Sunday, June 11, 2017

Troches - Little Cakes

Earlier today I made a batch of troches because I needed to be sure about a recipe that's going in a book that will be debuted at a festival next week.  I wanted to share Kathleen's website, but it isn't there anymore.  So here's the article from the magazine with my pictures added.
Just need to make up a label to be sure and list all ingredients and date.
Historic Herbal: Troches
From The Essential Herbal Magazine, Sept/Oct ‘10
by Kathleen Setzer
 Their Purpose
Known as Troches, or in Latin as Placentula 'little cakes' after their finished shape, these handy herbal lozenges have an impressively long history. Troches were created to allow powdered herbs to be carried lightly, kept fresh longer and to slowly dissolve within the mouth when taken. The intent of dissolving made troches particularly useful for ailments related to the respiratory system and irritations of the mouth. Troches were also used in remedies that called for a slow release of the herbs that made up the lozenge.
A Brief History
Some of the earliest surviving documentation of troches come from ancient Rome, particularly from the work of prolific physician and philosopher, Claudius Galen. In these works, Galen shares much of his own knowledge as well as preserving the knowledge from students of Hippocrates from the 4th century B.C.E. to Greek physicians of the 1st century C.E. Praised in a variety of medical texts from the days of Galen in the 2nd century until the modern era where they are still used by compounding pharmacists, the troche has long proven it's worth.
Method of Preparation
The preparation of troches has not changed much over the years, though modern presses and cutters can be used if you don't wish to flatten the paste by hand. Below is an explanation of how to prepare troches.
Ingredients all ready to turn into powder.
- First, powder herbs for your troches
  (Create as fine a powder as you possibly can. Try using a coffee grinder to speed up the process.)
- Sieve the powdered herbs to remove larger pieces
- Begin a mucilage the night before you intend to make your troches

Tragacanth mixed with water and rose geranium hydrosol.
 (See directions for making a mucilage below)

- Add the powdered herbs to your mucilage to form a thick paste
A touch of honey, a sprinkle of stevia, and some of the mucilage turn this into dough.

- Roll a bit of the paste into a small ball between your palms
- Flatten each ball with your fingertips
- Leave the flattened disks out on a surface where they can evenly dry undisturbed for at least two days 
We'll flip these tonight, and then again tomorrow morning.  They'll be dry in a day or two.

- Take precautions to avoid mold by making sure your troches have even exposure to air
- Store the finished troches in a pot for later use
Making a Mucilage
Historically, mucilage was made with a number of different ingredients that basically boil down to two things: a liquid and a thickening agent. The liquids used included things such as: rose water, distilled water, orange flower water, wine, juice of plantain, juice of liquorice, syrup of violets or even purslane water depending on the intent of the recipe. The thickeners used included gum arabic, gum tragacanth, mucilage of quince seeds and agarick.
The easiest mucilage for experimenting will be 1/4c of distilled water and 1/8 tsp of gum tragacanth. With this mucilage you can easily add in a few tablespoons of dried, powdered herbs to practice making troches. Find gum tragacanth HERE
Choosing Your Herbs
As you choose the herbs to create troches, keep in mind what you intend to use them for and keep the mixture simple. Try to choose herbs that will taste good together, and remember that you may want to add sugar or honey to sweeten your troches once you get an idea of how the final product will taste. Chose a modern combination of herbs from below as a starting point. Based on your knowledge of herbs and safety, you can easily be creative from there.
- Lemon Balm, for soothing abrasions in the mouth and lightening one's mood.
- Liquorice and Horehound, to reduce rough coughing during a cold.
- Linden and Lavender, to ease a cantankerous disposition and soothe the nerves.
A Historic Redaction
A combination adapted from a recipe attributed to Servillius Damocrates, this type of troche was traditionally regarded as warming to the heart.
1 part Saffron
1 part Myrrh
2 parts Roses
A mucilage of gum (arabic or tragacanth) and wine
- Following the directions under the "method of preparation"section, create your troches.

Schulz, V., Hänsel, R., Blumenthal, M.& Tyler, V.E. . (2007). Rational phytotherapy: a reference guide for physicians and pharmacists. McGraw-Hill.
 Green, J. (2000) The herbal medicine-maker's handbook: a home manual. Crossing Press.
 Prioreschi, P. (1998) Roman medicine (a history of medicine). Horatius Press
 Thacher, J., Currie, J. (1831) The american dispensatory, containing the natural, chemical, pharmaceutical and medical history of the different substances employed in medicine. Carey & Lea.

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