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I’m a big fan of using whole, clean, raw foods to boost the immune system. So, when Sweet G and Little T developed a scratchy, hacking, keeps-everyone-in-the-house-up-all-night cough, I opened my big book of online recipes (aka laptop) and began checking them against the ingredients I managed to find in the kitchen at 2am.When I came across several recipes for honey and onion cough syrup, I could barely stomach the idea of combining the two let alone imagine my children gulping the goop down.

Separately, honey and onion are two of my favorite natural remedies. They’re both naturally antibiotic, antiviral, and delicious. Onion is anti-inflammatory, and nothing is more soothing to a sore throat than a spoonful of honey. So, setting aside my disbelief, I decided to give the syrup a try.

It was well worth the middle-of-the-night work and the one hour wait. First off, it’s pretty. It’s golden and syrupy, like how you feel after a warm hug. And it’s delicious—sweet with a tiny tang. Also, it works. It really works. After just one dose, their coughs subsided and Sweet G and Little T settled. After a second dose, they were back to sleep. And, in the morning, they actually asked for more. What beats a cough syrup that kids crave?

I continued giving them the medicine every hour or so throughout the day. By the middle of the day, both boys were coughing productively, so it was clear that the syrup, in addition to soothing soreness and suppressing illness, was also working as an expectorant. During the hour before bedtime, to insure a good night’s sleep, I dosed Sweet G and Little T every 15 minutes or so. They slept well, and their coughs tapered off and disappeared the next day.

Ingredients: ½ small onion (red, yellow, or white), chopped; ¼ cup honey (raw and local if possible)

Supplies: cutting board; knife; glass jar with tight-fitting lid; fine mesh strainer; large spouted measuring cup

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Chop the onion and place in jar.

Cough Syrup for Kids

Pour honey over onion, making sure to cover onion completely. Add additional honey if necessary. Place lid on jar and allow to sit at room temperature. Shake jar vigorously every 10 minutes.

Cough Syrup for Kids

After one hour, strain the mixture. Discard the onion (or save for soup, stir fry, etc.) and return the liquid to the jar. Use immediately.
Dosage: One spoonful every 15-30 minutes as needed.

Storage: Refrigerate for up to one week.

Note: Once you see for yourself how amazing this concoction is, you might find yourself wanting to make larger portions. But beware: this won’t last more than a week or so in the fridge. Make it as needed rather than in large batches. It’s most effective when fresh.

Tina DeBord lives, writes, and teaches in Michigan, where she lives with her husband and two children, three-year-old Gryphon and two-year-old Theodore. She leans toward “crunchy” parenting methods, like co-sleeping and homeopathy. Her best parenting advice: Read everything and then make your own recipe.