Mar 062013

Look at me, with all the posting this week! Why do I suddenly have time to write stuff, you might ask?

Well, it’s mainly because I have 3 children, all suffering from various degrees of illness, sprawled out on the sofa and in recliners, and they want me to sit in the living room with them all day to keep them company.

Yesterday was a LONG day. Cakes was still running a low-grade fever, and she and DJ seemed to be taking turns coughing constantly. Bee was also coughing, and complaining of being cold. I took her temperature and it was 97.5, and her face could best be described as a sort of greenish-gray. They all drank tons of water and juice, but no one ate a single bite of food the entire day. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve seen the two little kids eat an actual meal since Friday, and as skinny as they are, they can’t really afford to lose weight.

I feel unsettled and anxious when my children are sick, but non-stop coughing really drives me insane. I know they can’t help it, but listening to it all day is pretty hard on the nerves. Unfortunately, OTC cough remedies are rarely effective, and they aren’t safe for young children anyway, so what can you do? I’ve tried the Vicks-on-the-feet trick with no luck, and we run humidifiers in their rooms at night. I make sure they drink lots of fluids, and I give them throat lozenges, and in really severe cases, nebulizer treatments, but I’ve never found anything that had a long-term soothing effect on a chronic cough….until yesterday.

By 3:00 P.M., the coughing had become unbearable (for all of us) and in desperation I turned to a recipe for homemade cough syrup, which I’ve been meaning to try for a long time. I had miserable children who looked like this,

and though the original recipe called for organic raw honey, 5 fresh, organic lemons, and organic extra-virgin olive oil, none of which I had, I decided to make the recipe with what I did have – bottled lemon juice and EVOO from Aldi, and bulk honey from Costco.

The 32-ounce bottle of lemon juice boasted that it contained the “juice of 21 lemons!” so I got my calculator out and determined that 5 lemons would equal approximately one cup of juice. So, in a small saucepan over medium heat, I combined the following:

1 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups honey

I whisked it together, and heated it until it was steaming, but not boiling.

I transferred the warm syrup to a clean mason jar, and gave my children one tablespoon every hour. That’s what’s so great about this safe, natural remedy – you can administer it as often as needed, without worrying that you’re overdosing your children with drugs.

To say they liked it would be an understatement. DJ tried to lick every last drop from the medicine cup.

It tastes good, yes, but the best part is how well it WORKS. After two doses, Bee wasn’t coughing at all, and Cakes and DJ were coughing significantly less. I also noticed that their cough had gone from dry and barking, to actually sounding productive. Today, DJ isn’t coughing anymore (seriously – not at all), and Cakes is down to only a few minor bouts of coughing every hour.

Honey has long been a home remedy for sore throats, but according to the Mayo Clinic, its effectiveness as a cough suppressant has been proven in recent studies:

“In one study, children age 2 and older with upper respiratory tract infections were given up to 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) of honey at bedtime. The honey seemed to reduce nighttime coughing and improve sleep.

In fact, in the study, honey appeared to be as effective as a common cough suppressant ingredient, dextromethorphan, in typical over-the-counter doses. Since honey is low-cost and widely available, it might be worth a try.

However, due to the risk of infant botulism, a rare but serious form of food poisoning, never give honey to a child younger than age 1.

Lemon juice has a high concentration of vitamin C, which boosts the immune system, and the olive oil acts as a lubricant to soothe the throat, and is a source of powerful antioxidants. The syrup has additional soothing properties when warmed.

If kept in the fridge, this homemade syrup will keep for several months – long enough to get you through cold and flu season. And, if you have 3 kids hacking constantly, it might also save your sanity.