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Better Choices for Cough Syrup

By May 4, 2021November 14th, 2021No Comments

Winter is the wonderful time when colds and the flu go wild. Fun family holiday movies seem at a sharp contrast to your reality of being up all night with coughing kids. Then comes your cough. Instead of reaching for the first over the counter medicine you see, I want to help you make a better choice for your family’s health. Cold and flu season doesn’t have to be a nightmare with these remedies!

As I say about anything you ingest, ingredients don’t just disappear once they are in your body, they have to affect you in some way. Let’s work on choosing ingredients that nourish our bodies, especially when we are sick. I have included a few swaps that will have your entire family healthy and feeling better in no time. 

What to Avoid

Most cough syrups on the market for kids contain many questionable ingredients. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the most common hidden ingredients found on the shelves in your local drugstore. 

  • Acesulfame Potassium (Ace-k)
  • Sucralose
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Artificial dyes
  • Artificial flavors
  • Glyphosate sprayed GMOs

The FDA has determined that “After studying the use of cough and cold medicines in young children, the FDA determined two things:
There is no evidence that cough and cold medicines are safe or effective for young children. There IS evidence that children have been harmed by overdoses of these products. Problems include seizures, coma, and death.”

These are the main ingredients of concern: 

  1. Antihistamines: Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine often used in cough syrup. This can be harmful in large amounts or given too frequently.
  2. Decongestants: Phenylephrine, a decongestant, has stimulant side effects and an overdose can cause seizures and high blood pressure.
  3. Cough suppressants: Dextromethorphan, used as a cough suppressant, that is in the morphinan class of medications. It can cause nausea, vomiting, fast heart rate, slow breathing or coma if too much is taken.

Better Ingredients that help Soothe Cough (and Nourish the Body!)

  • Honey: naturally occurring and helps to prevent and soothe cough
  • Zinc: essential nutrient that can help the body fight colds
  • Lemon: proven to help soothe coughs, especially with honey and hot water
  • Bee pollen: has anti-flu properties
  • Apple cider vinegar: breaks up mucus and boosts immunity
  • Ginger: antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Eucalyptus: shown to stimulate immune system, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and has antioxidant properties
  • Coconut oil: antiviral properties

Easy Homemade Cough Syrup Recipe


  • 2 cups pineapple juice (fresh blended or store-bought)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (reduce or omit for kids)
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger


  • blend all ingredients in a blender!

I hope this post has given you the confidence to make healthier choices for your family. My final tip is to never forget the humidifier! They get stored away and are so easily overlooked, but can be extremely beneficial for both your own cough and in preventing croup in young children. Do you have any tried and true home cold remedies? Share them in the comments below!

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