How To Make Your Own Natural Cough Syrup

Natural Cough Remedies

Treating Coughs with Elder

Few things make me more sad than watching one of my little ones cough uncontrollably and feeling like I can’t do anything to help. This was a familiar feeling several years ago, but now, I’m grateful to say that I’ve found a great natural remedy that helps get the coughing under control.

Meet Elder, a powerful healing plant, with a variety of uses.

Before I tell you about its usefulness as a cough suppressant (and share my natural cough syrup recipe), I want to tell you just a little bit more about the elder plant, so you know how to use it in other situations as well.


Elder is known for cleansing the body, so it is commonly used as a natural detoxifier. For this use, elder flowers are brewed into a tea to be taken a few times a day for a limited period of time.

These brewed flowers aid kidney function by relieving fluid retention and cleansing toxins. Elder stimulates the circulation, causing sweating, effectively cleansing the body. It quickly increases the activity of body systems and increases overall energy. One side-effect of this property is weight loss.


In addition to providing relief to the respiratory system, elder also promotes a feeling of well-being. Taken before bed, elder flower tea promotes peaceful sleep and relaxes and soothes the nerves. Elder has also been known to relieve anxiety and lift depression.

Respiratory Aid

If you’ve ever taken a natural cough syrup, it has no doubt contained elderberry as a main ingredient. Elder flowers relax bronchial spasms, making them very useful for treating upper respiratory infections. Fresh elderberries, combined with plantain, make an effective cough syrup. (Recipe below.)

Cautions: Flowers are the mildest part of the plant and the safest for children. Leaves, roots, seeds, and berries of the raw plant contain cyanide-producing compounds and should not be consumed without cooking properly.

Natural Cough Remedies 1

Elder & Plantain for treating a cough

In addition to using some of my favorite essential oils when someone in our house has a cough, I like to bring out this plantain elder syrup.

As mentioned above, elder is great for relaxing bronchial spasms, and I like to use the flowers and berries to get the benefits of the different parts of the plant. I like to add plantain leaf, because it’s also well-known for treating coughs. It soothes the throat and prevents excess coughing. The first time I used this for a cough, I noticed that the tickle in my throat was gone almost immediately.

Natural Cough Remedies 2

DIY Plantain Elder Cough Syrup



  1. Place water, plantain, elder flowers and elderberries in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down and let simmer for fifteen minutes.
  2. Place in the oven or cover and let steep for an additional two hours. Strain the infused water from the herbs and put your infusion back into the pan (go ahead and compost those herbs).
  3. Turn the stove on low and let it simmer uncovered, reducing by half.
  4. Remove the pan from heat and allow it to cool for a bit. Add the honey while it is still warm so that it dissolves nicely.

Tips for storage

You can store your concoction in a labeled glass jar in your refrigerator. It keeps for about 3 months (the honey acts as a natural preservative).

Instructions for use

This simple cough syrup can be taken at the first sign of a cough. Adults, use 1 tablespoon every 2-3 hours. Children under six, use 1 teaspoon every 2-3 hours.

Are you prepared to fend off illness this fall and winter?

Check out even more ways to build immune systems & prepare your family for better health:


PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for us to support our website activities, we may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this website.

DISCLAIMER: Information on DIY Natural™ is not reviewed or endorsed by the FDA and is NOT intended to be substituted for the advice of your health care professional. If you rely solely upon this advice you do so at your own risk. Read full Disclaimer & Disclosure statements here.


  1. I’ve been brought up on elderflower tea for tonsillitis and sore throats – it rocks! Still trying to find a supplier of the berries here in Japan, but will try the recipe once I can!

  2. Not directly related to the recipe, but I was wondering what kind of rope/twine you used with the little label. :) It’s adorable!

  3. Hi, I think this is a great recipe however I came looking for help for my 10 month old’s cough. I think it might be a good disclaimer to add that children under 1 year shouldn’t have honey :)

  4. Hi! I love this! Do you know if you can use a canner to make batches but have it on hand? Or is it better to make fresh as needed? Just curious. Thanks!

  5. I have a mild case of asthma where I do not have attacks, I just cough a lot and my lungs produce a horrid phlegm. I’ve tried so many medications (prescription and over-the-counter) that have not worked. Do you feel this would help at all with this issue? Thanks so much.

  6. I just made some elderberry syrup today for the first time. I love that I now have a new use for these berries. I think I found an elderberry bush in my neighborhood during my run today. I’m hoping my neighbors don’t mind sharing with me!

  7. YEA!!! Something else to use some plantain in!! I’ve been planning to make some elderberry syrup anyway – have two tinctures going right now.

    Is there a certain type of pan I should or shouldn’t use when I’m boiling the herbs and water when I make this? I could swear that I’ve heard there’s a type you shouldn’t use, but I can’t remember. I’d love to find something at a thrift store to use specifically for herbs and such.

    I’d also like to know if this is something that could be canned or preserved somehow for longer storage in case I don’t use all of it at once or whatever.

    • NEVER us aluminium for herb brews…. or any sort of cooking for that matter. The tannins in many herbs and veges cause the aluminium to leach out. OK when I was growing up aluminium cookware was all the rage and is quite possibly why people my age have health issues now.
      I use good quality stainless steel or glass items for my brews. I don’t use plastic either for the same reasons plus they do not cope with heat.

  8. I have elder shrubs and I make elderberry tincture. I also have elder flower tincture (which I’ve not yet used). Elderberry has been proven to be effective against 10 different viruses; and I believe, they extrapolated the results to other cold/flu viruses. The way it works is that it prevents viruses from replicating. So, if you catch something, then start taking elderberry, you’ll get over it in 1/3 the time. It can also be used as a preventive.

  9. Ok. All I have are hard adonized pots and pans, which I believe is a form of aluminum. Should I try the double boiler technique to make this with a quart size glass jar, like when I made my salves, or would that not work?? I need to just find a stainless steel or glass sauce pan to use specifically for things like this.

  10. I am diabetic, so honey is not an option. I know honey is considered antiseptic, healing etc, would it work just as well without it? If it’s just for the “making it palatable” factor, how about using stevia?

  11. I’m not sure where to get elderberry berries and flowers other than from mountain rose that you linked to. Thanks gor the link–i will probably use it, but id appreciate any suggestions on finding a more local supplier so I don’t have to pay shipping. I’m also wondering how the amounts you used translate to ounces so I know how much to order.