A Few Favorite Herbal Remedies

Cold and flu season. It has been here for a bit and continues well into the Spring here in the PNW so I thought I'd share a few preparations I made back in October to get us through to warmer months.

I love herbalism. I also am one of the more skeptical people that I know when it comes to most anything. For this reason, I often become discouraged by the nature of herbal medicine. Most people, including myself, want herbs to work like pharmaceuticals. Herbalism, however, is about supporting your health year round and for a lifetime and intervening at appropriate moments with stronger preparations to support the body taking care of itself. Herbalism focuses on the roots of our health concerns and is tailored to the individual. Herbs are there to help your body function to the best of its ability.

That said, it's great when you find a preparation that works instantly...or mostly. For me, Oxymels are my favorite confidence booster in the effectiveness of herbalism. They work for us in a way that is immediate and relieving. I am pleased to share with you two of my favorite recipes.

A note on Oxymels in general...they are an herbal preparation combining the stimulating properties of vinegar with the soothing qualities of honey. Herbs are soaked for 2-6weeks and then strained off. These two recipes are from Rosalee de la Foret. She is one of the herbalists that I regularly learn from and follow. A great way to connect with her teachings and others equally as wonderful is through Herb Mentor, (I in no way benefit from mentioning them in this post. In fact, I pay them to belong to the herbal community and do so with joy).

Elderberry Oxymel

Elderberry syrup is very common and popular in the herbalism world. I like it, but have had varied success with it. I also can't stand how sweet it is. My preparation includes delicious herbal additions that make it bearable, but still, this Oxymel knocks the syrup out of the park. It also acts as an expectorant with the herbs included in this recipe, aiding in the expulsion of congested coughs.

• Dried elderberries

• 2 tablespoons dried ginger

• 2 tablespoons elecampane root

• Honey

• Apple cider vinegar

Fill a quart jar 1/3 to 1/2 full with elderberries. Add the ginger and elecampane to the jar. Add an equal amount of honey and apple cider vinegar. Stir well. Vinegar can corrode a metal lid, so you’ll need to cover the jar with a plastic lid, or place a barrier like plastic wrap or wax paper between the metal lid and the liquid. The next day stir it again and add more vinegar if necessary. (The dried elderberries will swell a bit.) Let this sit for 2 to 6 weeks, stirring occasionally. When done, strain off well using a cheesecloth.

Store in the fridge and use within 6 months or so.

To use: Take this liberally for wet, congested coughs that produce a lot of mucus. 

Written by Rosalee de la Forêt. Herbal Cold Care © LearningHerbs.com, LLC

Cough Be Gone Oxymel

Coughs are terrible for so many reasons, but are alerting us to the needs of our body in sickness depending on the type of cough we have. This Oxymel is for coughs involving mucous and congestion. It's especially wonderful for the coughs that keep you awake at night.

• 1/8 cup dried hyssop

• 1/8 cup dried sage

• 1/8 cup dried thyme

• Good quality honey

• Apple cider vinegar

Fill a pint jar half-full with the dried herbs. Next fill the jar about 1/3 of the way full with honey. (For a sweeter and thicker preparation, fill the jar half full with honey.) Then fill the jar the rest of the way with the vinegar. Vinegar can corrode a metal lid, so you’ll need to cover the jar with a plastic lid, or place a barrier like plastic wrap or wax paper between the metal lid and the liquid. Place a label on it and let it sit for 2 to 4 weeks. Strain it well. Label and bottle!

Oxymels will keep for a long time. You can keep this in the fridge for longer preservation (I never do, though, and it lasts for the entire winter).

To use: Oxymels can be taken in teaspoon to tablespoon amounts. If dealing with an acute issue, it is generally better to take smaller amounts more frequently rather than larger doses only a few times a day. If I had a congested cough, I would take this oxymel 1 to 2 teaspoons at a time at least every hour.

I made mine several months ago but you still have plenty of time. Hopefully those of you who try these enjoy them as much as I do! 

*Thanks to Learning Herbs and Herb Mentor for having an open source policy with their recipes. I love that in a world of fighting for ownership, these herbalists believe in the passing on of folk knowledge for the benefit of all. Cheers!