Want to make your own homemade herbal throat lozenges? Today, Kresha has you covered!
By Kresha, Contributing Writer
For nearly two decades, I had a favorite brand of cough drops that went with me everywhere. During that time, I had a pack of cough drops in my purse or in my rehearsal bag (I’m an opera singer when I’m not blogging and mothering) pretty much constantly.
Trouble is… I turned the package over a few years ago and realized what was actually IN said favorite cough drops.
How does this look to you?
Active Ingredient: Menthol 5.7 mg
Inactive Ingredients: caramel color, FD&C blue 1, FD&C red 40, FD&C yellow 5 (tartrazine), flavors, glucose syrup, glycerin, malic acid, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, potassium citrate, soy lecithin, sucrose, water
Needless to say, I went looking for a few decent alternatives right quick.
While I loved a few of the alternatives I found, I also wanted to make something at home so that I could control the ingredients. I started with homemade cough drops based off the popular Swiss herbal blend, which worked really well, but it was a bit time consuming, and I wanted something I could whip together in just a few minutes.
This homemade version of Slippery Elm drops was just the one-trick pony I was looking for. They take only a few minutes to make, they coat a sore throat well, and due to the addition of elder flowers (read more below), they actually help prevent the flu as well, so take these anytime you feel either the sniffles or a fever coming on.
This recipe is remarkably easy and has only about half-an-hour of hands-on time total, but there are few hours of “curing” time, so make sure to take that into consideration.
Herbal Throat Lozenges
Makes about 80 lozenges
1/2 cup (~18 grams) elder flowers (find elder flowers here)
1/4 cup (~8 grams) horehound (find horehound here)
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup honey, raw if possible
1 cup (~90 grams) Slippery Elm Bark powder, more as needed (find Slippery Elm Bark powder here)
Place the elder flowers and the horehound in a heat proof bowl and pour the boiling water over. Stir to make sure each bud or leaf is moistened, then cover and set aside for about 8 hours or overnight.
After steeping, measure out 1/2 cup of liquid, pressing on the herbs. Add water if necessary to make a full half-cup. Compost the herbs.
Place the liquid in a saucepan along with the honey. Heat gently just until the honey is melted and you can whisk the honey easily into the herbal liquid.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mound the slippery elm bark into the middle, then create a well in the center. When the honey-herb mixture is ready, pour it in and stir the mixture until a dough is formed, then mix with your hands until the dough is smooth, adding more slippery elm if needed. The mixture may be crumbly, but should be still be able to be cohesive when pressed together.
When the ball is smooth, dust your work surface with slippery elm powder, then roll the dough about 1/8th-inch thick. Then, using a tiny round cutter (I usually use the small bottle cap off a bottle of vanilla extract or similar. Just remember this will be the size you will be putting in your mouth, so keep them as small as possible.) Place them on a sheet of parchment paper.
To dry, set lozenges aside for 24-48 hours or place them in a food dehydrator at 150°F for 4-6 hours until completely dry.
Once dried, store in an airtight container. It’s a great way to reuse an old metal mint tin if you’ve got one!
Store in a cool, dark, non-humid place for 4-6 months. If you don’t have a place that is all of those things, you may store them in the freezer.
If you’re in a hurry, you may eat the drops before they’re dry, but – as my three-year-old son is wont to say – they’re more like gum.
Know Your Ingredients
Native Americans have used various parts of the elderberry tree to treat fevers and joint pain for hundreds of years, but elderberry’s real claim to fame is as a cure for the flu. According to USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, elder flowers can be used to “break dry fevers and stimulate perspiration, aid headache, indigestion, twitching eyes, dropsy, rheumatism, appendix inflammation, bladder or kidney infections, colds, and (treat) influenza,” which is wonderful news for those of us who want natural ways to prevent the flu.
Horehound is in the mint family, but has a distinctively bitter taste. Its role here is as an expectorant and mild pain reliever. It too is known for its potent antiviral properties.
As I wrote in my original cough syrup recipe, honey is soothing, tasty, and coats the throat. Raw honey, especially, is packed with nutrients and enzymes and is a powerful antiviral and antibacterial substance. The beauty of the honey in this recipe is that it sweetens the drops (absolutely necessary with the bitter herbs!).
Slippery Elm Bark Powder
Slippery elm bark powder turns into a sweet, mucilaginous slurry when combined with water and relieves inflammation and irritation in the throat superbly.
If you aren’t able to find the herbs for this recipe or want to save a few dollars, you can certainly still still make it with just water, honey, and slippery elm. Just skip the steeping step and dissolve the honey in the boiling water and add to the slippery elm as described.