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Grandma’s Homemade Cough Syrup

December 11, 2012

We are talking about liquor. Medicinal liquor. The stuff that generations of sick folks depended upon before the invention of dextromethorphan. I decided, after waking up yet again with a fully congested head and ears along with an inflamed painful throat, that I’m not taking any more drugs for this stuff. I’ve been on an anti-biotic for 7 weeks along with various cough suppressants, expectorants, and heavy doses of ibuprofen for rib pain. Obviously, nothing is working or else my body has built up resistance to them. And the “nighttime” prescription narcotics keep me wide awake with itching skin and weird states of in between sleep.

It’s time to handle this the all natural way. What did our ancestors do when a head cold/flu/sinus crap got ahold of them? They used what the Good Lord gave them. Honey, lemon, and whiskey.

I vividly remember a jar that sat on top of my grandmother’s refrigerator before it was either used up or it disappeared. I remember seeing various members of my family take a spoon and dip out of it. . . some only once and some needed a little more healing than one spoon could give Winking smile. But I remember the big peppermint stick and that is what I found myself holding in the checkout line at the grocery store.

Grandma’s cough medicine is 4 ingredients: peppermint, honey, lemon, and liquor/whiskey. I don’t think it really matters. The point is NOT to get so drunk you can’t stand. Why these 4 things?

  • Honey coats the throat, is anti-bacterial and builds the immune system. It can also be used for burns and keeps infection away. It probably does the same for flu outbreak. It draws pus out of wounds and sores.
  • Whiskey works as an anesthetic to the cough response so you can sleep. If you can’t sleep, your body can’t rejuvenate. Whiskey is also higher in antioxidants than red wine so fights free radicals too.
  • Lemon provides Vitamin C and helps the liver cleanse the body. Lemon is one of the best foods for the liver because it cuts through mucous which often accompanies colds. It is also alkaline once it’s ingested which is especially good while fighting flu and coughs.
  • Peppermint flavors the syrup and stops coughing. Spices such as cayenne pepper, ginger and cinnamon can be added for flavor and extra healing. Just make sure they are thoroughly mixed.


When I saw the peppermint stick as soon as I walked in the store and had the revelation to ditch the meds, I also decided to fill my basket with flu-fighting foods.  I loaded up with a whole chicken for soup with bone broth. Salmon for Omegas, spinach for fighting free radicals, asparagus to clean out the bladder/kidneys, and nuts for clean protein. If I’m going all natural with the cough/congestion medicine, I’m sticking to real foods, too.

Melt 1/4  a peppermint stick in 1/2 cup of water and 1/4 cup of lemon juice (or juice of 1 lemon).


Add a half of cup of Southern Comfort and 1.5 cups of raw honey to pot and reduce heat. Stir to combine. Put 1/4 of a peppermint stick in jar.


Using a funnel, pour the mixture over 1/4 of peppermint stick (total of 1/2 of peppermint stick used.)



Let it cool. Store in cool dry place.

Dosing: 1-2 Tablespoons every 3-4 hours as needed. No need to swig the jar.


The Verdict: I slept great last night. I have a lot of congestion but I got some good sleep.

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1 Paula February 6, 2013 at 4:38 pm

OMGosh!! Have been coughing for a couple of days and remembered when my in-laws gave me some of their “homemade cough syrup” and how good it worked. Searched and came up with your sight.
Good Stuff!! Thanks.

2 Paula February 6, 2013 at 4:42 pm

sorry, “site”.

3 Roo November 7, 2013 at 4:02 pm

By cooking the liquor, there would be zero alcohol content. Ethanol boils at 173* F — much lower than water. I’m going to try this, but I will adjust by adding the liquor to the jar before pouring the heated mixture.

4 Katrina November 14, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Trust me, there is plenty alcohol content. I didn’t boil it. I melted the peppermint in water/lemon juice. Turned the heat to lowest setting. Added whiskey and honey. Stirred until combined, approx. 1 minute, then removed from heat. 🙂

5 Georgia December 2, 2013 at 7:52 pm

If i used peppermint essential oil instead of the peppermint stick do you think this would work just as well? Thanks!

6 James January 13, 2014 at 10:43 am

Try Peppermint Schnapps instead of peppermint.

7 lori September 23, 2014 at 2:37 am

If you pour honey in while mixture is above 130° you will kill the bacteria fighting agent. Let cool for 20 minutes, then add hony while it’s still warm enough to blend.


8 treating bronchitis September 24, 2014 at 8:43 am

This is such an easy recipe for homemade cough syrup, and it is great that you provided photos for the step-by-step procedure which makes it more easier. I have known of whiskey to also cure for sore throat (blended with honey, of course). Thanks for sharing. – Howard

9 Loribeth October 8, 2014 at 6:44 pm

My mom made something similar, except she didn’t use any alcohol and she used pure peppermint oil instead of a peppermint stick. I just made up a batch of hers, and even without the whiskey, it packs a punch with the cold and cough.

10 Marge January 26, 2015 at 7:53 pm

Why make things complicated? When I’m sick the last thing I need is complications. All you need to do is throw the stuff together and add a little bit of this and/or a little bit of that for your taste, take a sip (I took a large sip) and wake up the next morning feeling better than you have in days.

11 Angela September 15, 2015 at 10:05 pm

I use peppermint schnapps, honey, lemon juice and soft peppermint round candy that I crush. I do not heat, just shake and put in the refrigerator. Shake before each dose. It helps wheezing from asthma.

12 Katrina September 23, 2015 at 12:33 am

Oooh…I love the schnapps idea…

13 Claire December 26, 2015 at 8:03 am

If ill, for more than a week with cold or virus…I CHANGE MY TOOTHBRUSH OUT FOR NEW ONE, so not to RE-INFECT MYSELF.

If new brush, boil some water so hot, add 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 3 parts boiled hot water..soak toothbrush for 10 mins.

It shortens lifespan of bug, and changes environment bug likes.

14 David September 8, 2016 at 11:26 am

Dad made it with whiskey, honey, lemon, and rock candy. Just dont know the measurements.

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