Thursday, October 29, 2009

Elderberry syrup

The elder tree was used to ward off evil influences and protect you from witches, according to folklore in many countries. If an elder tree was cut down, a spirit known as the Elder Mother would be released and take her revenge. The tree could only safely be cut while chanting a rhyme to the Elder Mother.

And speaking of elderberries, elderberry syrup is an excellent remedy for the flu. It contains flavonoids and anthocyanins that have been shown in scientific studies to stimulate the immune system and have anti-inflammatory qualities (say goodbye to those aches and pains).

However, only the extract is shown to have these qualities, so don't really expect some jam on your toast to keep the flu at bay. Black elderberry extract can be given to both children and adults without any known side effects or negative interactions.

The syrup is easy to make, and once it's done I would store it in a clean, glass jar in your fridge. The recipe has a lot of sugar in it, so it will stay good for a very long time.

Dosage: 1 teaspoon–1 tablespoon (5–15 ml) for children, 2 teaspoons–2 tablespoons (10–30 ml) for adults) can be taken twice daily.

Note: Elderberries ARE POISONOUS until they have been cooked. Black elderberries should be used for the extract and they shouldn't be eaten raw. The toxin is located in a coating that surrounds the seed on the inside of the berry. When you cook the berries, the mashing and heat helps to release this toxic coating. This means that a thin layer of goop will line your pan after you cook the berries, you can either use a pan you've been meaning to throw away (though I don't advocate that) or you can use a little kerosene to clean it up. And you were thinking those raw berries looked tasty...

Also, this stuff STAINS so if you don't want it to get stained, to wear/use it.

A 5-gallon bucket that is between half-full (at least) and 3/4-full of shucked black elderberries (berries that have already been removed from the stems). You will have an overflowing bucket if the berries haven't been picked off the stems yet.

1-1/2 to 2 c. sugar (depends on if you half half a bucket or 3/4 of one)

1/2 c. water and NO MORE.

2 juicy lemons


A potato masher

A long-handled spoon (wooden is best)

A pan that you don't mind ruining, throwing away, or using a lot of elbow grease on to get clean.

Place all the berries in a large pot (a stockpot works good) with a half cup of water and bring to a boil.

Slowly stir in the sugar and reduce heat to a nice simmer. Use the potato masher to squash up all the berries until they're nice and mushy. Get it a good squashing and stirring every 15 minutes or so.

Let cook for at least an hour or until reduced (the syrup will completely coat the back of the spoon).

When the berries are done, give them a good final mashing. At this point you can squeeze in the juice of two lemons (this is a very important step, it cuts the bitterness of the berries and makes the syrup palatable).

Strain the syrup through the cheesecloth into a large, clean, glass jug (I use a tea pitcher). It will make a lot of syrup. Store in the fridge and take daily!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Elderberry Syrup

My house smells wonderful right now! I have made a reduction of elderberry juice and it takes beautifully! I'm going to try it out on some buckwheat pancakes and then see how it holds up in some ginger ale before I post the recipe here.

I'm sure it'll be delicious, and even if it doesn't do so well on pancakes it'll make a great flu and cold medicine like I originally intended!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Roll Your Own, Part 1

Sometimes we just like to smoke a little herb...

Okay, so I'm going to say this in every cigarette entry I make... smoking is bad for you. It contains carbon monoxide and it causes lung cancer. You shouldn't smoke.


Sometimes you need a way to help you quit smoking, and sometimes you need a good herbal cigarette to help calm you down. This particular cigarette is a nice, relaxing smoke with a slight menthol-like flavor. Use the herbs in whatever amounts you like best, and then roll them up with cigarette papers (by hand or with a roller). I mostly use damiana and peppermint and then I toss a little raspberry and catnip in there for good measure.

All herbs should be dried:
Raspberry leaves
Peppermint leaves

Roll up and enjoy (sparingly...).

Monday, May 11, 2009

Divination Incense

Sorry guys, it's been awhile since I lasted posted anything. You know how it is though, sometimes life gets in the way.

I've been wanting to make an incense for divination for a long time. This would be something you burn while reading cards, scrying, or using runes. This particular combination of herbs is also good for psychic awareness.

To make the incense, finely grind up the following herbs and burn over glowing charcoal. I usually store them clearly labeled in small bottles in a cool, dry area.

3 springs Thyme
1 part Catnip
1 part Sandalwood
1 part Yarrow
1/2 part Rose
1/2 part Orris root
4 Star Anise (inner seeds taken out and crushed up)
a few pinches Cardamom
a couple drops of Ylang Ylang essential oil

This also makes a good meditation incense.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ulcer Tea

Mariah had been having some pretty bad pains in her stomach. We've figured that it's an ulcer so we devised a plan to get it under control. We started by changing her diet. Mariah loves coffee but every single time she drank it her stomach would hurt, so we cut it out. I also toned down some of the spices in my cooking. Anytime a food seemed to bother her, we cut it out. None of these changes are permanent yet, I'm going to leave that up to her.

Another thing I did was develop an ulcer tea. She has said that as long as she drinks this tea a couple of times a week her stomach feels good. It's kind of a tummy-soother. It's cheap to make and super easy.

Just a warning though, licorice root can increase your blood pressure even if you don't have to worry about your blood pressure normally. Mariah only drinks this tea 4-6x a month, and she has no adverse effects. Please be cautious. Another thing, if you smoke weed, do not drink this tea and smoke weed at the same time. Since weed increases your heart rate and the tea could possibly increase your blood pressure, it seems like it could potentially become a bad situation. 30% of our population smokes marijuana and I will not neglect to mention their health when it comes to herbs.

Ulcer Tea

What you need:
Cooking pot
Tea ball

Licorice Root (dried)
Marshmallow Root (dried)

To make this tea, use 1 tsp. licorice root per 1 cup water. Place the tea ball in the water and heat gently on low or medium-low for a couple minutes (do not bring to a boil or even a simmer). When the tea becomes dark, take the tea ball out, and add in 1/2 tsp. marshmallow root per 1 cup of water. Let this steep about 30 seconds to a minute, then taste the tea. If the tea is to your desired sweetness, it's ready to drink. If you'd like it a little sweeter, let the marshmallow root steep a little longer. Serve hot.

Note: The longer the marshmallow root steeps, the sweeter your tea will be. It won't take long before the tea becomes undrinkable!

2 cups a day, a couple times a week, until your symptoms subside. When your stomach starts acting up again, start the tea regime.

You could also take a deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) supplement to avoid the blood pressure risk.

PEPPERMINT - although good for nausea, has no effect on ulcers
GARLIC - once thought to be bad, is actually quite good for ulcers. It's antibacterial properties have been shown in labs to kill H. pylori (the cause of most ulcers... yes, it's a bacterial infection!). Eat a couple cloves of roasted garlic a day.
RHUBARB - the supplements are very good for treating ulcers
MILK - VERY BAD. Once thought to neutralize the ulcer, it actually aggravates it. A lot. Besides, most adults can't digest milk anyway, so by leaving it out of your diet you're doing yourself a favor!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Valerian... demystified

The root of valerian, a perennial herb native to North America, Asia, and Europe, is used most commonly for its sedative and hypnotic properties in people with insomnia. Multiple preparations are available, and the herb is commonly combined with other herbal medications.

Dosage- (Scientific-y)
Based on the reviewed studies, the effective dosage of valerian root extract for treatment of insomnia ranges from 300 to 600 mg. An equivalent dose of dried herbal valerian root is 2 to 3 g, soaked in one cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes. The product should be ingested 30 minutes to two hours before bedtime.

Dosage- (Demystified)
Or, between 1-3 capsules of Valerian root half an hour before you go to bed (just not more than two hours before bed).

As with all herbal products, people are affected differently. I would recommend taking half the recommended dose the first night then increasing or decreasing depending on how well it worked for you.

Side Effects-
Drowsiness (duh), dizziness (duh). In about 10% of people it acts as a stimulant. It also causes nightmares in some people...

I tried valerian root for the first time last night. I work late and I have school early the next morning and I have a hard time falling asleep. I decided to try valerian because I don't like the thought of synthetic sleep-inducers. It's a good thing I only took 1/3 the recommended dosage because I had crazy dreams all night long. Vivid too. I can still remember them. I had hoped it would give me a good night's sleep, but instead I dreamt about cockroaches and people chasing me around with knives. That's not exactly restful. I wouldn't discourage anyone from trying valerian (in fact, I'm gonna take it again tonight just to see if it will affect me the same), but be forewarned. Also, I'm the minority. Most people don't have any problem with valerian.

On the plus side, I didn't wake up groggy.

As with all sleep aids, if you value your liver, DO NOT take it with alcohol, other downers, or antihistimines.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday Night Special: Biggest Full Moon of 2009

I thought that this was rather interesting. I personally feel like a "moonchild" and I know many of you out there feel the same way. If skies are clear Saturday, go out at sunset and look for the giant moon rising in the east. It will be the biggest and brightest one of 2009, sure to wow just about everyone.

The word January came from the Roman name for this month. It was named after the God Janus, who was the God with two faces. This was the God of the past and future, beginnings and endings. This is the perfect time to put aside the old and the bad in your life and start anew with fresh new thoughts and goals.

NATURE SPIRITS : gnomes and brownies
HERBS: marjoram, holy thistle, nuts and cones
COLORS: white, blue-violet and black
FLOWERS: snowdrop, crocus
SCENTS: musk and mimosa
STONES: garnet, onyx, jet, and chrysoprase
TREES: Birch
ANIMALS: Fox and Coyote
BIRDS: pheasant and the bluejay
DEITIES: Freya, Inanna, Sarasvati, Hera, CH'ang-O, Sinn
POWER AREAS: Sluggish, below the surface, beginning and conceiving, protection.
Conserve energy by working on your own personal problems that involve no-one else. Time to work on new goals.

Looks like tonight I'll be sitting out at moonrise with my wife, burning a Full Moon incense, and saying a little prayer to God about the forthcoming year.