When I got off work on Thursday afternoon, I kicked back on the sofa with a cup of tea and the most recent issue of The Essential Herbal Magazine. My intention was to relax for a short while, unwind from a busy day in the shop, and then have dinner waiting for my husband when he came in after dark from deer hunting. That’s not what happened. Instead, I read an article written by my friend, Tina Sams, the editor of the magazine, entitled “Grocery Store Preparedness”. The article was about how to stock your cupboards to be somewhat prepared for an unexpected cold or bout of the flu. It also included some instructions for a few herbal concoctions meant for prevention and easing symptoms. At this point I went off on a wild hare. Pictured above is my kitchen counter within 10 minutes of reading the article, just before it exploded.
My herbal remedies arsenal has dwindled dangerously low, and I’ve procrastinated restocking for weeks. Tina’s article was just the motivation I needed, and dinner ended up being reheated leftovers, instead of the meatloaf I had originally planned.
First on my agenda was getting a few tinctures started. From left to right is Eleuthero root, Astragalus root, and Holy Basil (also known as Tulsi). Making tinctures is quick and easy. I just fill a jar about 1/3 full of dried herb, and cover with vodka. I let it sit about 6 weeks before using. At that point it can be strained and bottled. I store mine in the jars and strain off what I need into 2 ounce dropper bottles as I need it.
Eleuthero is an immune system booster, effective against colds and flu. Astragalus, one of my favorite preventives, is effective against viral infections, helps boost the production of white blood cells, and promotes interferon production in the body. Interferon is a chemical that disrupts the life cycle of a virus. Holy Basil is most commonly used for stress and anxiety, but it’s also a powerful adaptogen, rich in phytochemicals, which exhibits both antiviral and antibiotic effects. These three have a significant presence in my household, along with elderberry, which numerous studies have shown to be effective against multiple strains of influenza.
Next, I mixed up my favorite blend of herbal tea which I like to use when I feel a cold coming on, and also during a cold. I need to give it a name. I blend the following in a bowl and store it in and old bail lid canning jar.
2 parts Holy Basil
2 parts Dried Elderberries
1 part Dried Ginger
1 part Lemon Verbena
1 part Lemongrass
1 part Hibiscus
I like this blend because it meets the criteria for my personal preferences. It tastes good – some zip is provided by the lemon verbena, lemongrass, and hibiscus (which also gives the tea a rich rosy color). The elderberry and Holy Basil help combat the virus, and the ginger provides a warming effect that can help break a sweat and fight off chills. Elderberry also helps promote sweating.
Next, I made a batch of garlic infused honey, recommended in Tina’s article. I’m not even going to go into the myriad benefits of garlic. You can Google it. When I eat garlic I seem to stink worse than most people. When I eat it raw, I fart – a lot. You want to stay far, far away from me when I’ve been eating raw garlic.
I also made the Ginger Elixir and the Fire Cider included in Tina’s article. A friend of Tina’s and mine calls the Ginger Elixir “ginger lemon honey throat yum yum stuff”. That about sums it up. Since these are in the current issue of the magazine, I’m not going to give them here. I bet if you visit The Essential Herbals Facebook page and ask about it, Tina might share … or you could just subscribe to the magazine, and she’ll start you off with the current issue.