Friday, February 03, 2017

5 Herbal Winter Remedies Every Home Needs

Essential Herbal Magazine readers probably know these remedies, and many other ways to stay up and at 'em over the winter time.  Even with the best preventative care, we all catch a bug sooner or later.  When we do, or even just suffer a little discomfort from the dry winter air, it's good to know some simple ways to take care of yourself.

We hope you'll try some of these.


1. Fire CiderWe make this every year, and have counted on it to ward off viruses, heartburn, and all kinds of aches and pains in our home. You don't really need a recipe.  Get a quart mason jar.  Add a chopped onion, a few chopped garlic cloves, a few cayenne peppers, and a few inches of horseradish and the same of ginger.  Chop up a lemon and/or orange.  Cover with good apple cider vinegar and use a non-metal lid (or line lid with waxed paper) for a few weeks.  Strain and add 30 to 50 percent honey.  Or, put your feet up and watch Rosemary Gladstar make it!



2.  Elderberry Syrup:
I refuse to enter winter without a goodly supply of berries and myriad preparations made with them.  They kept me virus free for 3 years when I absolutely could not bring an illness into the house, and that was all the proof I needed.  Here's my recipe...

3 cups fresh (I use frozen) elderberries (or 1 - 1 1/2 cups dry)
1 lemon sliced
1" or more of ginger, sliced
6" cinnamon stick broken up or 1 tsp powder
4 or 5 cardamom pods
I add a few inches of vanilla bean for no other reason except flavor.


If using fresh or frozen berries, add a cup or less of water to the ingredients in a pan.  If dried, add 3 cups of water.  Simmer very gently for an hour.
Measure the liquid after it is simmered, and then add EITHER
an equal amount of honey
OR
one and a half the amount in sugar. 
If using honey, stir into the hot juice.
If you use sugar, heat until boiling, and allow to simmer for 3 minutes or so.
When you've been exposed to someone sick, take 1 T several times a day for 3 days.  That's the same thing to do if you start coming down with something.
   
This recipe will work even if the only thing you use is the elderberries.  The rest of the spices and lemon do have purpose, but the elderberry is great on its own.


3.  All Purpose Salve

Things get pretty arid in the winter, and our skin shows it.  Our lips, faces, hands and feet are the worst, but elbows, knees and all kinds of patches of skin need help. This salve is also very nice for scratches and scrapes.  In the spring it can help with stings, bites, and rashes of many sorts, too.

Recipe:
¼ oz Plantain
¼ oz Chickweed
¼ oz Calendula flowers
6 oz olive oil
2 T beeswax
40 to 50 drops Lavender essential oil

Combine the herbs and olive oil & simmer 25 minutes; strain herbs. Add beeswax, stir until melted. Add essential oil. Pour into containers and let cool.
Note: You can use one or all of the above herbs - or none at all. 


4.  Warming Winter Tea
There are several reasons you might want a specific tea in the winter. 
Sore throats can be a problem.  In my part of the world, sage, thyme, and horehound are all still doing well in the garden, even if they're covered by snow.  I have to be in agony to add horehound to a tea - but it will do the trick.  Usually its this:
5 or 6 nice sage leaves
1 sprig of thyme
1/2 lemon
1 T honey
1 pint of hot water
I don't remove the herbs, but use a licorice root stick to push them out of the way.  This is really a delicious tea.



For cough and colds I add
1 T chopped fresh ginger root

1 t elecampane root (dry)
1 t slippery elm bark
to the sore throat tea.

As with the recipes above, you can use as many or as few herbs as you have on hand to help with the situation.  For sore throat, I'd suggest especially the sage.  For the cough/cold, ginger and elecampane (with lots of honey).

5.  Colds/Cough Syrup
Roots and Barks Syrup:
3 or 4 nice pieces of osha root, broken up
2 T elecampane root (dried, chunks)
6" licorice root, broken up
6" cinnamon stick, broken up
1 lemon sliced
1 or 2 inches ginger root, chopped coarsely
handful fresh horehound (probably about 1 Tbsp dried)
handful fresh thyme (1tsp dried)
1 T wild cherry bark
Add 3 - 4 cups water to the ingredients in a pan.  Simmer very gently for an hour.


Once you have the decoction prepared as described above and have strained the roots and barks well, you can proceed in a number of ways.
Method One - Sugar
Add 1.5 parts sugar to 1 part decoction.  So if you have one cup of liquid, you'd add 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar.  Combine and heat to a rolling boil.  Hold for three minutes.  Cool and bottle.  The sugar acts as a preservative, but I refrigerate the syrup for longer shelf life.
You can also add about 10% 100 proof alcohol to further preserve the syrup if you'd like.
 Method Two - Honey
For a syrup made with honey (local please!), you would use 1 part honey to 1 part decoction.  For a honey syrup, I really like to add a little alcohol to increase the shelf life.  The honey syrup shouldn't be boiled - just add the honey to the warm decoction and stir to blend thoroughly.

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