Your Own Herbal Expert - Part 8
an article by Susun S. Weed
medicine is the medicine of the people. It is simple,
safe, effective, and free. Our ancestors used -
and our neighbors around the world still use - plant
medicines for healing and health maintenance. It's
easy. You can do it too, and you don't need a degree
or any special training.
Ancient memories arise in you when you begin to
use herbal medicine. These lessons are designed
to nourish and activate those memories and your
inner herbalist so you can be your own herbal expert.
In our first lesson, we learned how to "listen"
to the plants by focusing on how they taste. In
lesson two, we explored simples and water-based
herbal remedies. In the third lesson, we learned
how to tell safe (nourishing and tonifying) herbs
from more dangerous (stimulating and sedating) herbs.
Our fourth lesson dealt with poisons; we learned
how to make a tincture and we put together our Herbal
Medicine Chest. The fifth lesson found us making
herbal vinegars, and the sixth, making herbal oils.
In our last lesson together, we looked at our thoughts
about healing; we discussed the Scientific goal
of fixing the broken machine, the Heroic intention
to cleanse the toxins from our polluted bodies,
and the Wise Woman desire to nourish the wholeness
of the unique individual.
In this, the eighth lesson, we return to the herbal
pharmacy, to make healing sweets: herbal honeys,
syrups, and cough drops.
In our next lesson, the ninth and last of this series,
we will continue our exploration of the ideas behind
healing with a tour of the Seven Medicines.
Honey has been regarded as a healing substance for
thousands of years. Greek healers relied on honey
water, vinegar water, and honey/vinegar water as
their primary cures. An Egyptian medical text dated
to about 2600 BCE mentions honey 500 times in 900
remedies. What makes honey so special?
First, honey is antibacterial. It counters infections
on the skin, in the intestines, in the respiratory
system, or throughout the body.
Second, honey is hydroscopic, a long word meaning
"water loving". Honey holds moisture in
the place where it is put; it can even draw moisture
out of the air. A honey facial leaves skin smooth
and deliciously moist. These two qualities - anti-infective
and hydroscopic - make honey an ideal healer of
wounds of all kinds, including burns, bruises and
decubita (skin ulcers), an amazing soother for sore
throats, a powerful ally against bacterial diarrhea,
and a counter to asthma.
Third, honey may be as high as 35 percent protein.
This, along with the readily-available carbohydrate
(sugar) content, provides a substantial surge of
energy and a counter to depression. Some sources
claim that honey is equal, or superior, to ginseng
in restoring vitality. Honey's proteins also promote
healing, both internally and externally.
And honey is a source of vitamins B, C, D and E,
as well as some minerals. It appears to strengthen
the immune system and help prevent (some authors
claim to cure) cancer.
Honey is gathered from flowers, and individual honeys
from specific flowers may be more beneficial than
a blended honey. Tupelo honey, from tupelo tree
blossoms, is high in levulose, which slows the digestion
of the honey making it more appropriate for diabetics.
Manuka honey, from New Zealand, is certified as
antibacterial. My "house brand" is a rich,
black, locally-produced autumn honey gathered by
the bees from golden rod, buckwheat, chicory, and
other wild flowers.
Raw honey also contains pollen and propolis, bee
and flower products that have special healing powers.
Bee pollen, like honey, is a concentrated source
of protein and vitamins; unlike honey, it is a good
source of minerals, hormonal precursors, and fatty
acids. Bee pollen has a reputation for relieving,
and with consistent use, curing allergies and asthma.
The pollens that cause allergic reactions are from
plants that are wind-pollinated, not bee-pollinated,
so any bee pollen, or any honey containing pollen,
ought to be helpful. One researcher found an 84
percent reduction in symptoms among allergy sufferers
who consumed a spoonful of honey a day during the
spring, summer, and fall plus three times a week
in the winter.
Propolis is made by the bees from resinous tree
saps and is a powerful antimicrobial substance.
Propolis can be tinctured in pure grain alcohol
(resins do not dissolve well in 100 proof vodka,
my first choice for tinctures) and used to counter
infections such as bronchitis, sinusitis, colds,
flus, gum disease, and tooth decay.
WARNING: All honey, but especially
raw honey, contains the spores of botulinus. While
this is not a problem for adults, children under
the age of one year may not have enough stomach
acid to prevent these spores from developing into
botulism, a deadly poison.
Herbal honeys are made by pouring honey over fresh
herbs and allowing them to merge over a period of
several days to several months. When herbs are infused
into honey, the water-loving honey absorbs all the
water-soluble components of the herb, and all the
volatile oils too, most of which are anti-infective.
Herbal honeys are medicinal and they taste great.
When I look at my shelf of herbal honeys I feel
like the richest person in the world.
Using Your Herbal Honeys
Place a tablespoonful of your herbal honey (include
herb as well as honey) into a mug; add boiling water;
stir and drink. Or, eat herbal honeys by the spoonful
right from the jar to soothe and heal sore, infected
throats and tonsils. Smear the honey (no herb please)
onto wounds and burns.
Make an Herbal Honey
Coarsely chop the fresh herb of your choice
(leave garlic whole).
Put chopped herb into a wide-mouthed jar,
filling almost to the top.
Pour honey into the jar, working it into
the herb with a chopstick if needed.
Add a little more honey to fill the jar to
the very top.
Cover tightly. Label.
Your herbal honey is ready to use in as little as
a day or two, but will be more medicinal if allowed
to sit for six weeks.
Herbal honeys made from aromatic herbs make wonderful
Make a Russian Cold Remedy
Fill a small jar with unpeeled cloves of
If desired, add one very small onion, cut
in quarters, but not peeled.
Fill the jar with honey.
Label and cover.
This remedy is ready to use the next day. It is
taken by the spoonful to ward off both colds and
flus. It is sovereign against sore throats, too.
And it tastes yummy!
(Garlic may also carry botulinus spores, but no
adult has ever gotten botulism from this remedy.
A local restaurant poisoned patrons by keeping garlic
in olive oil near a hot stove for months before
using it, though.)
Make an Egyptian Wound Salve
"I thought at first this would be dreadful
stuff to put on an open wound . . . Instead, the
bacteria in the fat disappeared and when pathogenic
bacteria were added . . . they were killed just
as fast," commented scientists who tested this
formula found in the ancient Smith Papyrus.
Mix one tablespoonful of honey with two tablespoonsful
of organic animal fat.
Put in a small jar and label.
Increase the wound-healing ability of this salve
by using an herbally-infused fat.
Make a Remedy to Counter Diarrhea
Fill one glass with eight ounces of orange
Add a pinch of salt and a teaspoonful of
Fill another glass with eight ounces of distilled
Add 1ž4 teaspoonful of baking soda.
Drink alternately from both glasses until
Make Dr. Christopher's Burn Healer
He recommends this for burns covering large areas.
Keep the burn constantly wet with this healer for
Place chopped fresh comfrey leaves in a blender.
Add aloe vera gel to half cover.
Add honey to cover.
Blend and apply.
Best to make only as much as you can use in a day;
store extra in refrigerator.
Fresh Plants That I Use to Make Herbal Honeys
Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
Comfrey leaf (Symphytum off.)
Cronewort/mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Fennel seeds (Foeniculum vulgare)
Garlic (Allium sativum)
Ginger root (Zingiber officinalis)
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)
Lavender (Lavendula off.)
Lemon Balm (Melissa off.)
Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla)
Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Osha root (Ligusticum porterii)
Peppermint (Mentha pipperata)
Rose petals (Rosa canina and others)
Rose hips (Rosa)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus off.)
Sage (Salvia off.)
Shiso (Perilla frutescens)
Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
Thyme (Thymus species)
Yarrow blossoms (Achillea millefolium)
Herbal syrups are sweetened, condensed herbal infusions.
Cough drops are concentrated syrups. Alcohol is
frequently added to syrups to help prevent fermentation
and stabilize the remedy. Cough drops and lozenges,
having less water, keep well without the addition
Bitter herbs, especially when effective in a fairly
small dose, are often made into syrups: horehound,
yellow dock, dandelion, chicory, and motherwort
spring to mind in this regard.
Herbs that are especially effective in relieving
throat infections and breathing problems are also
frequently made into syrups, especially when honey
is used as the sweetener: coltsfoot flowers (not
leaves), comfrey leaves (not roots), horehound,
elder berries, mullein, osha root, pine, sage, and
wild cherry bark are favorites for "cough"
Using Herbal Syrups
A dose of most herbal syrup is 1-3 teaspoonfuls,
taken as needed. Take a spoonful of bitter syrup
just before meals for best results. Take cough syrups
as often as every hour.
Make an Herbal Syrup
To make an herbal syrup you will need the following
One ounce of dried herb (weight, not volume)
A clean dry quart/liter jar with a tight
A heavy-bottomed medium-sized saucepan
2 cups sugar or 11ž2 cups honey
A sterilized jar with a small neck and a
good lid (a cork stopper is ideal)
A little vodka (optional)
A label and pen
Place the full ounce of dried herb into the quart
jar and fill it to the top with boiling water. Cap
tightly. After 4-10 hours, decant your infusion,
saving the liquid and squeezing the herb to get
the last of the goodness out of it.
Measure the amount of liquid you have (usually about
31ž2 cups). Pour this into the saucepan and bring
to a boil. Reduce the heat until the infusion is
just barely simmering. Continue to simmer until
the liquid is reduced by half (pour it out of the
pan and into the measuring cup now and then to check).
This step can take several hours; the decoction
is not spoiled if it is reduced to less than half,
but it is ruined if it boils hard or if it burns.
Keep a close eye on it.
When you have reduced the infusion to less then
two cups, add the sugar or honey (or sweetener of
your choice) and bring to a rolling boil. Pour,
boiling hot, into your jar. (Sterilize the jar by
boiling it in plain water for a few minutes just
before filling it.) If desired, add some vodka to
preserve the syrup.
Allow the bottle of syrup to come to room temperature.
Label it. Store it in the refrigerator or keep it
in a cool place.
Make Herbal Cough Drops
You must make a syrup with sugar, not honey to make
cough drops, but you can use raw sugar or brown
sugar instead of white sugar and it will work just
Instead of pouring your boiling hot syrup into a
bottle, keep boiling it. Every minute or so, drop
a bit into cold water. When it forms a hard ball
in the cold water, immediately turn off the fire.
Pour your very thick syrup into a buttered flat
dish. Cool, then cut into small squares.
A dusting of powdered sugar will keep them from
sticking. Store airtight in a cool place.
Make Throat-Soothing Lozenges
Put an ounce of marshmallow root powder or
slippery elm bark powder in a bowl.
Slowly add honey, stirring constantly, until
you have a thick paste
Roll your slippery elm paste into small balls
Roll the balls in more slippery elm powder
Store in a tightly-closed tin. These will keep for
up to ten years.
Plants That I Use to Make Herbal Syrups
Comfrey leaves (Symphytum uplandica x)
Chicory roots (Cichorium intybus)
Dandelion flowers or roots (Taraxacum off.)
Elder berries (Sambucus canadensis)
Horehound leaves and stems (Marrubium vulgare)
Motherwort leaves (Leonurus cardiaca) pick before
Plantain leaves or roots (Plantago majus)
Osha root (Ligusticum porterii)
Pine needles or inner bark (Pinus)
Sage (Salvia off.)
Wild cherry bark (Prunus serotina)
Yellow dock roots (Rumex crispus)
In our last lesson of this series, we will examine
the Seven Medicines: Serenity Medicine, Story Medicine,
Energy Medicine, LifeStyle Medicine, Herbal and
Alternative Medicine, Pharmaceutical Medicine, and
Experiment Number One
Make a simple syrup, using only one plant. Make
it once with honey, once with white sugar, and once
with a sweetener of your choice, such as barley
malt, agave syrup, molasses, sorghum syrup, or maple
syrup. (See list for suggestions of plants to use.)
Experiment Number Two
Make a syrup with three or more plants. Choose plants
that are local to your area, or ones that you can
most easily buy.
Experiment Number Three
Make three or more simple herbal honeys using different
parts of plants, such as flowers, leaves, roots,
or seeds. (See list for suggestions of plants to
Experiment Number Four
Make an herbal honey with a plant rich in essential
oils (such as sage, rosemary, lavender, or mint).
Try it as a wound treatment. Try it on minor burns.
Try it as a facial masque. Record your observations.
Experiment Number Five
Make one or more of the recipes in this lesson.
1. Make a yellow dock iron tonic syrup following
the recipe in my book Wise Woman Herbal for the
2. Make "Peel Power" following the recipe
in my book New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way.
Compare the effects of honey from the supermarket,
organic honey, raw honey, and herbal honey by using
each one to treat the same problems and carefully
recording your observations.
This is part 8 in an 8 part series by Susun
S. Weed. Part
1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part
4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part
7 | Part 8 |
Disclaimer: This content is not intended
to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions
made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose,
treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or
symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided
by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare
practitioner with a specific formula for you. All
material on this website/email is provided for general
information purposes only and should not be considered
medical advice or consultation. Contact a reputable
healthcare practitioner if you are in need of medical
care. Exercise self-empowerment by seeking a second
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Susun Weed at: www.susunweed.com and www.ashtreepublishing.com
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and involved, Susun Weed has garnered an international
reputation for her groundbreaking lectures, teachings,
and writings on health and nutrition. She challenges
conventional medical approaches with humor, insight,
and her vast encyclopedic knowledge of herbal medicine.
Unabashedly pro-woman, her animated and enthusiastic
lectures are engaging and often profoundly provocative.
Susun is one
of America's best-known authorities on herbal medicine
and natural approaches to women's health. Her four
best-selling books are recommended by expert herbalists
and well-known physicians and are used and cherished
by millions of women around the world. Learn more
article is © copyright Susun
S. Weed 2006 - Republished here with kind permission.