For the most part, I consider myself a pretty good DIY-er.
Hooking up TV’s to VCR’s, coming up with creative storage solutions for LEGO’s or organizing closets just so in order to maximize the space on top of the shelf without anything falling on my head when I open the door… yep, I got that covered.
I’ve even figured out how to keep problematic acne under control and created a pretty powerful remedy to fight off seasonal allergies too.
However, that’s about the extent of my DIY skills and medicine. My only other attempt was a HUGE failure. When my kids (then 4 and 6) were passing back a nasty cough back and forth last year, I diluted apple cider vinegar in water and told them to drink up.
To which they took one whiff and bolted to another room. So much for that one.
As a natural-minded mother, I’m fairly leery of over-the-counter medicines. When I think of why I feel uneasy about big pharma companies, it always boils down to three problems:
- They contain wacky ingredients.
- They cover up, rather than cure the problem.
- They taste downright awful.
Problem with Most Over-the-Counter Medicines: Ingredients
Have you ever heard of dextromethorphan? It’s the active ingredient in cold and cough medicines like Delsym and Robitussin and works by slowing the part of the brain that tells the body to cough. This ingredient was probably created without poor intentions in mind, but here’s where I struggle.
First, on the fact sheet for dextromethorphan, the US National Library of Medicine says:
Do not give these products to children younger than 4 years of age. If you give these products to children 4-11 years of age, use caution and follow the package directions carefully.
Ok, got it. Bad for the girl (who was 4 at the time) and okay for the boy (who was 6).
The fact sheet goes on to say:
Do not give dextromethorphan products that are made for adults to children.
Ok, got that too. Triple check the label and don’t give the adult version to the kids.
But here’s where I get confused.
Read the label for an ADULT cough suppressant. Notice it contains 30 ml of dextromethorphan per 5 ml dose.
Now read the label for a CHILD’S cough suppressant. Notice that it too contains 30 ml of dextromethorphan per 5 ml dose.
So the adult medicine is the same as the child’s medicine?
Does that mean the adult version is weak enough to give to a child? Or is the child version strong enough for an adult? Am I the only one that is slightly confused and concerned by this?
I know this is just one ingredient in one medicine, and I’m certainly not trying to single out the Delsym brand here, but it’s a perfect example at how confusing children’s medicine can be. And I don’t want to make a half-educated decision when it comes to medicine either.
Unfortunately, the news isn’t much better with the inactive ingredients either.
Tylenol’s cold and cough medicine contains acesulfame potassium, which is just one of several artificial sweeteners commonly found in those little pink packets. It’s shown to cause headaches, mental confusion, nausea, depression and consequences on the liver and kidneys over the long-term. (source) Another inactive ingredient is red dye #40, which for many children triggers hyperactivity or symptoms commonly associated with food allergies.
Frankly, all this just adds to my level of concern with typical over-the-counter medicines in the first place.
Problem with Most Over-the-Counter Medicines: They’re Not a Cure
I already mentioned this, but just in case you missed it, dextromethorphan will not treat the cause of a cough or speed recovery. It simply slows the part of the brain that tells the body to cough (source).
So essentially, it works to cover up the symptom rather than providing a cure to the illness.
Now, this shouldn’t be too much of a shocker since there is no cure for the common cold. Our best course of action is to do our best to stay healthy in the first place, but even if we catch a cold, it simply has to run its course. Our job then turns to alleviating the symptoms while providing the body proper nourishment so it can heal.
Notice I said alleviate, not cover up. There’s a difference. Alleviating means to make the suffering less severe. Covering up is to mask the fact that it even exists.
There’s a reason why our grandmother’s fed our parents chicken noodle soup when they were sick. Homemade stock is nourishing and full of healing vitamins and nutrients. Honey-infused garlic will boost the immune system while fighting off the bad bugs. These food-based remedies don’t come with scary side effects like dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and they’re the ones I want to reach for when my kids are sick.
I don’t want to use the ones that come with overdose warnings and “keep out of reach” labels because of ingredients that could potentially cause more problems while masking one.
Problem with Most Over-the-Counter Medicines: They Taste Bad
It doesn’t matter how effective a medicine is: Unless it tastes good, no child will take it. The most potent dose of fix-anything-syrup is no match against a tight-lipped child.
I learned this first-hand when I tried making my own cough syrup last year. Apparently diluted apple cider vinegar isn’t very appealing to the taste buds.
Even more so when you’re sick.
Finding a Better, Natural Alternative to Over-the-Counter Medicines
If I knew how to create a homemade recipe for cough syrup using only ingredients in my kitchen, I would. I’m fairly sure though it would take me several misses before I reached a tolerable formula!
Fortunately, Maty’s Healthy Products has taken care of this for me, and in the process have eliminated all three of the concerns I have with mainstream over-the-counter cough medicines.
There are 14 ingredients found in Maty’s all-natural cough syrup:
buckwheat honey, clover honey, wildflower honey, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, lemon peel, cinnamon, lemon balm, grapefruit seed extract, cayenne pepper, marjoram, olive oil, distilled water and zinc
As you can see in the photos, I had 8 of the 13 ingredients in my kitchen already (the olive oil and distilled water aren’t pictured).
This is the type of remedy our grandmothers would have created generations ago, and it’s the type of remedy I prefer to offer my children today. Also, since it’s difficult to come by with typical medicines, it’s worth nothing that this all-natural medicine is gluten-free, dairy-free and contains no artificial sweeteners or color additives.
It contains healthy, common, real food ingredients. And nothing else.
Curing, Not Covering Up
As a whole, the ingredients in Maty’s all-natural cough syrup are proven to alleviate coughs. Individually, the ingredients are shown to help the body heal naturally too:
- cinnamon promotes healthy breathing
- zinc promotes immune support
- apple cider vinegar promotes healthy mucous flow
- sea salt naturally neutralizes toxins in the body
- cayenne pepper aids circulation
- lemon peel, grapefruit seed extract and marjoram are natural anti-oxidant and detoxifiers
I offered a small taste to my 5 year old, my child who tends to be on the pickier side when it comes to food. Her words, and I quote:
Mmm! It tastes like honey! Can I have more?
Now I don’t know about you, but this is uncharted territory for me. I’ve never had a child tell me the medicine was good, and even ask for more! What a nice chance of pace!
I tasted Maty’s all-natural cough syrup myself, and noted the distinct taste of dark honey with the slight spice of cayenne. Parents of children with sensitive taste buds shouldn’t worry though – every ingredient is perfectly balanced in this remedy.
It’s really hard to put a price tag on the health of my kids. We eat a real food diet as preventative medicine. I’ve tried to make my own cough syrup, and it didn’t work. In my opinion, an all-natural cough medicine made with ingredients I can find at any local store is the next best option.
If a few extra bucks means peace of mind with the ingredients in my medicine, knowing it’s going to actually help them get over a cold and not just mask it, and offering a medicine that tastes good and I don’t have to struggle to get my kids to take it? Well, that’s a small price I’m willing to pay.
Do you have any home remedies for coughs? Have you found a brand of medicine you trust?
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Maty’s Healthy Products. I’m excited to have found their brand as quality I can trust and share it with you. As always, I would never recommend anything on Crumbs that I wouldn’t recommend to a close friend or neighbor, and all opinions here are my own.