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How to Make Real Wild Cherry Cough Syrup at Home in Your Kitchen with Wild Cherry Bark

Updated on February 19, 2016

The old herbals extol the virtues of the wild cherry as one of the finest of all cough remedies--with good reason! Nothing works better to put the kibosh on a cough!

But here’s the weird part: The part of the tree that’s used to make cough remedies is not the berries, but the bark—that is, the inner bark.

There are several species of wild cherry; the medicinal kind is Prunus serotina, sometimes called “black cherry.” If you are harvesting the bark yourself, be sure you are familiar with the tree, so you get the right one.

Wild cherry bark can be taken in the form of a tea, for coughs and colds. It is unusual among medicinals made from roots and barks, in that it should never be boiled, but only steeped. In the case of wild cherry bark, boiling destroys the medicinal principals.

Perhaps the main reason that wild cherry bark is usually made into a syrup, rather than storing the bark for use in making a tea, is that the bark loses its potency after a year of storage. When the fresh bark is made into a syrup, however, it will keep almost indefinitely.


  • Fill a pint jar with wild cherry bark and add a flavored brandy to cover (Cherry brandy is nice but other flavors are fine.) Let this stand, tightly covered, shaking every now and then, for about a month (one moon cycle), strain, mix with equal parts honey, and bottle.
  • You can purchase the bark from herb dealers or at many health food stores, but be sure it’s fresh. Wild cherry bark loses its potency after one year of storage. It should have an almond scent.
  • I think it is best to locate a wild cherry tree and harvest the bark in summer. You are after the inner bark, the first layer of bark under the papery outer bark. Try to stick to one smallish area on one side of the tree, so you don’t kill the tree.
  • The inner bark will be a pale tan, quickly turning an orangey color with exposure to the air. It should have a pleasant bitterish almond scent.
  • Never boil wild cherry bark, as high temperatures destroy the medicinal principles.
  • The dose is about 1 teaspoonful for children and 1 tablespoonful for adults.
  • Keep this medicine out of the reach of children. In large doses, it dangerously slows the action of the heart and can be fatal. And it’s delicious flavor may be a temptation to children.

Your homemade wild cherry cough syrup will be the finest cough syrup you have ever used. Got an annoying cough at night? If you get up and take a spoonful of this cough syrup, your cough will be gone before you can make it back to bed.

A bottle of homemade wild cherry cough syrup makes an excellent gift. I mean, what the heck, this recipe will make a whole quart of the stuff.

Even if you never make or use any other natural remedy, this product alone will make your reputation as a natural healer.


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    • blueheron profile image

      Sharon Vile 2 years ago from Odessa, MO

      The alcohol content acts as a preservative in the cough syrup, and I'm not sure about the minimum alcohol content you need to preserve this cough syrup, although the sugar content from the honey also help preserve it. If you used cherry wine, you could ensure that you had enough alcohol in there to preserve it by adding some Everclear, which about the highest proof you can buy. You could also use other methods to ensure that the cough syrup doesn't spoil, such as freezing in small containers, or freezing in an ice-cube tray and storing the cubes in a freezer bag.

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      Angel 2 years ago

      what is the difference between brandy and wine? could I use cherry wine as a substitute for the brandy in the cough syrup?