Posted on

How to Make a Garlic and Herb Oxymel…for respiratory health

garlic and herb oxymel

It really is that time of year. The lush green of Summer melds into vibrant hues of red, yellow, and orange. There is a slight crisp to the morning air. And your kids wake up with the crud. You know the crud. Not quite sick enough to stop life, but left to its own devices, the crud can quickly turn into something worse.

Well, this morning, my youngest daughter, Liza Jane-4, woke up with the crud. She had a slight cough last night, but by morning it was hacking and phlegmy.  The first thing I did, was give her a healthy dose of my Elderberry Plus Syrup.  Then, I got to working on my Garlic and Herb Oxymel recipe. Before I get into the details of the recipe (there are two ways to make it), you are probably thinking “Oxy-what?” Oxymel comes from the Latin “oxymeli” meaning “acid and honey”. Put simply, it is a mixture of an acid-vinegar-with honey to make various herbal remedies. In our case, for respiratory support.

As I mentioned earlier, there are several ways to prepare your oxymel. The first is the preferred, but as is the case with most herbal preparations, it takes time to reach its full potency and is the way that you would make it BEFORE you need it. The second is a faster preparation for those of us who need something NOW.

The ingredients that you need for both methods are exactly the same:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar (preferably raw and organic)
  • Raw Local Honey (if possibly)
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Various Herbs (I chose mullein, thyme, sage, and oregano because these are great herbs for respiratory health)

METHOD 1

  1. Get a clean canning jar. Put equal parts of chopped garlic and your herbs in the jar. Fill it 1/3-1/4 full.
  2. Add equal portions of vinegar and honey until jar is full.
  3. SHAKE IT! Give it a shake every day.
  4. Patience. Let it sit for 2 weeks.                                                                                           IMG_0585
  5. Strain, label, and refrigerate.

METHOD 2

  1. Add herbs and apple cider vinegar to a glass pot/pan. Make sure that you use twice as much vinegar than you intend to have at the end. Also, make sure that you have a glass pot for this method. Vinegar leaches minerals and you do not want any metals leached into your oxymel. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Please be careful as vinegar is very strong when heated.                                                            IMG_0583
  2. After vinegar is reduced by half, strain, cool, and add equal parts of honey.
  3. SHAKE IT!                                                                                                                             IMG_0614
  4. Try to convince a very picky 4 year old that it doesn’t taste disgusting! I usually give a tablespoon or two every 3 hours. It should get rid of the crud fairly quickly. I’ve never had to give an oxymel for more than 24 hours!

Now, there is a pretty popular oxymel that is making its way around the internet-any guesses as to what it is called? The first person to comment below the correct answer wins an 8oz. bottle of my Garlic and Herb Oxymel-not available for purchase!

Posted on

All About Herbal Tinctures

all about tinctures

Herbal tinctures are one of my favorite ways to take herbal medicine. They are fast-acting, potent, and portable! While teas are great, and I LOVE my teas, tinctures are usually my go-to for the ease and quickness. A dropper full of tincture is easy to just squirt into your mouth-whereas you have to go through the process of boiling water, steeping herbs, straining, sweetening, etc. Which, don’t get me wrong-I love the ritual of brewing teas! But, when you have a sinus headache, you want something to hit it fast and hard.

Oh, you don’t know what a tincture is? Let me explain! A tincture is simply an extract of constituents of the plant material into a menstruum (solvent-alcohol, vinegar, or vegetable glycerin, typically). My preferred menstruum is alcohol. I personally use 190 proof organic alcohol that I then dilute down to appx. 100 proof. But, you can just buy a cheap bottle of vodka, rum, brandy, etc. as long as it is around 100 proof (50%). Anything less and you run the risk of not getting the full extraction.

I use tinctures for all kinds of things. Headaches, stress, allergies, sleeplessness, anxiety, liver support, digestion, respiratory support, immune boosting. All the things! As I said, alcohol is the preferred solvent, as it and the water content are sure to extract the alkaloids and water soluble components of the plant. Now, the exception is if I want to extract the nourishing components of a plant (vitamins and minerals). In that case, I like to use apple cider vinegar.

If you are concerned about using alcohol preparations, fear not! I give them to my children. If you think about it-the amount of alcohol in a dosage is about 15-20 drops. That comes to MAYBE a mL of alcohol. One serving of alcohol is 30 mL (one ounce). You would have to drink an entire 1 ounce bottle of tincture to get a mixed drink’s serving of alcohol. And, a child’s dosage is even less-depending on weight it is between 3-10 drops. There is more alcohol in the vanilla extract you are cooking with! The only concern, in my opinion, with using alcohol based tinctures with children is convincing them to use it. Because, the taste leaves much to be desired.  You can hide it in tea, smoothies, apple sauce, etc.  There is the option of glycerin based tinctures, but they aren’t as effective.

Interested in making your own tinctures? Keep reading for a simple tutorial!

IMG_0514

Step 1: Get some herbs. Ideally, you want to work with freshly harvested herbs. Unfortunately, we don’t all have access to a bountiful herb garden or know how to properly wild craft. So, the option is to use dried. You can purchase them in bulk from various stores online, Mountain Rose Herbs, Bulk Herb Store, Monterrey Bay Herb Co., Starwest Botanicals are a few that I love. OR, you can contact me for smaller 1 ounce amounts. Sometimes it is intimidating receiving a pound of herbs when you are just starting out! For this tincture, I am using dried skullcap. Skullcap is fabulous for stress, anxiety, and pain relief. I LOVE it. It’s one of my most popular tinctures. There are two methods to use here. 1-the folk method. Put some herbs in a jar. Just an eyeballed amount. Perfect for folks who are just making it for themselves and don’t worry if one batch is more potent than the next. and 2-the weight to volume method (w:v). Each herb has a specific w:v ratio, but the most common is 1:5. Which means, that for 1 part of plant material, you use 5 parts solvent. So, for example, you have 2 ounces of skullcap by weight. You will need 10 ounces of alcohol. If you are making them for yourself, friends, and family, this method is unnecessary.

IMG_0515

Step 2: Combine with menstruum in jar. Put your herbs in a clean mason jar. Cover with your solvent. Make sure all the plant material is covered. You can even have a few inches extra in the jar. Cap it. Give it a shake.

Step 3: LABEL!! You do not want a jar of mystery tincture in your house. Trust me. The label should have the name of the herb (common and botanical), the menstruum used, and the date you prepared it.

Step 4: Wait. Patiently. It takes at least 6 weeks for a tincture to fully macerate.  Keep it on your counter. Give it a shake everyday/every other day.

IMG_0516

Step 5. Strain. Use a fine wire mesh strainer, or some cheesecloth/muslin. I invert the jar over the strainer and let it sit for a few hours. Then, I press all the herbs to make sure I get all the liquid out. Compost the remnants (marc).

Step 6. Bottle. You can just rinse out your jar and pour your tincture right back in it. I would suggest getting a few dropper bottles (always glass!!!) for easy of dosage and convenience. Store the majority away in the jar, and keep your little bottle in your purse, bathroom, etc, wherever you keep your medicine. Again, make sure that you label your bottles!!

Do you make your own tinctures? I’d love to see pictures! Share them on my Facebook page at Wild Earth Herbals or tag me on instagram @wildearthherbals. 

Posted on

Beat Springtime ALLERGIES at Home, Naturally.

springallergy

It’s that time again…the earth is coming back to life-flowers and trees blooming, grass is growing green again, birds are chirping, and a cloud of pollen rolls across the land. The temperature is nice enough that you want to open your windows, but a few minutes into it, and you are sneezing, coughing, and your eyes are definitely revolting.

Over-the-counter allergy medicines come with some pretty unpleasant side-effects like drowsiness, dizziness, constipation, lower milk supply in breastfeeding mothers,  dry mouth, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and more.  I know when I felt like they were my only option many years ago, even the non-drowsy medications would knock me out-and most didn’t even really work on my allergy symptoms!

Let’s start at the root of the problem. Why do we have seasonal allergies? How are so many people allergic to nature? Didn’t humans used to be outdoors much more so than they are now? What the heck did they do before antihistamines???

“Allergy symptoms are caused by an overactive immune system. Your immune system produces substances known as antibodies that protect you from unwanted invaders that could make you sick or cause an infection.

When you have allergies, your immune system is producing antibodies in response to exposure to things like pollen, dust, or pet dander that it perceives as harmful, even though they aren’t.

It’s not the exposure to allergens that are the root cause of your allergies, it’s your body’s overreaction causing the cascade of allergic symptoms.”  –Deane Alban, Natural News

So, it seems the most important thing that we should be doing is working on our immune system so it responds properly. But, that is a long and ongoing process. In the meantime, here are a few things that you can do to lessen your symptoms and help you through the onslaught of histamines.

Local Raw Honey  This is one of the most well known natural remedies for seasonal allergies. Local raw honey has traces of local pollen. So, the theory is that by consuming it daily throughout the year, your body is acclimated to the pollen. That way, when we are inundated with it in the spring (or fall), our bodies don’t revolt. By local I mean LOCAL. You really need to find honey that is within a 10 mile radius of where you live. Check your local Farmers’ Market; if you can’t find any there, chances are someone there will point you in the right direction. If you really can’t find ANY around, a friend of mine let me in on a little trick she discovered. She washed her car really well in the spring and allowed a good coating of pollen to accumulate. Here in the South, that takes about a day. Then, she swiped a good finger-full of pollen off her car and ate it! Sort of like a pollen-inoculation. She swears by it. Maybe have a glass of water nearby…

Apple Cider Vinegar Apple Cider Vinegar is another one of those things that we hear a lot about as a cure-all magic pill. Well, that’s because it really does help with so many things! It helps lessen the severity of your symptoms and also strengthens your immune system so over time, you won’t be affected as badly. Make sure that your vinegar has the ‘mother’ in it. That is very important.  I suggested taking a tablespoon or 2 a day mixed with some raw honey in a glass of warm water as a daily tonic. 

Herbs! Of course we knew that one was coming. While I have used honey and apple cider vinegar on a regular basis for 10+ years, nothing has come close to the relief I have found with my beloved herbs. It really is amazing how fast and effective they are. My top herbs for allergy relief are stinging nettle leaf and goldenrod.  Both are a component in my Allergy Support Tincture, and nettles are one of the main herbs in my allergy tea. I prefer to use goldenrod as an antihistamine and nettles as more of a daily support. I drink nettles infusions several times a week, and they have lessened my reactions tremendously, but sometimes I really need something extra, so I will take a few droppers full of goldenrod tincture and my symptoms go away fairly quickly. And the great thing is there are no yucky side effects! 

Do you have seasonal allergies? What have you found to be helpful to control them?

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging and social media activities, I may  receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this article. However, I only recommend products or services that are in line with my personal and professional ethics and standards.