Homemade Onion Cough Syrup

We’re all going to be super sensitive to a cough right now as it’s one of the key symptoms of coronavirus. To add to the worry and discomfort, coughs are annoying, they keep you or your child awake at night. They are often persistent, lingering for weeks on end.

Paracetamol won’t help a cough, and there’s some mixed messages surrounding Ibuprofen and coronavirus at the moment so it’s best to avoid for now (more on that here).

Over-the-counter cough and cold medicines are not suitable for children under six years old, due to the risk of side-effects.

So, what other options are there?


Before bedtime sit with your child in a steamy bathroom for 10-15 minutes. The moist air helps to loosen mucus and clear tiny nasal passages. If you’ve ever had a cough that occurs only at night, you’ll know that lying flat can make it worse. Raising the mattress ever so slightly with a foam wedge or towel will ease a night-time cough and help your child breathe through a stuffy nose.

Loosen up clogged mucus with a few drops of saline solution (you can buy cheaply from any chemist), and then suck it out with a nasal bulb syringe.

Homemade Onion Cough Syrup

Onions and garlic are both in the allium family and share many of the same health benefits. They contain high levels of vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, potassium, phosphorous, potassium, folic acid, magnesium and calcium.

They are probably best known for their high levels of the antioxidant quercetin.

An animal study shows that quercetin has reduced lung inflammation in those exposed to the cold virus. It has proven anti-viral properties. In fact, it’s an incredibly powerful antioxidant that can tackle a wide variety of diseases. (Incidentally, quercetin is also present in red wine – more on the benefits here soon).

All onions contain quercetin, red, white or yellow, it really doesn’t matter which you use.

Onion syrup is surprisingly delicious. It must be taken fresh, but it’s easy to make and keeps for around 48 hours. You can take onion syrup to support symptoms when suffering any cold or flu, especially if a cough or nasal congestion are present.

Onion syrup recipe

1 onion
Caster sugar
Small jar with lid

Method: Slice the onion into round disks (chunks will do too). Sprinkle a layer of sugar into the bottom of the jar, then layer a disc of onion – sugar – onion – sugar – onion – sugar etc. until the jar is full. Put the lid on and let the concoction sit for around 8 hours (or overnight). Miraculously, the sugar will draw all the medicinal properties of the onion into it, creating a wonderfully sweet syrup.

Dose: Just a teaspoon of the syrup every 1-2 hours will suffice. You don’t want to be drinking this stuff, it’s pretty potent and too much may cause digestive issues. If your child has a problem with the smell, get them to hold their nose when then take it.

Alternatives: you can also make this syrup using chopped garlic and honey – though beware this stuff is strong! Probably too much for the children. NB/ never give honey to a child under 1. It’s rare but, they can get botulism from bacteria in it.

As always, if you are worried about your health, or your child’s, please call NHS 111 or (if seriously worried) 999.

Have you found a simple home remedy that helps a cough or a cold? I’d love to hear about the. Please comment or send me a message.

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