The ease of preparation, delicious taste and effectiveness will make these mixtures winter staples. They contain simple immune-enhancing ingredients that are beneficial for fighting off the common cold and flu. The pantry cough syrup also decreases respiratory symptoms.

 Note: These recipes are loved by children and adults. However, please do not give to a child under the age of 12 months due to risk of botulism.

 Easy Elderberry and Rose Hip Oxymel

A traditional oxymel recipe is a preparation of herbs extracted in a mixture of vinegar and honey. For this recipe, apple cider vinegar is recommended due its tried-and-true reputation of treating a vast number of acute and chronic conditions. Apple cider vinegar has potent antimicrobial benefits necessary to fight viruses associated with the common cold and flu. Honey has earned its respect in the medical community by being a powerful antimicrobial. The broad range of antimicrobial properties of honey has shown to inhibit bacterial and viral infections. Honey has also shown to inhibit influenza virus replication, making it a useful treatment for the flu.

This oxymel recipe calls for two herbs: elderberry and rose hips. They are readily obtained at any health food store that sells bulk herbs. Elderberry is a beloved herb that has become a popular remedy for preventing and treating the cold and flu due it is anti-viral properties. The flavonoid constituents found in elderberries have been shown to inhibit the ability of viruses to infect host cells. In addition, studies have shown that elderberries decrease the severity of symptoms and duration of illnesses. The health benefits of rose hips are due to its vitamin C and flavonoid content. Vitamin C has proven to lessen the duration and severity of the cold and flu as well. Also, studies have shown that rose hips are helpful for diseases related to oxidative stress, including skin disorders, Alzheimer’s, renal disease, diabetes, cancer and many more.


  • ½ cup dried elderberries
  • ½ cup dried rose hips
  • Organic apple cider vinegar
  • Local honey


  • Add ½ cup of elderberries and ½ cup of rose hips in a quart jar.
  • Add 1½ cups of honey over the dried herbs.
  • Add 1½ cups of apple cider vinegar over dried herbs.
  • Shake well.
  • Store away from sunlight/excessive heat and shake daily.
  • After 10 days, strain elderberries and rosehips, and bottle the dark purple liquid. Discard the strained elderberries and rosehips.
  • Enjoy within one year of preparation.


  • Preventative:
    • Adult: ½ tsp per day
    • Child: ¼ tsp per day
  • Therapeutic:
    • Adult: 1 tsp three times per day
    • Child: ½ tsp three times per day

Pantry Cough Syrup

This recipe calls for three staple ingredients: onions, garlic and honey. Garlic has been used for centuries to fight infectious disease caused by different bacterial agents. Its potent anti-microbial properties are due to allicin, one of its constituents. Allicin has shown to block enzymes that play a role in bacterial and viral infections. In addition, allicin exhibits immunomodulatory effects by increasing immune- enhancing cells. In order to reap the full medicinal benefits of garlic, the cloves must be crushed to release allicin. Onions contain quercetin, which is the component responsible for the antimicrobial properties. Studies have shown that quercetin inhibits the replication of rhinovirus (virus that is responsible for the majority of the common colds), decreases viral load after an infection and lowers the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines. It also improves lung function when respiratory symptoms are present.


  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup of raw local honey


  1. Place chopped onion and smashed garlic into a bowl.
  2. Pour in one cup of raw local honey, and cover onion and garlic.
  3. Cover bowl.
  4. Let sit for 6-12 hours.
  5. Strain liquid from the onions and garlic.
  6. Refrigerate syrup for up to two weeks.


  • 1 tablespoon every two-three hours while symptoms persists

Lindsey Wells, ND is a naturopathic physician at the Center for Integrative Health in Wilton. Her practice focuses on pediatric primary care and consultative care for autism spectrum disorder, other neurodevelopmental disorders and various chronic illnesses. Connect at 203-834-2813 and