I hate waking up in the night coughing. But even more than that, I hate waking up in the night with one of my kids coughing. I can deal with it, but even though my kids are teens and older, I still feel so bad for them when they can’t sleep because they are coughing. When my oldest daughter was very young, she got sick and started to cough. She couldn’t sleep, consequently, I couldn’t sleep either. After several days of this I decided to try one of those “phone a nurse” numbers. She didn’t have much in the way of suggestions for me, but one of her comments started me on a path to finding something that really works well. She suggested apple juice, explaining that sometimes if the cough has a lot of phlegm with it, that it will cut through the phlegm and help clear it out of the throat.

The next day I started to research natural cough suppressants and came up with a recipe that I have used for 20 years to help not only my kids stop coughing, but myself and my husband as well. This doesn’t fix all cough however, I had pneumonia about 5 years ago and it didn’t help as much as with a regular cold. I shouldn’t say it didn’t help, because it was the only thing that did. But it didn’t stop the cough as well with pneumonia, just lengthened the time in between coughing spells and dry heaves. Before we go on, the disclaimer: this is a natural remedy that has helped my family and may or may not help you or your family at all. This is not a cure, and you should definitely see a doctor if you or your child’s symptoms don’t improve. I did learn with pneumonia that the kind I had was deadly as most people don’t realize the seriousness of the sickness until it was too late. Fortunately, I went in early and received medication that got me over it quickly. Always consult with your doctor.

On to the recipe:

1 cup apple juice

1 stick of cinnamon (not ground cinnamon)

Heat in a mug until quite warm but no boiling. Allow to steep until cool enough to drink.

Optional: add about 1/2 inch of fresh ginger root that has been crushed.

That’s it. Crazy simple, but it works wonders. The apple juice does break up phlegm in the throat. Cinnamon is a natural cough suppressant. When my kids were young, I would put it in a sippy cup when it had cooled off to room temperature. They would take it to bed with the instructions not to guzzle it, but sip some and try to go to sleep. More often than not there would still be 3/4 of the sippy cup left in the morning. This way they would also have it with them if they woke up coughing again, but they rarely did. I didn’t give this to them when they were infants however and would not recommend that. They were around 2 years old and older when I started using this with each of them, old enough to follow instructions. My kids didn’t like the ginger, so I don’t include it in theirs. It definitely has a bite to it if you get enough in there, but I really like it. Also, it has to be a cinnamon stick. I have tried it with cinnamon, and it doesn’t work. I have decided it is because the cinnamon stick infuses into the liquid whereas the ground cinnamon just sits on the top of the apple juice, never really mixing in.

The other thing you can do, if you have a cold going around your house and you know it’s going to be several days or weeks before it’s passed through everyone, is to make it in a larger batch. I often would fill a large water bottle, or even put several cinnamon sticks directly into the jug of apple juice. It doesn’t have to be hot to steep, this just speeds the process up dramatically. I would put it in the fridge for a couple of days. When you can smell the cinnamon, you know it is ready. I have apple juice and cinnamon sticks in my pantry now all the time. My kids know is not for them to drink or use. These ingredients have become a necessity at our house when cold and flu season is approaching, but really, we just keep them on hand all year long, because you never know when you might need them.

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