So you bought your "tea" blend and now you want to use it in the most effective way. GREAT! Welcome to the world of herbalism. The study of herbs as medicinal use dates back as far as 60,000 years ago, as seen in archeological evidence. Still today modern western medicine uses plants and herbs in the production of medicine. Plants and food are the first line of defense and offense for the human body to maintain a stable homeostatic state. That's no easy feat since there are so many ways for us to get knocked off into dis-ease or imbalance. Lifestyle, genetics, pollution, exposure to toxins, and stress. These are our constant companions on this journey called life. Together they blend together so it's up to us to figure out how to find balance to be our healthiest. A great place to start is of course fresh, clean, organic foods to support all these stressors, rest, sleep, and play. I know sometimes that's easier said than done life is after all chaotic and not always do our "plans" unfold. So the next thing to undertake is to be easy on yourself. Self-care is crucial to supporting a healthy being. It's different for everyone so take off the perfection hat and do the best you can. Herbal supplements are great, but tinctures allow you to get the most therapeutic parts of an herb. Don't forget to check with your physician before starting herbs especially if you are on medication.
Tinctures 101: A tincture is simple. It's an infusion of dried herbs & an alcohol base of at least 80 proof. Think vodka. The alcohol is the best substance to draw out the qualities of the herb and preserve them. Some folks use apple cider vinegar or Glycerine but ultimately they just aren't the best means to grab the awesomeness of the herb. The amount of alcohol that will be consumed is pretty minimal. Usual dosage is 2-3 droppers a day. (1 dropper 2-3 times a day) That's the equivalent of the alcohol in a ripe banana. To begin you want to know what your body needs (ie: belly issues, headaches, fatigue) buy the dried herbs, my blend, or dry your own. Make sure they are completely dry. USE ONLY ORGANIC HERBS. If using a blend with berries or fruit add a bit of water as well. 1) Put completely dry & chopped herbs in a sanitized mason jar measured out by volume not by weight (yes the sanitize option on your dishwasher is fine). I have filled the jar almost completely with the herbs and leaving about 1/4 space at the top. 2) Fill the mason jar with vodka or similarly potent food based alcohol 3) Make sure the alcohol covers the herbs completely--you may need to cap then turn the jar upside down for a moment--then fill some more. 4) Set aside in a dark area for 2-3 weeks turning occasionally. 5) Your tincture is now ready. Get a large bowl and a strainer with a very clean cotton cloth like an old t-shirt or tea towel. This cloth will be ruined so something you don't mind throwing away or being very stained. 6) Place the bowl under the strainer which is lined with the cloth 7) Slowly pour the tincture over the cloth and strainer. When most of the visible liquid is poured place the wet herbs in the strainer. Wrap the herbs in the cloth and squeeze the herbs. Keep squeezing until most of the alcohol is released from the herbs. 8) pour into an eyedropper bottle and the rest in a mason jar. Your tincture has an unlimited shelf life due to the alcohol. 9) Take as needed.
Making a Syrup & Herbal blends
Keeping your family healthy and adding lots of vitamins and improving immunity isn't really rocket science. Not when you have some great resources for products, blends, and recipes. Elderberry Syrup is a really simple syrup to make. You can keep it basic and just steep your dried berries for a few hours or get a little fancy. My elderberry syrup has a ton of products blended for immunity boosting, supporting, and overall vitamin C packed winter goodness. You can do it too! The process can be a bit messy when you get into large quantities but just for home steeping you can do it. I've made elderberry syrup for ages. But when I started making it in large batches everyone wanted some, so be prepared for family and friends to want some too! I order pretty bottles and add labels but you don't have to do that. A syrup is basic. An acidic berry or fruit, sugar & honey, immunity boosting herbs and flavorings (aka herbal goodness). You can simmer it down until it is a very thick syrup or do what I do now and add tons of herbs, lemon juice and spices to make it taste even better and avoid the all day simmer. Here's what you need:
dried elderberries (or pick your own if you live near a damp bank and have the big elderberry bushes)
quality spices--like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove (I use them whole and ground--whatever you have is fine)
lemon or lemon juice not from concentrate
bag of Cold & Flu Tea
mason jars or boston rounds with caps
Elderberries used to be cheap, not any more. Simple demand is making them skyrocket in price. My suggestion is buy them in the summer or spring when demand is low. You should not pay more than $55 for 1 lb bag. They used to be $20 a bag. No more. bummer. If you are making just a couple bottles you only need 4-6 oz, but it is cheaper to buy larger quantities and they store nicely.
empty berries into large pot
pour filtered water over berries (about four times the volume of the berries)
turn heat to high
bring to boil for 5 minutes
turn pot to simmer or low
wait 30 minutes and add spices and herbs & some sugar (I added about 1 1/2 cups sugar to the large pot)
simmer at least 2 hours or with or without lid (without will create a thick syrup)
simmer to desired thickness. 2 - 3 hours is sufficient
Allow to cool slightly & add honey then a cup of lemon juice for this large pot ( you may do this before or after you strain but I think it's easier before you strain but up to you). You can add an entire jar of raw honey. It will thicken it and add all sorts of health benefits.
strain in the sink using your berry strainer---it's really messy so wear your rubber gloves and an apron.
jar in mason jars or boston rounds. Label and date. Refrigerate
Have questions about tinctures or syrups...or the like....give me a call or email and I'm glad to help. firstname.lastname@example.org 781-608-5185 Cheers! Marcia
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The use of herbs or oils for the prevention or cure of disease has not been approved by the FDA or USDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.