I can feel the chill in the air in the mornings – and I’m seeing colors changing on the trees – It’s Fall! I know that also means flu, colds, and various bugs flying around in the air as well. I’ve put together some recipes that can help you keep your Winter Wellness this season!
There are a great many herbal teas in grocery stores but remember, to get a therapeutic dose using tea bags, you will need to use at 3-4 per serving. For loose leaf teas, you will need 2 heaping tablespoons per serving. The recipes I’m including are geared for winter but sometimes can be used in spring or summer in iced form. The best place for quality herbs is Mountain Rose Herbs. I have used them for years and always loved them.
A word on Parts, keep your parts the same, for instance, 1 part equals 1 tablespoon or 1/4 cup. This way, your ratio will be correct for the recipes.
We’ll start with a good digestive tea – remember, good health starts in the gut! (From Healing Herbal Teas)
3 parts dandelion root
1 part fennel
1 part ginger
1 part peppermint
1 part spearmint
1/2 part chamomile – use in the evening to calm the nervous system
pinch of marshmallow root to soothe inflamed tissues in the throat, stomach, and intestines – especially useful for acid reflux.
Hot: Pour 1.5 cups of just-boiled water over 2 tablespoons tea. Steep – covered – for 15 minutes.
Cold: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1-2w tablespoons of tea in a jar with a lid. Shake well to saturate all the dry ingredients, place in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least two hours.
Kathy’s Vitamin C Tea:
I love this tea – my own creation! It’s wonderfully fruity and chock full of Vitamin C. Make a container full of the dried ingredients so that you can whip it together in an instant.
1 part rose hips
1 part Elderberry Flowers
1/2 part lemon peel
1/2 part orange peel
1 part hibiscus
1/2 part elderberries
Hot: Fill with 1.5 cups of just-boiled water and let steep – covered – for at least 10 minutes. Sweeten with honey. Enjoy several times per day.
Cold: Combine 2 cups of cold water into a jar with a lid and steep for at least 2 hours, then strain, sweeten if desired, and enjoy.
Dried Ginger Tea (Kathy’s Recipe)
Dried ginger is more warming than fresh ginger and ideal for helping you warm up after getting a chill, or sweating out a fever. But you can use whatever you have available.
About 2 teaspoons Dried, sifted, organic Ginger
10 ounces of water
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
dash of honey (optional)
Squirt of lemon juice (optional)
Hot: Place the ginger in a small saucepan with the water and simmer for at least seven minutes. Remove from heat and add the other ingredients if desired.
Herbal Inspired Hot Toddy (Kathy’s Recipe)
I love a hot toddy when I’m sick – and this one is a change from the traditional in using herbal ingredients:
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cranberry or cherry juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 slice fresh ginger (or dried if fresh is not available)
2 teaspoons dried hibiscus
1/2-1 ounce whisky or brandy
slice of orange or lemon (optional)
Simmer water, juice, cinnamon, clove, hibiscus, ginger for about 10 minutes, then strain into a cup. Add honey to taste, whisky or brandy, and a slice of orange or lemon if desired. Drink while warm – preferably in bed because this toddy puts you right to sleep!
Relaxation (AKA Achy Body) Tea
NOTE: This tea is not for pregnant women – no exceptions! Also not for people with blood clotting disorders, or who are on Coumadin, or have kidney or liver disease. Talk to your doctor if you’re unsure you can take this tea
1 teaspoon dried yarrow
1 teaspoon dried feverfew
2 teaspoons dried lavender
Steep with just boiled water for at least 10 minutes. Strain, sweeten with honey. Particularly good before bed.
Enjoy, and if you need any herbal advice going through winter – please let me know.
Recently I was able to visit a country store with an apothecary wall. Hundreds of antique bottles, boxes, and tins lined the shelves and I couldn’t resist taking a picture.
Being an herbalist, this image really spoke to me. These remedies are all from people who came before me and whose work – for good or ill – shaped how medicine is today. I see many ‘miracle drugs’ and must take essential oils, or vitamins for whatever ails a person. It is a reminder that the snake-oil sellers of yesteryear are still out there today.
Do your due diligence. Ask questions. If the seller isn’t responding to your queries, they are probably not the ones you should be buying from.
For me, certain foods will trigger my Meniere’s disease vertigo episodes, so I have to be very cautious. For instance, many CBD oils might be hemp oil, but the carrier oil they use might be walnut or almond which will make me crash into walls with vertigo. And that wonderful relaxation blend you got only to realize it had coconut milk in it AFTER it made you get dizzy. Or you find the perfect salve for sore muscles, only to find that one of the ingredients not listed is causing a rash. And so on… If you’re not sure it’s for you, question it before you buy it to avoid wasting money.
Enjoy the photo of remedies and tobacco (what a combination!), if you’re interested, it can be bought at my photo store, www.hilltop.photos.
Feverfew (tanaceum parthenium)
Although there has been extensive research about the benefits of feverfew for migraines, I thought I’d share my own – real world – observations.
Feverfew is a gorgeous little shrub that is closely related to chamomile and tansy. It can grow to about 3 feet in height and readily reseeds. It is a perennial and features a white daisy-like flower with what seems (to me) a popped-out sort of rounded button center.
Nicolas Culpeper once touted feverfew as a women’s herb, saying that it is a great strengthener of the womb., Culpeper wrote The English Physitian – also known as Culpeper’s Complete Herbal – in 1652, and much more is known about this herb now.
Feverfew is mainly known for its headache reducing and migraine prevention properties. Taken daily it can lessen the frequency of migraines, as well as taken at the first sign of the migraine can help to stop it. For tension headaches I have found a tea/infusion made of feverfew with chamomile to be very useful. Tincture:10-15 drops daily for long-term prevention; Tincture: 5-10 drops with chamomile tincture (20 drops) is my go-to for headaches and for when a migraine hits. For an infusion: 1 part dried chamomile, ½ part dried feverfew, infuse (steep) with freshly boiled water, and cover the mug, for 10-15 minutes. Sweeten with honey, or sugar or stevia as desired. Drink up to three times daily for tension headaches.
An infusion of feverfew with willow bark may help reduce fevers and you can use feverfew in conjunction with St. Johns wort and comfrey in an infusion to help ease inflamed joints.
Creating a tincture using the folk method is extremely easy but I think the following article is highly beneficial. This is from The Herbal Academy: (https://theherbalacademy.com/how-to-make-a-tincture/)
Cautions: Avoid feverfew if you are taking blood thinners, or if you are pregnant. Use caution when eating fresh leaves as they have been known to cause mouth sores.
How to Make a Tincture
1. Remove the fresh or dried herbs off of the stalks. If using freshly dug roots, wash and scrub them of dirt.
2. Chop fresh herbs and grind dried herbs to increase the surface area for the maceration. Place herbs into a clean, dry jar with a wide mouth.
3. Pour high proof alcohol (vodka or brandy) over the herbs until the alcohol level is an inch above the top of the herbs. Dry herbs may absorb the liquid, so check and add alcohol as needed.
4. Cover tightly with a lid and place the jar in a dark cupboard and allow to soak or macerate for 4-6 weeks.
5. During this time period, give the jar a shake every 2-3 days. Keep an eye on the alcohol level to ensure all your herbs are still covered.
6. Once macerating is complete, layer cheesecloth a few times over top of a clean bowl and secure with rubber band if possible.
7. Strain the mixture through the cheesecloth and with clean hands, gather the cloth up and squeeze strongly so every bit of possible liquid is drained from the herbs.
8. Allow material to settle overnight and strain again, or decant, through a smaller filter such as filter paper or a thin wire screen.
9. Use a funnel to transfer into labeled, amber bottles and store out of the light.
An alcohol based tincture will last many years. Using a standard sized dropper bottle, adult dosages are typically 30 to 60 drops in a little water, taken three times a day. However, drop size can be variable depending on the viscosity of the preparation and the dropper size, so if you prefer more precision in your dosage you can consult a reputable publication like Medical Herbalism by David Hoffman.
Learning how to make a tincture is just one of the first things beginners learn in herbalism. If you are interested in studying herbalism, start your journey in the Online Introductory Herbal Course or the Online Intermediate Herbal Course. Learn more about herbs and how to use them as medicine and as food!
Cech, Richo. (2000) Making Plant Medicine. Williams, OR: Horizon Herbs
Gladstar, Rosemary. (2012) Medicinal Herbs: A Beginners Guide. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.
Herbal Academy of New England. (2013) Herbal First Aid, Herbal Academy of New England’s Medicine Making Handbook