On the market today there are a lot of cough syrups that are full of astonishingly contradicting ingredients that are no good for your health. I have seen ingredients such as red dyes, blue dyes, artificial flavoring, corn syrup, sugars and many preservatives. And before someone says, “I cannot get my child to take anything else because it tastes terrible” I have got a recipe for an alternative syrup that is just as sweet without all of the nasty additives.
Health starts with simplicity. Most importantly, simplicity of ingredients starting with the food we eat and the medicine we take. A lot of the pharmaceuticals that are on the market are mostly made of synthetic ingredients that mimic the same active components that are in plants that provide the same effect WITHOUT all of the side effects. So why aren’t we using more plant medicine? I think that question has been asked for years.
In a later post I will discuss the western medicine history. At this time I am going to provide you with a few recipes that can help you soothe a cough or flu and help support the immunes system while your feeling ill.
First let me start with Elderberries. Elderberries are well known in the herbal world. Elderberries active components include antibacterial, antiviral, and immunostimulant.
Immunostimulant means that elderberries help stimulate the immune response in times of illness. (So in a way it tells the immune system to get up and get its butt into gear!)
Elderberries are by far my favorite ingredient for herbal syrups, not only because their delicious, but because they are very helpful in fighting the flu in particular. There is ample research that supports the efficacy of elderberry as a remedy for many strains of the flu such as influenza A and B.
Elderberries are wonderful alone, but they are said to be an even more potent medicine when made with elderflower as well. Unfortunately, Elderberries aren’t as efficient for fighting off the rhinovirus responsible for the cold but it can be taken to increase immune response. So in other words, it might not help the cold go away or feel better, but it will benefit your immune system as a whole with the strengthening of the healing process.
Elderberry syrup is especially delicious for children, its safe and effective, especially when helping to fight off a respiratory infection.
Syrups work best when your working with hard herbs such as berries, stems and roots. This is because the first process of making a syrup includes a decoction. First you must choose the herbs of purpose that you will be using for your syrup.
Simmer into a decoction until they become a bit concentrated and strong. You can do this by adding your herbs to the bottom of a pot. ( I usually use about 1-2oz of herb per each cup of water.) Add your Cold water and slowly bring to a slow simmer for about 30-45 minutes.
After your time has passed you should notice that the liquid in your pan should have reduced by half. At this point you can either use that water and add another half of a cup and another 1-2oz of herbs and decoct again or you can leave it like this.
Strain your herbs through a mesh strainer and add to a glass amber jar. Pour in raw honey sweetener until its to a taste that you like.
You can take this syrup as much as needed. As much as 1 tablespoon every 2 hours and 1 teaspoon every hour to an hour and a half for children under 1-4 years of age.
Syrups are a delicious way to stay healthy and they are very versatile. Depending on what your making your syrup for, I would always suggest using herbs that you can make decoctions from such as, rosehips, cinnamon, licorice root, ginger, orange peel, etc. These herbs have to be concentrated down into a thick, strong liquid so I find I personally like using them best for my syrups.
I would highly suggest reading a book by Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, who has many recipes to offer on syrups and herbs. I have read nearly every one of her books and have referenced back to them multiple times for recipes in the past.
A few in particular that I enjoyed were.
“Herbs for Children’s Health” by Rosemary Gladstar
“Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health” by Rosemary Gladstar.
Although I have read many other herbal books in my time, I find that Rosemary provides very simple and easy to make recipes for both everyday improvement!