Following on from the last blog post hopefully some of you have made some elderberry syrup to help boost your immune system or to shorten the duration of any colds you may have had. We’ve used a small bottle up already, luckily both my daughters love the taste of it and drink it as a cordial. I prefer it hot with a squeeze of lemon juice – my thanks go to Karen Lawton of Sensory Solutions who made this for us at the last Hertfordshire Herb Group meeting. Adding the lemon juice improves the taste and adds vitamin C to the drink.

This article details and references other remedies that may help you when you have a cold or flu.

If you have a cold I think we all know the quickest way to get over the worst of it is to….. do nothing i.e. rest completely and keep warm. When me and my brothers were younger, my mum used to do this – as soon as she had a cold she would just go to bed for a whole day and sip hot honey and lemon drinks and we were always amazed that she seemed fine the next day. However, in this day and age most of us including me don’t feel able or just can’t or don’t want to do this so the following remedies are to ease the symptoms or ward off colds as far as possible.

There are some other commonsense strategies here.

Cold and Flu Tea

Mix equal parts of dried peppermint, yarrow and peppermint; a popular mix to help ward off colds.

There are lots of recipes for cold/cough syrups and teas here.

A syrup is used to treat colds, coughs, flu, mucus congestion and sore throats. They are soothing to the throat and a more palatable way to take herbs especially for children. They should keep for about a month in the refrigerator. Take a teaspoon of the syrup as needed. (If you do not store them in the refrigerator there is a risk that they will ferment and the bottle may explode!).

A basic recipe for the licorice and thyme cough syrup is:

Make a tea of your herbs (dried thyme), using half a cup of herbs to 2 cups of boiled water and allow to infuse.

For herb roots eg licorice root, you will need to make a decoction which is just a matter of simmering the roots for 15 minutes in a covered pan.

Then add the dried thyme or flowers/leaves (that you prepared above) and steep covered for another 20 minutes.

Strain through muslin or a jelly bag. While still warm, add half a cup of honey and stir well until dissolved; taste to check if sweet enough for you. If using sugar add 1 pound of sugar to 1 pint of liquid.

Stir well until dissolved.

Pour into sterilised glass bottles with a cork lid or other tight lid. Place in refrigerator once cool and use within one month.

Some examples of herbs that can be used are licorice, ginger, elderberry (see last newsletter for the recipe for this one; very slightly different method), lemon balm, fennel or thyme.

Other drinks

I’m sure most of you know the hot lemon and honey drink which is good for relieving cold symptoms. You can also add grated ginger root if you are feeling cold.

Also check this blog post article:

The Cold And Flu Recipe That Works Like Magic

The website also details some herbal inhalations that may be helpful on this page. This page also details the benefits of taking Echinacea when taken at the onset of a cold or flu.


Enjoy some nourishing chicken soup, onion soup whilst you recover; they will warm you up and give your system a rest from heavier meals so it has more energy to heal you.

You can find a recipe for the Herby Onion Soup on my blog.

Vapour rubs and more recipes can be found on the website here.

Please note that some herbs which are beneficial in small doses can be harmful if taken to excess or for a long period. You are advised that self-treatment for serious or long-term problems without consulting a qualified medicinal practitioner should not be attempted. If you are pregnant or already taking any medication, you should obtain medical advice on whether any herbs or spices should be consumed and whether there are any contra-indications with the proposed herbs to be taken. Taking this into account, before trying any herbal remedies, I recommend that you sample a small quantity first to establish whether you experience any adverse or allergic reaction. I can not be held responsible for any adverse reactions to the recipes, recommendations and instructions contained in the article, and the use of any herbs or spices mentioned is entirely at the reader’s own risk.


Website Changes

October 14, 2010

I feel it’s time for a revamp of the website to make it more useful to you and also more manageable for me. This will take place gradually over the next few months.

For starters I have made the following two changes:

1.  The Herb Events page has been removed – this page didn’t seem to get much use and takes a very long time to research and compile.  If you’d like a mention for your herb event I’m happy to do so in a blog post and I will be listing a few of the regulars every couple of months to let you all know what is coming up so you can book your places.

2.  I have taken down the Forum page as this also wasn’t well used – partly as I hadn’t promoted it very much. Instead it would be good to connect with you on either my Mad About Herbs Facebook Group or on Twitter. If you want to add me as a friend on Facebook, please send me a short message with your request so I know who you are even if you just say that you are a reader of this blog.

There is still a lot more that I need to update and adjust and I’m interested to know what you like/don’t like; please be constructive (comments are moderated), also let me know of  any suggestions/additions that would benefit you as a website visitor.  Thank you!


Elderberry Creations

September 14, 2010

Ah, the benefits of not pruning the hedge at the bottom of the garden – lots of elderberries within easy reach thanks to the elder trees growing in the hedge! I had a lovely Sunday afternoon harvesting the elderberries then turning them into syrup and an elixir. It’s lovely being able to make useful immune system boosters with free food.  There’s even a website dedicated to elderberries, you’ll find it here.


Ready to cook after stripping them off with a fork.

Ready to cook after stripping them off the stems with a fork.

I turned this picking into 4 bottles of elderberry syrup flavoured with cinnamon and lime (the addition of lime being inspired by my Grow Your Own Drugs book which I got for my birthday). I also made some Elderberry Elixir which smells lovely already. It’s made with elderberries, honey and brandy and is currently infusing in my understairs cupboard. Just have to try and resist drinking it for another 4 to 6 weeks. After this time I need to strain out the elderberries and bottle it, oh and label it, then drink it – can’t wait! Thanks to Kiva Rose and Sarah Head for their recipes.

Doesn't look very appetising but once strained and bottle and you taste it you'll be surprised!

Elderberry Elixir infusing – doesn't look very appetising right now but once strained and bottled and you taste it you'll be surprised!

This little lot should help boost the immune system and prevent or reduce the severity of any colds and flu we come across as a family over the next few months.  I must try Kiva’s advice on the most effective treatment, she states “Take 1/4 – 1/2 dropperfull of Elixir every two to three hours at the first sign of illness. You MUST take the Elixir frequently rather than having a bigger dose further apart, it just won’t work that way. Use the same dosage if you are actively ill. For a general preventative dose, I suggest 1/3 dropperfull every four hours or so.” If you click on ‘Kiva Rose’ in the paragraph above, you will find the recipe for the Elixir and some more detailed information.

If you want more photos you can look at my previous blog post about elderberry syrup making.

If you have any favourite elderberry recipes, feel free to leave me a comment below. If you’d like the elderberry syrup recipe let me know that too and I’ll publish it in the next blog post.

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