Choosing gluten-free foods can often feel like a minefield. Still, medicines should be safe from wheat, right? Wrong. If you’re sick and you have gluten sensitivities, you should look for gluten-free cough drops.
Cough drop ingredients that could have gluten or gluten cross-contamination include honey, certain flavorings, and caramel color. While popular brands like Ricola and Halls are definitely not gluten-free, there are brands which produce gluten-free cough drops.
I’ll discuss brands which make gluten-free cough drops, and whether their products are suitable for other dietary sensitivities.
What Makes Cough Drops Not Gluten-Free?
I know what you’re thinking. It’s real weird that a medicine could have gluten in it. However, a lot of cough drop brands do use ingredients like coloring and flavoring, which contain wheat. This includes popular, all-natural brand Ricola. Their dual-action cough drops definitely contain wheat.
There is also some concern with cross-contamination. This is especially the case with popular brand Halls. They are at least up front that flavorings and colors they use in their cough drops might have come in contact with gluten.
The same is true of cough drops with honey in them. Even though honey is naturally gluten-free, the honey in your cough drop may have come in contact with wheat somewhere down the line.
The brand you choose, and what works for you, really depends on your overall level of sensitivity. Some people with gluten intolerance can still use Ricola or Halls without a reaction. Others need something that’s definitely gluten-free.
Gluten-Free Cough Drop Brands
Keep in mind there are currently no certified gluten-free cough drops on the market in the United States. However, there are a few brands made in gluten-free facilities with gluten-free ingredients. Here are a few options for your next sore throat.
Read More >> Are Halls Cough Drops Gluten Free?
Fisherman’s Friend is a cough drop brand which dates back to 1865! They tout all of their cough drop flavors as gluten-free, as well as vegan, Kosher, and Halal.
They also have sugar-free flavors available if you’re diabetic or watching your sugar intake.
Jakemans Throat and Chest hails from Boston, England. They’ve been in operation since 1907. Their claim to fame is their drop-shaped lozenges, which aren’t stamped out into an oval shape like most cough drops.
Of their four cough drop flavors, three do not contain anything that might have wheat or contact with wheat. The anise flavor does have caramel color, which is an iffy ingredient for those with gluten intolerance. It’s best to stick with the honey and lemon, peppermint, or cherry.
While Jakemans says their cough drops are “suitable for vegetarians,” it does not seem like any of them are vegan or vegan-friendly.
Pine Brothers started back in 1870, when a former German confectioner came up with a softer throat lozenge. Now, they sell their gummy-like throat drops in natural honey and wild cherry flavors. They also tout their throat drops as antioxidant and prebiotic.
While they do not put “gluten-free” on their packaging, there is nothing in their ingredients list that contains wheat. However, if honey triggers your allergies, you might want to stick with their wild cherry flavor.
Wedderspoon Organic is a New Zealand brand that uses Manuka honey as a main ingredient in all its medicines, supplements, candies, and throat drops. Again, if honey is an allergen trigger for you, or you’re vegan, you might want to avoid this brand.
Wedderspoon lozenges come in ginger, lemon, plain honey, eucalyptus, and fennel cinnamon flavors. All their ingredients are natural, and, besides the honey, there’s no other ingredients that could contain gluten.
This is the oldest of this selection of brands, dating all the way back to 1847. They even claim they’re “America’s First Cough Drop!” Smith Brothers sells a variety of lozenge flavors: black licorice, warm apple pie, honey lemon, and wild cherry.
Their lozenges are both dye free and gluten-free. You might want to avoid the honey lemon flavor if that’s a trigger for you or you’re vegan. Most flavors use pectin, which is a vegetarian alternative to gelatin.
Luden’s might be the easiest brand to find, since a wide selection of pharmacies, convenience, and grocery stores sell them. They come in a variety of flavors, and even sugar-free options!
While there are no wheat-containing ingredients, Luden’s lozenges do include artificial colors and soybean oil. This might not be the brand for you if you are allergic to additives or to soy.
Keep in mind that colors can also have gluten or contact with gluten. If you are extremely gluten sensitive, you might want to choose another brand.
The Vick’s brand might be familiar to you because of their Vaporub. They also sell cough lozenges called VapoDrops in menthol and cherry flavors.
The active ingredient is menthol, which is usually a gluten-free flavoring. Manufacturers derive menthol from mint essential oil. There is nothing else in VapoDrops which could contain wheat, so they are a safe choice for those with gluten intolerance.
Zand Immunity is an all-natural brand of medicine and other supplements. They sell cough drops in many flavors, including standard ones like lemon, menthol, and cherry, and less common, like elderberry, cranberry, blueberry, and tropical.
Another benefit of Zand’s products is the zinc present in everything they sell. Zinc is an important element for your immune function. A few of their lozenges also include good amounts of vitamin C for more immune support.
All their lozenges are gluten-free according to their website. They are also all vegan, with the exception of the flavors which include honey.
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There are many long-established brands which make gluten-free cough drops. When choosing, you’ll want to be careful about ingredients like caramel color and honey. Keep in mind no cough drops are currently certified gluten-free in the United States.
Much of the concern over gluten in cough drops comes from the possibility of cross-contamination. Whether or not you can take a specific cough drop really depends on your sensitivity level.