Natural Plant-Based Cough Medicine
This lovely old advert for “Balsam of Linseed, Horehound and Honey” cough medicine has found its way onto the Flax Farm office wall. It is quite timely as being a late November people are starting to get tiresome coughs.
This is a use for linseed (also known as flax) most people don’t know about. Typically for chest and throat remedies linseed was combined with either demulcent, mucilaginous or aromatic natural herbal extracts but as time went by newly discovered, easily obtainable chemical compounds were also added.
Old traditional cough remedy
Linseed has been a favourite cough remedy for many centuries. Its Latin name,Linum usitatissimum, means “the most useful” linum and this is yet another use for linseed.
Linseed tea (recipe) was known to be a favourite remedy for coughs but pharmacies sold bottled syrups of linseed cough medicines formulated to their own recipes. Some old bottles show linseed was sold as an extract or balsam others show it was combined with mucilaginous plant extracts and even chemical compounds. Some of the added compounds sound rather alarming to us nowadays but I expect our current over the counter cough medicines will sound just as bad to future generations. Something as innocuous and efficacious as linseed tea will always be useful.
Many modern cough medicines are still thickened with linseed soluble fibre extract (mucilage), What we don’t know is how much the effectiveness of the medicine comes from the chemical ingredients and how much from linseed working its gentle magic.
Old Proprietary Linseed Cough Remedies
- Linseed And Liquorice
- Kay’s Compound Essence Of Linseed, Aniseed, Senega, Squill and Tolu, (circa 1925)
- Chadwicks of Leeds. Balsam of linseed & honey
- Kay Brothers of Stockport. Linseed compound
- Dutton & Son’s, wholesale druggists of Bolton. Chest & lung mixture, SL and Coltsfoot
- Linseed, Horehound and honey
- Dr Chase’s Syrup of Linseed and Turpentine the Evening Telegram St John’s Newfoundland (circa 1945)
- Linseed, Liquorice & Chlorodyne Lozenges. Chlorodyne was a patent medicine which was mainly laudanum, but with the addition of cannabis tincture and chloroform.
Homemade Simple Natural Cough Medicine Recipe
Linseed is still a great standby for a quick homemade remedy to soothe the throat or a tickly chest. Nowadays we appreciate remedies that are chemical-free, sugar-free and suitable for people with diabetes and allergies. Linseed is lovely and soothing and just has two ingredients, linseed and water. Make the basic linseed tea (recipe) which is good on its own but you can add any of your favourite cough and cold ingredients like whisky, honey lemon or ginger.
600ml hot water from the kettle
Place linseed and water in a saucepan, bring to the boil, immediately turn down and simmer for 1 hour. Remove from heat and strain. Add honey, lemon, ginger or a herbal teabag to make it a more flavoursome drink. Have a warm cup three or more times a day. Store in fridge up to for 5 days.
Drink three times a day or when needed until cough is gone.