Illness is everywhere. It seems that the wrong flu vaccine was given this year so naturally everyone is getting the flu. Woops! People might be able to fend off the flu better if their immune systems weren't already bogged down with all the extra vaccines and medications they use to "stay healthy" but I digress. My partner and I eat a relatively healthy and balanced diet. We incorporate as much fresh vegetables as we allow time for and many of our meals at home our made from scratch. Whole grains are plentiful and processed flours and pre-made products are minimal. However, event with this "healthy" diet we will still take every opportunity to keep us well defended from the bacterial and viral invaders that lurk on every door handle, counter top and grocery cart. I was thankful that my next level of herbal basics on HerbMentor was syrup, more importantly, elderberry syrup. Fancy that. Elderberry is well known for its antioxidant and antiviral properties and the flower as a diuretic. I was happy to oblige the lesson and make my elderberry syrup which has been gracing our table and morning breakfast since it was made. Here it is:
Step one was putting the elderberries (Sambucus nigra), cloves, cinnamon, and ginger on the stove with 2 cups water. The herbs were brought to a low boil then covered and left to simmer for about 20 minutes. The herbs were then strained from the mixture. I allowed the mixture to cool a little before adding the honey since I didn't want to lose the benefits of having a raw honey but tried to keep it warm enough that they blended smoothly. It worked and tastes lovely. I generally don't use honey since many vegans are quite uncomfortable with its use. I feel that if it can be found locally from someone who cares properly for their bees I will use the honey as an extremely valuable tool in the medicine cabinet. I'm not sure I know anything that cures a cold better than some hot fire cider and honey. This was short and sweet but this is still a new practice. Let's hope I get more motivated in the future.
Last August I obtained my M.S. in Therapeutic Herbalism from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. I love it! I don't feel like I've learned what I need to learn yet. I still have this lurking feeling that I am missing an important piece of the puzzle. When I stepped back to take a look at all that I have learned over the years I realized it wasn't one large piece that I was missing, but many small pieces located sporadically throughout the puzzle. So here I am trying to find all those little pieces. I'm going to start from square one and see if I can pick up some extra tidbits. I went back to the basics. Three weeks ago I made some basic herbal infusions. Simple enough. Herb, hot water, and steep. Got it. Then I made a lovely decoction. That turned out quite tasty. I used the Immune Building Chai Tea recipe from Herb Mentor. It was delicious.
Simmer herb (spices) in water for 15 minutes. Strain out herbs. Add milk to desired consistency and honey to taste. I used coconut milk since I like how thick it is however almond milk does add a nice flavor.