Medicinal Syrups and Elixers

Medicinal Syrups and Elixers

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A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down

This story originally ran in the Fall 2014 (V8I3) edition of Yukon, North of Ordinary.


It’s true. A spoonful of sugar (preferably honey or birch syrup) makes the medicine go down … in a most delightful way! It seems Mary Poppins was singing about herbal syrups and elixirs.

DSC_0523-imp.jpg  Boreal berries, fruits, and herbs make nourishing and medicinal syrups and elixirs that are great to have on hand for the long winter ahead.

  Syrups are a way to concoct a sweet-tasting herbal preparation that is easy to make, easy to store, and will usually last one year if refrigerated.For a nourishing syrup, try the High-Iron Syrup recipe. For a cough, try the Cough and Cold Medicinal Syrup.

  Elixirs are alcohol or vinegar based and sweetened. Brandy is generally the alcohol of choice for elixirs, but if you can’t ingest alcohol,apple cider vinegar can be used instead. Elixirs are basically sweetened tinctures, not heated, and often used with bitter herbs to improve the palatability of the remedy or with aromatic herbs to capture the fragrance.

  Syrups and elixirs are prepared to extract and preserve a plant’s medicinal properties.These remedies can be taken therapeutically by the teaspoonful or added to hot water,juice, or tea. Preparing them beforehand saves time because who wants to be making syrup when a cold is coming on?

  In the northern boreal forest, we have many nourishing and medicinal plants to choose from. Here are the basics on how to make and use a few for common health needs. As you experiment with these recipes, you’ll see how easy they are. Hopefully you’ll branch off and investigate other plants that can be substituted and used.

  When creating these recipes, I employed the simplers’ measurement method. The term simplers was in use long before the words herbalist, wise woman, or healer. It referred to people who lived off the land, using plants for health and healing. They were observant and creative, and used their intuition for making medicinal preparations.

  I use the simplers’ method when sharing recipes because it’s an adaptable and easy system for making herbal remedies. It is DSC_0626-imp.jpgbased on ratios, and the units of measurement are referred to as “parts.” For example, three parts stinging nettle, two parts strawberry leaf, one part red clover is a very common 3:2:1 blending ratio. This type of measurement allows formulation in any volume as long as that ratio is consistently used throughout the recipe.

Basic Syrup Recipe

1 part fresh or dried herbs or berries

4 parts water

1 part honey

Brandy

1) Add botanicals and water to a stainless steel or glass cooking pot. Simmer over low heat, concentrating the liquid down to half while pulping the fruits and herbs with a potato masher to draw out the juices. Remove from heat and let cool.

2) Strain botanicals through a sieve lined with cheesecloth into a measuring cup to determine the amount of liquid infusion.(Do not allow any plant matter to remain in the liquid, otherwise it may ferment and spoil your preparation.)

3) Pour the liquid back into the pot. Simmer over low heat for one minute or so. Add honey. Heat only enough to allow the liquid and honey to blend well.

4) Remove from heat, cool, and add brandy. Pour into a sterilized bottle(it's best to have a large storage bottle or jar) and then decant the syrup into smaller bottles for frequent use. This will preserve the syrup longer. Label and date your syrup, then refrigerate.

NOTE: For 1 cup (250 ml) of botanical infusion, add 1 cup (250 ml) of honey and 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of brandy.

Rosehip Syrup

Rosehip syrup can be used alone or blended with tinctures or other herbal syrups as a base for tonics. It also works well as a topping for desserts and pancakes or as a concentrate for making iced or hot herbal teas.

1 part rosehips

6 parts water

Honey

Brandy

Follow the Basic Syrup Recipe instructions.

NOTE: Rosehips and some berries absorb a greater volume of water than leaves. By adding a couple more parts of water during the cooking process, you’ll end up with more volume.

High-Iron Syrup

High in iron and other minerals, this tonic is easily absorbed and tastes great. The formula can also be made into a tea or vinegar infusion. Take 1 teaspoon (5 ml) 2 times a day.

1 part yellow dock root

1 part rosehips

1 part wild blueberries

1 part horsetail

2 parts stinging-nettle leaves

2 parts strawberry leaves

24 parts water

Honey or birch syrup

Brandy

Follow the Basic Syrup Recipe instructions.

Cough and Cold Medicinal Syrup

This syrup is antispasmodic, antimicrobial,and astringent and acts as an expectorant.It is good for coughs, colds, and respiratory congestion. Take 1 teaspoon (5 ml) as needed for a cough, cold, or sore throat.

2 parts wild cranberries

1 part yarrow

1 part cramp bark (highbush cranberry inner bark)

1 part horsetail

1 part spruce tips

1 part plantain

2 parts coltsfoot

18 parts water

Honey or birch syrup

Brandy

Follow the Basic Syrup Recipe instructions.

• It’s good practice to use sterilized, distilled, or spring water when making your herbal remedies. That said, when I’m making medicines for home use, I use the water from my tap. It comes from my well, so I know it’s a healthful source of clean water. Tap water can be sterilized by bringing it to a rolling boil for five minutes to kill bacteria and fungus.

• Add a tablespoon of your medicinal syrup to a glass of cold water, throw in an ice cube, add a splash of lemon or lime juice, and voilà—iced tea! Or add a tablespoon of syrup to a glass of sparkling water to make your own carbonated herbal drink.

Wild Rose Aromatic Elixir

This elixir is a taste sensation and can be calming when used during stressful life situations. A teaspoon will help with stuck emotions and act as a mild heart tonic.

1 part rosehips

2 parts rose petals

2 parts honey or birch syrup

2 parts brandy

1) Fill a jar with fresh or dried whole rosehips and rose petals. Add the honey and brandy, making sure it is covering the plant matter.

2) Cover the top of the jar with a plastic lid or other non-reactive material before screwing on a regular canning lid. Label and infuse for up to four weeks, shaking daily. When the elixir is ready, strain the plant matter through a muslin cloth, then bottle and label.

After Dinner Elixir

One teaspoon of this elixir after each meal will help fully digest your food. Helps with gas and indigestion.

1/2 part wild mint

1/2 part pineapple weed

1 part yarrow

1 part dandelion root

1 part cranberries

4 parts brandy

4 parts honey or birch syrup

1) Fill a jar with fresh or dried botanicals.Add the sweetener and brandy, making sure it is covering the plant matter.

2) Cover the top of the jar with a plastic lid or other non-reactive material before screwing on a regular canning lid. Label and infuse for up to four weeks, shaking daily. When the elixir is ready, strain the plant matter through a muslin cloth, then bottle and label. Y


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  • commented 2017-11-11 06:30:38 -0800
    rose is a miracle herb. looking forward to using these recipes.