Home Remedies: Cough Linctus & Sore Throat Decoction from your Kitchen

Herbs and Spices have a miriad of healing properties.

From the moment that Julie Andrews burst into that infamous song, “A Spoonful of sugar” I was hooked and much of my early childhood was spent in the woods around our home desperately trying to make healing remedies and scented waters.  As it turned out Grasse was quite safe as all I remember making was bottles and jars of rotten petals and muddy mixtures of leaves and pretty stones!  My fascination for crystals and gems blossomed with the resurgence of a universal understanding of their healing properties in the 90’s and my library of books on the subject of metaphysics grew.

About ten years ago I ripped out my entire ‘tropical’ garden, which is pretty much the standard here in KZN and with the guidance of Trish Swanepoel, who very kindly swapped her gardening skills and knowledge for art lessons at my studio we transformed my garden into an insect and butterfly haven.  Together we installed an exclusively indigenous organic garden complete with fire pit and healing plants.  Sipho, my housekeepers husband, was fascinated by all this and asked me if I was intending to become an Inyanga (the Zulu word for a herbalist).  To say that I was tickled pink by his enquiry is such an understatement.  He would often arrive at home after a visit to the local shabeen (a local informal drinking tavern), weaving his way up the road with a handful of plants to add to our garden.  It was Sipho that introduced me to the subtle flavour and beautiful colour of wild garlic (Tulbaghia) in stir fries!

Kirlian photography illustrated to the world that food made with love intention is bursting with energy and highly nutritious.  My kitchen is the beating heart of our home and on occasion my very own laboratory where I make either food that will heal, or like today, cough and cold decoctions that will heal.  I have a very special lady in mind, Alicia works in the food section of my local supermarket and no request or enquiry is too much trouble for this dear lady.  As is the case with so many working women she cannot take enough time off work to recover properly from her latest bout of crippling flu, and yet she still greets everyone with a smile and has to be one of the kindest people I know.  Travelling to and from work in taxi’s exposes her to more and more germs and she needs a little love and pampering to help her regain full strength.

So what is a decoction?  A decoction is made by simmering herbal ingredients in water.  It is often used for roots and barks, which need cooking to extract their vital properties. (The Home Apothecary – Growing and using traditional remedies by Jessica Houdret, Lorenz Books)

Thyme and Borage Cough Linctus

Ginger and Lemon Decoction for Sore Throats

Ginger is warming and stimulating and encourages sweating to eliminate toxins and dispel mucus and catarrh.


115g fresh root ginger

600ml water

Juice and rind of 1 lemon

Pinch of cayenne pepper



Slice the ginger root and put into a pan with the water lemon rind and cayenne pepper.

Bring to the boil, cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice.

Drink a small steaming cupful at a time, sweetened with honey to taste.

This decoction will keep for 2 – 3 days in the fridge.

Thyme and Borage Cough Linctus

Borage was traditionally used in cough syrup recipes, and thyme has antiseptic properties.


25g fresh thyme

25g fresh borage leaves and flowers

2 x 5cm sticks of cinnamon

600ml water

The juice of 1 small lemon

100g honey


Put the herbs into a pan with the cinnamon and water.

Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes.  Strain off the herbs and return the liquid to the pan.

Simmer, uncovered until reduced by half.

Add the lemon juice and honey and simmer gently for 5 minutes.  Bottle and store in a cool place.

Bottled, it will keep for at least 2 months.

Take 5ml as required.

Feel well soon Alicia




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