Updated: Nov 17
Natural, organic, no artificial flavors or colors, we've all seen these labels on the products we buy for our families and ourselves. In fact, many of us seek out these terms when choosing a product to be sure that we get the highest quality ingredients without any harmful additives or chemicals.
While choosing to eat and consume organic products is usually best for reducing exposure to pesticides, it can be expensive and time consuming. While eating organic cheaper is always a great option, what about when it comes to medicines?
Many over the counter medicines, like cough medicine, can have many extra ingredients. One study in the journal Lung found that there may be over 100 excipients, in different types of cough medicines.
An excipient is an inactive substance that acts as a medium for the active ingredient in the drug. Examples of excipients include things like coloring and preservatives.
The Lung study found that the most common excipients in cough medicines were sweeteners that mimic the natural viscosity of honey. Some of the most common sweeteners were liquid glucose, sucrose, saccharine sodium, sugar, sorbitol, maltitol liquid, and acesulfame K.
The purpose of the sweeteners were to reduce the perception of the bitter taste of the active ingredients, namely dextromethorphan, an anti cough medication.
While sweeteners may sound like a necessary part of any cough syrup, there can be problems that arise from certain ingredients like sugar or artificial sweeteners. For example, sugar is known to depress the immune system.
Artificial sweeteners like acesulfame K are linked to changes in the gut microbiome and weight gain in mice. Sucralose has been linked to headaches in susceptible populations and saccharine in long-term dosing has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and liver problems in rats.
Then there are excipients that act as thickeners. Some of the most common thickeners were glycerine and propylene glycol. Propylene glycol has been named the allergen of the year by the American Contact Dermatitis Society in 2017.
Then there are flavorings. Flavorings can be natural or artificial. Artificial flavorings can have many different chemicals that can be added together to create a specific flavor profile.
If you want to avoid these chemicals but also give your family a powerful natural cough medicine, then here's an easy to make recipe that your whole family will enjoy.
Honey is the perfect ingredient to use as the base of your all natural cough syrup. This is because honey has a perfect blend of sweetness, viscosity, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties.
High in vitamin C, lemon is the perfect accompaniment to a honey based cough syrup. It also balances out the sweet flavor with its acidic profile.
Mullein or Verbascum thapsus is an herb that has been used for centuries for lung and respiratory health. There is research suggesting that mullein acts as an antimicrobial.