Homemade NeoCitran

What a lousy time to have the flu, or even a common cold. Maybe you have noticed that some of your old stand-by medicines are no longer available. It’s true, believe it or not, there is a shortage of several cough and cold medicines such as Buckley’s and that old stand-by, NeoCitran, inextricably linked with images of Saint Bernards and letter carriers warming their feet in buckets of hot water. Truth be told, all is not lost. Many in the health profession aver that cough syrups and medications such as NeoCitran are largely panaceas, that the best cure is rest, lots of water, cleanliness and a good diet.

But let’s face it, it is comforting to snuggle up under a blanket with a hot, soothing drink that may have a soporific effect. Not to worry, you can easily make your own hot lemon drink that is just as relaxing, easy on the nasal passages and for all intents and purposes, just as effective as the powdered sugary drink we have come to rely on. In fact, a hot beverage made of fresh lemon, ginger, honey and garlic (yes garlic! actually garlic is for the more advanced homemade cold remedy user, this concoction is still very effective without it) can have you feeling right as rain in no time, as the medicinal properties of all of these ingredients have been known and used by people for centuries. Sometimes the old ways are the best.

You can make as much as you like, and make it as strong as you like. Leaving a pot of it on the stove, or in your coffee maker is a great idea, as the longer it steeps, the more flavourful it becomes, and the more nutrients are released from the ingredients.

And as a added bonus, your kitchen will smell of fresh lemon and ginger, any waste will be compostable, and you will save money.

Who knows, maybe this shortage is the silver lining to a speedy recovery.



Here’s how to make a simple pot of hot, comforting lemon ginger tisane. This makes about ten six ounce cups, but the beauty of it is, you can always add more water if it gets too strong, or more honey or sweetener such as pine tree syrup.
Pine tree syrup is naturally sweet and really delicious, with a slightly tangy taste and a beautiful pinky amber colour. It is known to assist in combating chest congestion and bronchitis. Furthermore, it is suitable as a sweetener for those who eschew sugar, fake sugar or vegans who don’t want to use honey.


  1. Cut 1 lemon into wedges or slices, remove seeds and squeeze into a teapot, or your coffee maker’s carafe, (I like to use the latter because I can leave it on the coffee maker’s heater) dropping the wedges right in, rind and all. The lemon oils from the rind are good for you!
  2. Thinly slice 1 clove of garlic (optional) and about 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger and add to pot.
  3. Boil 10 six ounce cups of water, then pour over lemon, garlic and ginger.
  4. Stir in 1 tablespoon of honey or pine tree syrup and let steep for 10 minutes. Again, you can leave this on the heat for hours…it only gets better!
  5. Curl up with a good book and your favourite blanket. If you are really in rough shape, you may want to pop an aspirin or your usual headache medicine. NeoCitran, after all, does have 325 mg of acetaminophen. But it also has Acesulfame K, calcium phosphate, citric acid, D&C Yellow No. 10, FD&C Yellow No. 6, flavours, maltodextrin, silicon dioxide, sodium citrate, sucrose. Yummy.

Of course the best cure is prevention. Eat well, exercise and drink plenty of water. And if you do come down with a cold, mix up a batch of this!

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