Ginger Lime Thyme Homemade Cough Syrup

Every winter I get a hacking cough that I believe is brought on by the damp moisture in the air here in Virginia [note, since moving to Maine, I still get the cough, which now seems to be caused by the dry winter air, so go figure!] and seems to hang on until spring.

I've been to our family physician who prescribes me cough medicine with Codeine and basically says just let it run its course. Sometimes I did just that. Other years I just drank RobitussinDM by the bottle full until the cough went away.

Then several years ago I decided I was done with conventional cough medicines and would make my own. There are lots of cough syrup recipes that call for lemons, but since I didn't have any lemons, I subbed in a lime.

I also added some fresh ginger and thyme from the garden. I played with the amount of honey a bit, to make the syrup a bit thicker than many of the recipes called for.

The resulting cough syrup not only tastes yummy and only takes a few minutes to make, but also works - and I won't worry about swigging unnatural ingredients for the next several weeks as my body slowly works its way through this.

Ginger Lime Thyme Homemade Cough Syrup

1 Lime, sliced thin
3/4 Cup honey (raw, organic and local is best, but any kind is fine)
Generous handful of fresh thyme (read  HERE how to grow it through the winter)
Fresh ginger, sliced ( I used about 1") or powdered ginger (maybe a Tablespoon)
2 Cups water


Place the lime slices in a pint canning jar or other glass container, pour the honey over the top and set aside. Soaking in the honey will draw the lime juice out, but just to be sure I like to poke the lime slices a bit with a wooden skewer or the tip of a knife to allow even more juice to escape.

Store your cough syrup in the refrigerator (it will keep for 3-4 weeks) and take a tablespoonful throughout the day as needed, especially before bedtime. Shake the jar to redistribute the ingredients.

Why it Works

In a small saucepan, bring the thyme and ginger slices to a boil in the water and then reduce to a simmer. Cook uncovered until the liquid is reduced to about half, leaving you roughly one cup. 

Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

Strain the liquid into your pint jar (your chickens will love the discarded thyme and ginger slices!) and stir or whisk well to combine. And that's it. You can pull out the lime slices, but I just leave them in and eventually eat them!

Limes - High in Vitamin C like lemons, also antiviral and anti-inflammatory, prevent colds and lessen cold symptoms

Honey - Cough suppressant, soothes sore throats, antibacterial and immune system booster

Thyme -  Treats respiratory infections, boosts immune system, antiviral/antiseptic, relieves dry coughs

Ginger - Treats common cold, thins mucus and warms the lungs, anti-inflammatory, strengthens the immune system

(If you are so inclined, a splash of whiskey wouldn't hurt either! That was my mom's go-to cough remedy for us as kids - lemon juice, honey and whiskey - and believe it or not, whiskey does seem to have some health benefits including being an immune system booster and antioxidant.)

If you don't have any thyme, other herbs such as oregano, mint, sage and anise hyssop are also excellent for treating coughs. Brew and steep the same way as above.

Do you have a favorite natural cough remedy?


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  1. What a great recipe. I've seen a lot of cough recipes, but haven't tried this one yet. I've got elderberry syrup in my refrigerator that I made for the flu season, and it works great. Will have to print this out for my recipe collection in case a hacking cough hits our household. It sounds wonderful!

  2. Manuela@ACultivatedNest.ComJanuary 7, 2015 at 12:25 PM

    Thanks for sharing this great recipe! I'm sure this will wind up coming in handy as this cold season continues!

  3. Yes! I make elderberry ginger honey cold syrup which I do think works - and tastes really really good!

  4. This is so very timely! My husband has the beginnings of an allergy/cold happening, and I might need to make this for him soon. Thanks!

  5. WOW, I love this! I am definately pin to try! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Angi @ ScheniderPeepsJanuary 12, 2015 at 7:50 PM

    I didn't know that about the thyme. I make something similar only without the thyme, I'm going to start adding it - and maybe a little whiskey for the grown ups. Thanks so much for sharing with us at Simple Lives Thursday; hope to see you again this week.

  7. Lisa, I think I will have to save this recipe, I bet it would work great! I just made an elderberry syrup this year and thought it worked well. Thanks! (I saw you over at Simple Lives Thursdays).