Tag Archives: Thyme

Cough Syrup

This cough syrup recipe was kindly sent to me by Louise from Thornbury, South Glocestershire, UK.  She has been making it since attending a herbal remedies course in Bristol a few years ago. The recipe is taken from Hedley & Shaw’s book, Herbal Remedies: A practical beginner’s guide to making effective remedies in the kitchen

Louise says that… “It’s really good stuff and clears a heavy cold in a matter of days.  I always keep a bottle handy in the fridge and it keeps for ages.  I have even given some to colleagues in work.”

The combination of herbs is said to be soothing, antiseptic, antibiotic and expectorant.  The aim of the syrup is to thin out mucus and help open up the bronchi.  It is recommended by Hedley & Shaw to help relieve deep restless chesty coughs, tightness from colds and sore throats.

I made a batch this week, it tastes wonderful. There are several ingredients but all are easy to obtain and the method is really quite simple.  Some of the ingredients contain strong volatile oils so this syrup should be taken in small quantities for a short period of time and should not be used by pregnant women.

Sterilising storage bottles

Remember that your storage bottles need to be sterile, to prevent contamination and prolong the life of your potion.  This is best done just before you set to work with the herbs as if left until the last minute there may no time to do it properly.

  1. Clean the bottles/jars thoroughly with hot soapy water and a bottle brush,
  2. Let them drip dry
  3. Sterilise them (with lids/caps off and the openings facing upwards) in a warm oven (about 110 oC) for about 10 minutes.   Beware that plastic caps or lid liners will melt and burn if left in too long.
  4. Turn off the oven and leave them in there whilst you make the potion and get ready to pour.  If you need to leave them waiting in the oven for a long while, loosely fit the caps/lids when cool enough to handle, to prevent contaminants getting in.Some people find that cleaning them on a hot dishwasher cycle also does the trick.

Cough Syrup
(Makes approximately 350ml)
Not suitable in pregnancy or for babies

Ingredients
15g dried thyme (NL: Tijm)
8g dried sage (salie)
8g dried chamomile (kamille)
2 teaspoons fennel seeds (venkelzaad)
1 teaspoon aniseed (anijs)
20 cloves (nagelkruiden)
2 garlic cloves (knoflook teentjes)
Pinch cayenne pepper (cayenne) or ground ginger (gember)
900ml water
450g locally sourced honey

Method

  1. Put water and chopped herbs into a pan and bring to the boil.  Cover with a tightly fitting lid.
  2. Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Cool a little, strain through a fine mesh seive, pressing with a clean wooden spoon to extract the goodness.
  4. Discard the herb and keep the liquid.
  5. Return to the heat and simmer slowly, uncovered until reduced to 200ml (making a decoction).
  6. Add 450g honey, dissolve and simmer for a few minutes, stirring all the time, until of a syrupy consistency.
    DO NOT OVERHEAT as the syrup will burn.
  7. Cool a little before pouring into sterilised bottles.
  8. Label (date made and contents) and keep refrigerated to avoid fermentation.
    Best kept in a corked dark glass bottle, as a screw topped bottle may explode if fermentation takes place.

    Legal Disclaimer: The content of this website is not intended to replace conventional western medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat,cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a medical herbalist or other qualified health care practitioner with a specific formula for you. All material on this website is provided for general information purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or consultation. Always check with your personal physician when you have a question pertaining to your health and health care.

Thyme (NL:Tijm)

Evergreen hardy perennial Thyme (Thymus spp.) originates from the Mediterranean, has a great number of medicinal and culinary uses and is easily grown in containers, making it ideal for the Urban Herbologist.  It is a strong herb containing volatile oils and should be avoided by pregnant women and used sparingly by others.

Growing Thyme in Containers
There are a vast number of Thyme varieties, each having a slightly different scent, appearance and flower colour. Thymus vulgaris is the Common Garden Thyme. All Thyme varieties have relatively shallow woody roots and form a soil covering carpet.  A healthy plant can be easily “split” to give you many new plants for free.  Being a Mediterranean herb, it does well in poor soil and should be allowed to dry out between waterings.  Thyme will quite rapidly use up the nutrients in soil, so do re-pot every year or so to encourage healthy growth. The leaves of Thyme  develop a more intense flavour and scent when grown in strong sunlight although dark leaved varieties can thrive in fairly shady locations.

This year I am experimenting with Lemon Thyme (Thymus citriodorus) grown in a container, around the base of a Lemon Verbena.  I bought one small pot of organic Lemon Thyme from my local garden centre and split the plant into four before re-potting.  Lemon Verbena is quite a tender deciduous shrub so drops its leaves in winter and needs to come inside to survive. Thyme is winter hardy but has the same watering requirements as Verbena so they should do well together.  I’m also hoping that Thyme’s shallow roots won’t out-compete the Verbena, when spring arrives.

Historical uses
Since ancient times Thyme has been prized for its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.  It was used widely in combination with other herbs for; embalming, temple incense, nosegays to ward off disease, room purification and even to induce visions of fairies.  The Romans used it to add an aromatic flavour to cheese but generally ancient people used it medicinally.

Culinary uses
These days Thyme is best known as a culinary herb, it has a strong, pleasant flavour and reportedly has good antioxidant properties. Many stews, salads and sauces are enhanced by adding a little Thyme. Chicken and fish dishes are particularly well suited to it. Because of its strength I far prefer Thyme as a culinary herb, adding it to food more regularly when the cold and flu season is upon us.  If you like the taste of lambs liver, try cooking it with a simple sauce made from softened onion, garlic, chopped tomato and thyme.

Thyme remedies
Some people find Thyme tea a useful hangover remedy but it is more widely used as a throat gargle or mouthwash to help with sore throats or gum infections.  Thyme has expectorant properties so Thyme syrup or honey may be useful as a cough remedy.  However due to the strong volatile oils in this herb, it shouldn’t be used regularly as a tea, syrup or in any other concentrated form.

Thyme tea
To make tea from Thyme simply add a few fresh or dry sprigs to a 2 cup teapot (maximum 1/2 teaspoon of dried chopped Thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh chopped Thyme), fill with boiling water and leave to steep – but only for a short time.  Check the taste and appearance after just five minutes, that should be enough to release some oils and impart a good flavour.   If you cannot seed oil droplets on the surface of the tea then you may like to leave it to steep a little longer, perhaps another five minutes but be cautious with this herb.  It is strong and the volatile oils are unsafe in concentration or when used regularly.

Legal Disclaimer: The content of this website is not intended to replace conventional western medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat,cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a medical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner with a specific formula for you. All material on this website is provided for general information purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or consultation. Always check with your personal physician when you have a question pertaining to your health and healthcare.