honey in herbal preparations...
also long been an invaluable vehicle for delivering
herbs, in many varying forms. I often rely on it in
making syrups, honey pastes & lozenges....
terms, a syrup is most often a strong infusion or
decoction of one or several herbs or, in the case of
berries, their juice, mixed with honey into a sweet,
thick liquid. The honey not only contributes to the
syrup’s flavor and consistency, but also offers its own
virtues, being nutritious, immune stimulating,
antiseptic and moistening to lung tissues.
a few of my favorite syrup recipes:
mashing and simmering ripe Elderberries over very low
heat until they’re a slushy-mushy mess. You might add a
bit of water so as not to initially burn them; just
enough to coat the bottom of your pot. Strain the
berries through a sieve or some such device to separate
the juice from the solids, then measure how much juice
you have, and add that much honey to the juice (more or
less equal parts) back into a clean pot. Add a pinch of
cinnamon, clove or ginger and a dash or two of lemon or
lime juice. Heat long enough to mix the honey and
extract the spices, then strain out the mix again and
the spices used in this syrup be omitted, or can vary
according to availability or imagination. I’ve replaced
all the spices once with local substitutes, such as
spicebush berries (taste kinda like allspice), false
solomon’s seal berries (anisey flavored), sweet flag
root in place of the ginger, and staghorn sumach
“berry-aide” (swish the ripe, fuzzy red berry clusters
in water for a acidic lemon juice substitute).
Elderberries have been shown to inhibit the mechanism
that viruses use to break into our cells and reproduce;
thereby slowing their spread in our bodies. At the same
time, elderberries stimulate immune function. And are
potent antioxidants. And they taste really good. Yum.
More on elder
recipe can be made with blackberries instead of
elderberries, and this, added to a strong tea made by
simmering cinnamon in water will do wonders to help with
an easy licorice cough syrup...
this recipe from my friend
of some dried licorice root and add about a 1/2 cup to 2
cups of water. and simmer for a half hour. Strain and
measure; add more water or boil it a bit longer so as to
get about 1 cup of strained tea. To this, add a 1/2 cup
honey, and stir till blended. Take this by the spoonful,
make this, I use a mixture of mostly licorice root and
some marshmallow root to make a half cup. After
straining the tea and reducing to a bit more than 1 cup,
I add 2 tablespoons of elderflowers and maybe a
tablespoon or two of bruised anise seeds. Steep,
covered for 15ish minutes and then stain and add honey.
syrup, licorice, as well as the honey, helps to moisten
the lungs, and it can be very useful for intractably dry
coughs. Marshmallow complements this action and the
addition of elderflower helps to support the body’s
innate immune response to illness. And the extra spices
make it taste more complete.
note that you'll find licorice root sometimes listed as
causing or aggravating high blood pressure, but all
those studies were done with concentrated licorice -
hard to replicate with home preparations.
using honey for powders and pills...
also be used to deliver dry herbs. Here, it excels,
since the normal vehicle for administering powdered
herbs, capsules, is woefully susceptible to
degradation. But, if you mix powdered herbs into honey,
the honey not only acts as a vehicle to administer them,
but also acts as a preservative. It is the best way to
keep high quality powdered herbs high quality.
feel that for people who don’t want to consume tinctures
made with alcohol, or to take the time to make teas,
powdered herbs administered in honey provides the best
form for using herbs; much better than most
alcohol free extracts/glycerites.
assortment of herbs can be mixed into honey, but here’s
a particularly good one:
winter cherry honey...
¼ cup powdered ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera,
also called winter cherry), a teaspoon or two each of
powdered cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger or other spices into ½
cup honey (the proportions are really all eyeballed).
Stir till you have everything evenly distributed. This
can be taken in the evenings, mixed into a bit of warm
milk or something along those lines an hourish before
bed to address exhaustion from doing too much for too
long. Ashwagandha is one of my favorite herbs for
building the body’s vital energy back up after its been
burned out. My friend Kiva’s
write up on it
the best I've seen.
slippery elm lozenges...
also use less honey and make lozenges. I’d posit that
having slippery elm lozenges around is something
everyone would benefit from…
bit more than a 1/2 cup of water to a boil, add a
teaspoon of licorice, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain
the licorice root out, pour into a 1/2 cup measuring
cup, add honey (1-2 Tbsp, depending on how sweet - and
initially sticky - you
want them), and add enough of your licorice tea to fill
the half cup to the brim. Let the tea cool to lukewarm (so it's safe to
work with). Now
put a 1/2 cup of slippery elm powder in a bowl, make a depression
in it and add the sweetened tea (like gravy on mashed
potatoes). Work it into a dough till it's pliable and
evenly moist. You can add a bit more water or tea if
roll the dough up into little balls easiest, or roll them out
flat and use an appropriately sized bottle cap to cut
out flat circular “pills”. This
is easiest accomplished if you dust the slippery elm
dough with some more powder, to mellow out the
out the balls/pills and leave in a warm dry place till
they're thoroughly dried. If desired, you can roll
them around in powdered slippery elm or licorice to
"dust" the outside of them. Store in glass, or
You can see a great
visual "step by step" of this process
elm is a rich source of soothing mucilage; a
carbohydrate that gets “gooey” when moistened and offers
a soothing, moistening and protective action on
irritated mucous membranes, particularly in the
digestive tract. Also quite soothing to sore throats.
Let them dissolve slowly for maximum benefit.
using heated honey...
(I know… Egad! Sacrilege!)
Paul Bergner uses heated honey to extract and
preserve herbal powders; the honey is heated till
water-thin in a double boiler, then the powdered herb
added and stirred. While
the heat will indeed destroy the enzymes in the honey,
it also provides optimal extraction of the herbs by
exploding the cell walls and making all the virtues of
the herbs highly bioavailable. I
know that many would find the degradation of the enzymes
to be offensive, but I'm of the opinion that there are
many, not one, way to use any given substance.
When cooled, the herb-honey can be rolled up into
balls or pills and coated in a bit of licorice powder so
they’re not sticky or tacky; the honey will act as a
preservative, but they may be frozen to keep them more
solid if they’re a bit soft at room temperature.
A VERY active form with ALL the constituents is recently
powdered herb decocted in hot honey. The hot honey is
the consistency of water. You get as much powder into it
as you can, sort of like adding flour to water to make
bread dough. When the honey cools, it thickens and you
get a paste. You can roll this into honey pills, roll
them in licorice powder etc . . . Or just eat the paste
with a spoon or a popsicle stick. This is an amazingly
active herbal form, a major form used in contemporary
Pakistani Unani Tibb. I believe the honey probably
explodes many of the cells, or sucks the plasm out of
them, and you have constituents freely dispersed and
immediately available in the honey. Even if this is not
so, the honey preserves the properties of the powder.
Try echinacea root plus osha root rolled in licorice if
you want your head blown off. Also excellent for
powdered Chinese tonics -- say, American ginseng,
licorice, peony, ho shou wu, and ginger. Also a
great form for taking garlic. Mix recently powdered
garlic with a half part of coriander and prepare with
honey as above.
Hot Chocolate for the... well, everything...
truth be told, this is one of my absolute favorite means
of imbibing honey… really, who could ask for anything
better than medicinal hot cocoa?
longer remember that Cocoa is a powerful, sacred,
medicinal and darned tasty plant. The chocolate of mass
appeal in our country is but a shadow of true Cocoa,
being mostly refined sugar, and even the gourmet hot
cocoas sold at exorbitant prices abound in artificial
flavors and ingredients. Fortunately, anyone can
easily, and within minutes, whip up a cup or pot of
steaming Cocoa that not only tastes better than
virtually anything they could buy, it's good for them to
This simple recipe provides a tasty drink with immune
stimulating and even anti-viral/antibiotic properties,
offers a plethora of vitamins, minerals and nutrients,
and is very rich in anti-inflammatory polyphenols...
Ingredients (for one cup):
spoonful unsweetened cocoa powder
(remember, it takes good cocoa powder to make good
hot water to fill a mug
Making a pot?
unsweetened cocoa powder
scoop of cocoa powder in a mug, add more or less an
equal amount of honey (you can adjust the cocoa-to-honey
ratio to make the drink sweeter, or more bitter, if you
prefer). Add hot water and drink up.
(of course) provides the flavor (and the
chocolate-euphoria), the Honey sweetens it up and
possesses antibacterial, antibiotic, antiviral,
antiinflamatory, anticarcinogenic, anti... well, the
list goes on and on.
endless. You can add crushed berries, and an endless
array of spices for flavor.
One of my
favorite ways to make this for medicinal use is to
initially steep marshmallow root (a pinch or two per
cup) in the hot water before adding the other
ingredients. This will extract the mucilage from the
marshmallow root and add a nice flavor and thickness to
the cocoa, as well as make it good for dry coughs and
sore throats. I’ll also add a squirt of propolis
tincture and a spoonful of elderberry syrup for each cup
of tea, which further enhance both the flavor and the
immune supportive action of this insanely good cocoa.
also simmer cinnamon in the water before adding the
cocoa and honey, which will make it helpful for loose
stools and flues with a lot of digestive distress.
Drink it hot.
can also make an insanely good "hot fudge" by heating
honey over very low heat in a saucepan, mashing up some
fresh Blackberries (or whatever-berries) in it, and
adding Cocoa power to taste and desired consistency.
a few thoughts about propolis…
is a hard, waxy substance made by bees to line their
hives. Whereas bees use flower nectar to make honey, propolis is made from tree saps and resins. It is
highly antimicrobial (one of the reasons it is used to
line the hive it to prevent infection of the hive), it stimulates immune activity, and
encourages rapid healing. Propolis is
exceptionally nutritious; Buhner states "Propolis has
more bioflavinoids than oranges... and contains all the
known vitamins except vitamin K and all the minerals
needed by the body except sulphur."
is entirely insoluable in water, but will dissolve
readily in strong alcohol. Propolis tincture is such a
wonderful thing to have around. Here in Michigan, you
can get 70ish percent Everclear at some liquor stores;
that would be best, of you can’t get someone to bring
you 95% Everclear from out of state. If your propolis
is in chunks, to can break it into smaller pieces by
freezing it in a plastic bag, then taking it out and
immediately banging it with something. Once you have it
close to a gravel consistency, put 1 part propolis in a
mason jar with 5 parts Everclear (or other high proof
alcohol). Cap, and steep this for 2 to 4 weeks, shaking
every now and again. Strain this (as best you can)
through a wire strainer, and fill a dropper bottle for
ease of use. You can clean up your strainer easily with
rubbing alcohol; anything else will likely be difficult
use the propolis tincture in cocoa, as mentioned above,
or diluted in a bit of water and used as a gargle to
soothe enflamed gums or a sore throat, and can help
restore the voice. Like honey, it also
exerts a potent antimicrobial action against H. pylori,
and is also among the better remedies for addressing
cold and canker sores. The tincture applied
topically has also been used on herpes sores outside the
tincture also makes an excellent “liquid bandage”.
Simply apply a few drops topically around a wound, rub
it gently around to cover, and blow on it till the
alcohol evaporates off. You can repeat a few times to
get a thicker layer. This “bandage” protects from
infection, keeps the wound clean and facilitates
healing. Also, because it’s not soluble at all in
water, it won’t come of readily of you get wet, though,
eventually, you will sweat it off. Do be aware that it
will sting, being in an alcohol base. It excels for
addressing cuts and scrapes on knuckles and elbows, and
other places bandages just don’t seem made for. I’ve
used it once on a large second degree scald, and
although it hurt like h*** going on, it did wonders to
heal the burn quickly and without scarring.
just some of the seemingly endless uses of just a couple
of the herbalist bees many creations. I hope that
you’ll be able to make use of some of these recipes and
enrich your well bee-ing…