through multiple and serious bouts of pneumonia whilst working on bone issues has left me with some lung damage. After multiple Tuberculosis tests (all negative) and a lung biopsy (clear) the lung specialist came to the conclusion that I simply have "highly reactive airways". Stress, poor or dry air quality, catching a mild cold or just household dust can trigger really icky congestion. Although I have (and sometimes use) a preventative lung steroid, of necessity, I much prefer to do things naturally.

For me that means 4 cups of warm moringa tea on waking every day, lots of hot steamy showers, topical magnesium treatments, essential oils and staying superbly hydrated. When that's not enough, I level up with herbs - andrographis paniculata in particular - and my "special syrup".

The active ingredients are simple, easily available even for me here in Northern Thailand, and inexpensive. Best of all, they are natural, organic and have other important immune boosting functions.


  • Ginger
  • Thyme
  • Liquorice Root
  • Black Pepper
  • Lime
  • Honey


Ginger helps rapidly reduce the inflammation that takes place in the bronchia, the throat and the nasal passage. I like to think of it as having the mechanical assistant role here. It OPENS the bronchial passages to help expel the mucous that makes breathing difficult. Less mucous means the cough response is reduced. There is SO MUCH published clinical evidence regarding the efficacy of ginger to assist in the reduction of inflammation, particularly in the lungs; I found this compilation of clinical research particularly useful.

An important thing to note is that in Thailand, all ginger is not equal. We use "young ginger" for cooking and flavouring - it is juicy, milder tasting and has a lighter colour. For natural medicines, every Thai herbalist automatically goes for what we call "two seasons ginger".


It is woodier and looks a bit dried up, is spicy and much stronger to taste, less juicy, and a darker colour inside. We use only this grade of ginger for medicinal teas, tinctures and potions here.

Ginger being a well-documented anti-viral agent, particularly in relation to respiratory virus? Big bonus. You can read more about ginger's anti-viral function Here.


Fresh thyme is hard to grow in tropical Asia, but dried thyme is cheap and easy to find at our local equivalent of Costco. The European Medicines Agency has specifically evaluated Thyme for its use as a therapeutic herb for cough, and come to this conclusion:

"A clinical study involving 60 adults with productive cough treated either with a thyme preparation or bromhexine, an established treatment for productive coughs. Although no significant difference was observed between thyme and bromhexine in treating the cough, there were shortcomings in the study such as the small number of patients and lack of details of the thyme preparation, so firm conclusions could not be drawn. Therefore, the HMPC conclusions on the use of these thyme medicines are based on their longstanding use." Source

In summary, thyme works as effectively as its chemical counterpart, has been used for eons and no one thinks its worth the money to test or prove that further.


Called He Hu Jiao in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Black pepper has been used for millennia, usually paired with honey and ginger, and sometimes cinnamon, to soothe what they call a "wet cough".

You may be interested to read about other Chinese folk prescriptions for wind-cold cough in this article from The Journal of Traditional And Complementary Medicine.


A classical remedy for both cough and mucous build up in the lungs, licorice root has been well studied. You can read specifically about the active compounds in licorice root Here.

I am eternally grateful to the Buddha who wandered over to Thailand from India, and seems to have brought licorice root into the culture with him. Yes, my local Costco-equivalent (called Makro) has licorice root cheaply for sale, along with the Indian herbs, curry pastes and spices.


I use limes in two ways. I slice a whole lime and simmer it gently, with the herbs - it extracts the essential oils from the lime skin. And adds a lovely flavour. The essential oils from limes (and lemons) are anti-inflammatory, in nature.

I also add a LOT of fresh lime juice at the end, for some serious vitamin C.


Soothing, calming, eases coughing. It's hard to believe that someone actually funded a study to research what has been known by moms for literally millennia, but yes, someone funded a Study to Evaluate Honey as a Remedy for Cough in Children. Surprise - they found even a single dose calmed cough, enabled the release of mucous and eased breathing.

Sooo.... now that you know what's in it, and why, how do I make my Natural Decongestant Cough Syrup?


In a small pot, heat 1 liter of pure water (no chlorine or fluoride, please!). Add a few sticks of licorice root chopped into half inch lengths, 2 tablespoons of dried thyme, a big teaspoon full of black peppercorns, about 2 inches of "2 season ginger" sliced and a whole lime (or lemon) sliced. Bring to the boil and simmer very softly until the water is reduced by half. Cool till warm (but not cool) and strain.

Add half a cup of 100% pure, raw, untreated honey. Mix very well. Pure, raw honey does NOT blend easily. The harder it is to mix, the higher quality your honey is! It mixes easiest when the liquid is still warm, but we don't want to degrade the important healing components of the honey by applying to much heat. When mixed, let it cool to room temperature.

Add a qQuarter of a cup of lime or lemon juice, freshly squeezed. And a quarter of a cup of raw ginger juice (extracted using a normal vegetable juicer).

Mix and store in a glass container, in the fridge.



x1 small shot glass full, x3 daily. Or more, as required, for severe cough.


Mostly sweet and ginger-limey-honey but with a spicy twist and warming as it goes down. Soothes and calms. Makes coughing out the gunk much easier. Opens airways for easier breathing.


Make a hot-toddy of half "special syrup" and half gently warmed neat whiskey. You're welcome. Sleep well.

In this time of viruses, pandemics, immunity and many people needing to self-isolate and worried when they have coughs, colds and congestion, it makes sense to soothe and ease any-all symptoms as naturally and simply as we can, so our bodies have better oxygenation, better sleep and stronger immunity.

Breathing Easy in My Natural Thai World.

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@tipu curate

A huge hug from @amico! 🤗


I love the way even your automated responses turn up with a hug, @amico. x

Ehehehhehh 😘

You've been visited by @minismallholding from Natural Medicine.

I’ve featured your post in The Lotus Garden newsletter, which will be published each Thursday. Thank you for sharing this recipe. It was my favourite pick this week and I've chosen you to be the recipient of the 5% beneficiary of the post payout. Sending you love to get through this tough time.

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Aaaw - thank you!! I'm loving that you're doing Lotus Garden. I was under the impression you're publishing on Wednesdays (a la TODAY) and I'm doing Thursdays with Earth Healing. Pls correct me if I got that wrong.

Look forward to continuing to support the amazing Lotus Garden people, doing great things out there in the world.

Hello Marike,
Wow great recipe... and the adult version a nice bonus also!

Keep well = D

There's always an adult version possible. 😆

What a wonderful post, thank you @artemislives and stay well!

Hoping Costa Rico stays safe and relatively covid-free. Be well, my dear.

This looks super delicious and good for the immune system! I think we have licorice root in the cupboard, I'm gonna go try this out now 😁 , thanks for the amazing post!

I'm curious if you got around to it and how it went? A friend in South Africa made it and said it helped her to decongest really quickly. Someone who always has licorice root on the cupboard? LOL... your NatMed self is showing! 😆

It actually turned out really great! I ended up making a big pot and added lots of turmeric to get that nice orange color, my mom said it tasted like medicine, so i added more honey and now its perfect 😁 Yes indeed loads of natural goods in Turkey! Trying out new things all the time 😎

Good idea to add some fresh turmeric juice! - I will try that with my next batch. 😊

 3 years ago  

So, aftee reading this I ordered licorice. I got honey and found limes. I have pepper. Now I find I have no thyme and ran out of ginger. Sigh. Xx

Yapping to my mum yesterday she told me fresh ginger is $39/kg at Aldi. Holy crap!! I nearly had a heart attack!! Definitely having your OWN medicinal herbal garden with LOADS of ginger is the way to go.

 3 years ago  

If only I could!!!! Yes, ginger is one of the most expensive things to buy!

Absurd really, cos it grows easily and well north of Sydney. Now expensive in SOMERSET? OK. Australia? no excuse - just price gouging. It should be listed as an essential - way more important than milk.

 3 years ago  

Totally - I don't even like milk! Ironically - I'm in the home of cows. They do excellent cheese here though. Can't beat somerset cider and cheese, even if we have a ginger shortage.

I can't bear the smell of milk but I DO love cheese. I'm Dutch. 😆

hey great post are you from the middle east? i find ginger a great medicine personally but i appreciate everything your doing we can cure ourselves given the right herbs and plants .

Hey @luckylinkz - NOT from Middle East - A Dutch-Australian living in Northern Thailand. 😊 Yes, the right herbs and plants are everything. Where are you from??

Thanks for sharing this. Will definitely give it a try to experience the efficacy of your concoction.

And looking forward to a glowing natural medicine post about it! 😆 Thanks for stopping by!

Nice naturalnedicine :-)

Thank you for swinging by to say so. 😊

@porters here on behalf of @NaturalMedicine – Thanks so much for this very helpful home remedy of a Decongestant Cough Syrup! I use the lemon ginger honey drink when I have a cold but it is good to know about the added thyme, black pepper and licorice root when you have congestion and coughing or as you referred to as "wet" cough!


We'd love you to enter our IMMUNITY CHALLENGE, which you can read about here. There's 50 HIVE on offer & lots of LOTUS to win!

Lemon-honey-ginger is CLASSIC no? We drink it by choice and for flavour often, and not just when we're congested or 'coming down with something'.

The immunity challenge is great - lots of good content coming forward.

Thanks for this, @artemislives. I tried making it tonight sans licorice (dunno where to get it here, maybe I can scout around after the lock down) but substituted with rosemary and peppermint as you suggested.

I hope it helps keep your lungs healthy and clear, @arrlinn. SOOOO important right now. Stay well and healthy - and happy!! 🙂

Looks yummy @artemislives. Except for the licorice root, all of the ingredients are easy for me to find here in the Philippines. Any alternatives to licorice?

Alternatives to licorice? In terms of function, a combination of rosemary and peppermint. In terms of flavour, anise. Hoping you are staying safe & well in the Philippines. Appreciate you stopping by. 😊

Rosemary and peppermint seems easy enough to find. Thanks! We are doing okay, considering the situation. The number of cases spiked in recent days, but still thankful that the numbers are low compared to other countries. That said, i believe that it will be a combination of efforts among communities, government and corporate support to get us through this.

 3 years ago  

I have no doubt of the healing properties, but that combination sounds absolutely delicious, as well! I love the flavor of licorice, and the spicy hit of ginger. I need to see if I can find licorice root locally. I'm sure I can get some at the international markets, but not sure if it is something that can be found locally as of course that is the preference. Off to do some investigating...

A combination of rosemary and peppermint will give a similar decongestant effect, although perhaps not quite as effective. Indian shops tend to sell licorice root. :) Going local is always the best option.

Thank you for sharing your special recipe. In these moments of covid19 you have to take natural things and avoid colds