Are you curious about making home remedies but a little nervous about actually using one? Here’s a simple home remedy for children’s coughs & colds. All you need is an onion, and granulated sugar. Et voila! Overnight it turns into onion cough syrup.
I learned about this remedy in my herbal medicine class. It’s a classic children’s remedy for coughs which has been used for generations…but which I can’t find much about in books or on the internet!
Whenever I meet an older person I always ask them “What did your mother do when you were sick? What kind of foods did she make?” Unfortunately, more often than not, nothing comes to mind. Soon after learning about this cough syrup recipe, we mentioned it to my grandmother. Suddenly, you could see a memory flooding back. She had clear memories of her own mother making and using this syrup on her when she was a child.
Brilliant moments of vintage wisdom like this always make me think of how many wonderful remedies, skills & tips that we’ve lost as a society. Some remedies which would still be really effective (and inexpensive, healthy, simple to make and easy on the environment.)
Reminders like this just strengthen my resolve to learn (and teach!) as much as I can about good food, home remedies and making stuff ourselves!!
Why would onions help a cough or cold?
Garlic and onions are well known for strengthening the immune system, as well as being brilliant natural antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and expectorants.
Garlic is the most effective. I would really encourage everyone to eat more garlic during the winter months, and especially if you feel run-down or catch a cold. (You might want to make some homemade chicken stock and add lots of garlic. OK your breath might smell, but you’re not going to be smooching anyone when you have a cold, right??)
Onions are a gentler form of some of the active components in garlic. So onions are more suitable for children, the elderly, people who need a gentler remedy or for anyone who isn’t crazy about garlic!
How do I use onion syrup?
This onion syrup is traditionally used as a childrens cough syrup. Simply give a spoonful as often as needed to stop coughing (1-2 spoonfuls per hour, if needed).
You MUST use this syrup fresh. It is ready in 6-8 hours (overnight), so just make some fresh every 2 days.
How does it taste?
I made this syrup myself last week when I caught a cold on a plane flight. I was eating it for a whole day and thought it tasted lovely and sweet.
A few hours later my nose unblocked.
Then I realized, wow, this really smells of onions!
So, my advice is:
If your child has a stuffed up nose, take the syrup straight.
If they can still smell (and taste), you might want to have them hold their noses as they eat it.
My mother had my 3 year old nephew hold his nose while taking the syrup and he thought it was fun and tasted yummy. My 5 year old niece went for a straight spoonful and wasn’t too happy about it. Experiment and see what works.
How to make Onion Cough Syrup
a container with a lid, which fits the onion
Find a container that fits the onion
Peel and slice the onion
Layer sugar and onion slices in the jar. Top with more sugar. Cover.
Let it sit overnight on the countertop (6-8 hours). Pretty soon you’ll see liquid in the jar.
Take a spoonful of this liquid as needed for coughs & colds.
Store the extra syrup in the fridge for one day. Make fresh syrup every 1-2 days.
Have you ever tried onion cough syrup? What other family remedies for coughs & colds do you know??