Growing An Aromatic Herb Garden

The first or original aromatic herb gardens were developed by the Persians sometimes over 2,000 years back in the courtyards of their residences. Generally, these herb gardens were of square or rectangular shape and usually they were separated into four by streams that originated from a centrally located fountain. These enclosed scented herb gardens were called pairidaeza, which was derived from the word ‘paradise’. The Persians are known to be outstanding gardeners and their ‘paradise’ essentially included three major features – running water, aroma, and shade.

In fact, the Byzantine church was mainly instrumental in making the concept of such scented herb garden popular in the western regions of Europe, earlier in the structure of cloister gardens, which were soon found in all monasteries in the region. The concept of a walled, scented garden was readily accepted by the traditional Christianity during the medieval times. In effect, it was something familiar to observing the entire creation in a representational term. By now, the references in the Bible, since the Garden of Eden to the Song of Songs, had corroborated gardens like these in the form of illustrations of the Paradise itself.

Way back in 1260, a Dominican monk Albertus Magnus spelled out the prerequisites for developing ideal pleasure gardens. He specified that the scented herb gardens ought to have a fountain plus a lawn, comprising all perfumed herbs, for instance, sage, rue and basil and similarly, include every type of flowers, counting lily, violet, rose, columbine, iris and those similar to these blooms. In addition, Albertus also recommended that there ought to be a vast assortment of aromatic and therapeutic herbs at the back of the lawn. At the same time, he emphasized that the flowers should not be there just to please the sense of smell by their fragrance, but also to enliven the sense of sight by their color and beauty.

The crusaders had already introduced the rose into the western regions of Europe. Actually, the original connotation of the term rosary is said to be an encircling rose garden that is devoted to the Virgin Mary. While the initial rosaries were developed on the sacred or hallowed ground, paintings from the 16th century depict that the pattern was espoused in gardens owned privately, wherein the rose gardens, as well as arbors (retreats), were developed by the rich and royals.

Lilium candidum (Madonna lily), attractive and extremely perfumed, was among the other blessed flowers that were grown by the Christian church in the earliest times. On the other hand, in the gardens of the monastery, lilies and roses were grown in concert along with particularly fragrant herbs like rosemary and lavender. Historians who specialized on gardens are of the view that the medieval romance garden, as well as the Renaissance love garden, were mainly rose plus herb gardens, which were held in high esteem both for their visual features as well as their efficacy.

The era of Queen Elizabeth I’s sovereignty is considered to be the prime of such scented herb gardens. During this period, people took delight in pleasantly aromatic food, clothes, and rooms. It is documented that the mistress of one manor house during the Elizabethan reign cultivated aromatic flowers as well as fragrant plants in a private formal garden generally fenced by rose briers plus fruit trees for enjoying a walk as well as sitting in the garden. In addition, the aromatic herb garden was also utilized to supply the ingredients for the mistress’ still room. In her still room, the mistress made ‘sweet waters’ using rose petals and flowers of rosemary as well as curative lotions using the stems of the spikes of lavender and the Madonna lily. Scented herbs, such as rue and hyssop, were cultivated to cover the floors of rooms with a view to disinfect the air, while they’re dried up flowers were packed into pillows and cushions to support sound sleep.

A contemporary herb garden also comprises herbal plants, which are esteemed for their fragrant attributes. In fact, a scented herb garden is a place which you may possibly want to visit to relax yourself following a hectic day. Such a garden may perhaps be made up of a small number of pleasingly aromatic herbs grown in containers and placed in one corner of the porch, a vast garden having sitting area, or simply comprise numerous aromatic herbs grown along a preferred pathway in your courtyard.

It may be noted that the majority of the aromatic herbs usually emit their fragrance more when someone brushes against them or touches them. In addition, a pleasant waft will also transport the fragrant scent of the herb throughout the yard and to you. Remember this aspect when you are deciding on the place where you desire to have your scented herb garden. It would surely be an excellent idea to have it close to your home.

When we are talking about aromatic herbs, you may choose from a wide variety of them. Take into account that simply for the reason that a herb is aromatic, it does not imply that you will alone take delight in its fragrance. Prior to selecting as well as planting your desired scented herb garden, you need to take the aroma of every plant with a view to ensure that its scent gives you pleasure.

Fragrant Herbs for the Garden

As mentioned above, there are assortments of aromatic herbs from which you may choose for your scented herb garden. Below is a list of such scented herbs which most people believe have a delightful fragrance. However, this list should never be considered to be a complete or final catalog of scented herbs, as there are a great many amazingly aromatic herbs which may be compiled in a list in this article. It is advisable that before you purchase any herb, you should personally examine every herb by rubbing a leaf of the plant and inhaling its aroma to ensure that it releases an aroma that you may find to be delightful. The fact remains that the same aroma is not preferred by everyone and this is something which makes the world revolve.

Generally, people consider basil to be a herb that is mostly used for cooking. However, the irrefutable fragrance of this herb is pleasing as well as comforting. Catnip is another herb which emits a pleasant aroma, you ought to be conscious that the kitties in your neighborhood would also get pleasure from this plant and may perhaps result in some kind of a untidiness in your desired scented herb garden.

Cultivating catmint has a special reward and that is the loaded scent of cinnamon. This herb is really an attractive addition to any scented garden. While Nepeta Grandiflora comes to flower first and is generally incorporated in early collections, Nepeta siberica flowers during the later part of summer and is generally incorporated in the later classifications. Following the blooming of both these herbs, cut them to a height of a couple of inches, as this will encourage fresh growth as well as flowering for a second time. Several beneficial butterflies and insects visit these plants, which are frequently used in the form of an under planting for white as well as pink roses.

While most people usually think that the herb chamomile is used for preparing tea, it may be noted that this herb is also attractive and the flowers, as well as foliage, have a marvelous scent enlivening your garden.

Special mention needs to be made regarding Roman chamomile, which is among the small plants that are loaded with the aroma. Having the aroma that has a resemblance to a Jolly Rancher bitter apple candy, Roman chamomile makes a fragrant vivid green cover for the ground in places having cool summer climatic conditions. In England, this herb is frequently used to jam the fissures between the blocks of the pavement. In addition, Roman chamomile, which is also known as the English chamomile, is also used in the form of a path cover or maybe in the form of a soft cover for a bench.

In addition, you may also use Roman Chamomile to prepare an aromatic alleyway or a pleasant scented amaze grown among other plants in the garden. In case the herb is able to push its way against other plants in its vicinity, Roman Chamomile may even grow up to a height of a foot when it is in bloom.

Feverfew is another herb that has gorgeous flowers, but the majority of the plant’s aroma is released by means of its foliage and making it a pleasant inclusion in any scented herb garden. On the other hand, lavender has always been a preferred herb for gardeners growing scented herbs. The leaves, as well as the flowers of lavender, give off a potent, but comforting aroma.

The herb lemon balm derives its name from the plant’s leaves, which possess an aroma similar to that of lemons. Numerous herbal gardeners actually admire the fresh fragrance of this plant. Recognize the value of the fact that lemon balm multiplies very fast and has the aptitude to invade your garden rapidly provided its growth is not kept under control.

Mint is also an aromatic herb which may be somewhat invasive, but still, it is favored for its fresh fragrance. There are various species of mint and you may choose from spearmint, peppermint, orange mint or chocolate peppermint for growing in your scented herbal garden. Provided you restrict the growth of the different species of mint in different areas of your herbal garden, each species will be capable of releasing its distinct aroma.

Scented geraniums do not blossom very frequently nor are they eye-catching like their cousins, which are just known as geraniums. However, they emit an amazing fragrance which makes this species among the most excellent plants to be grown in any scented herbal garden. In fact, there is an assortment of scented geraniums for you to choose from for your garden. The wide variety of scented geraniums comprises cinnamon, apricot, lemon, apple, ginger, orange, nutmeg, rose, strawberry, and peppermint are only among a few of them. One needs to touch the leaves of this plant for them to emit their rich fragrance, therefore ensure that you grow these scented plants close to the boundary of your scented herbal garden. It may be noted that scented geraniums are subtle plants and in most places, they would require moving indoors during the winter months.

Anise hyssop is neither a mint nor a genuine licorice, but this herb certainly enhances the fragrance of licorice candy to your scented herbal garden. In addition, licorice mint (anise hyssop) is a wonderful culinary herb and may be used for cooking or dried up to prepare a tea. You may try to infuse some amount of this herb in milk and freeze it to prepare an ice cream. Usually, shear licorice mint returns to the ground following flowering during mid spring and again appears in the form of a small green hedge for the remaining growing season. Alternately, you may allow the plant to provide for little birds and disperse the seeds of the plant for a crop of seedlings to appear voluntarily during the subsequent spring. Whatever you may do, this plant will keep on enhancing the aroma of the herbal garden till frosting. Generally, the plants wither away and return to the ground when it frosts. Ensure that you mark the place where you are growing this plant so that it is not removed prior to its re-emergence during the next spring.

This list is likely to help you to start work on your scented herbal garden. However, always bear in mind to spend some time to personally inhale the smell of the entire herbs that are obtainable from your neighborhood gardening center prior to deciding on the specific herbs you would like to grow in your personal scented herbal garden. In fact, it will not be a very easy task choosing the herbs you would prefer to grow because there are far too many varieties available.

Lavender 101

Lavender’s sweet, floral and slightly herbaceous aroma is unmistakable. If you don’t already have this beautiful perennial shrub planted in your garden, chances are you still have the herb hidden in one of your products at home. From cosmetics, soap, and candles to herbal teas, essential oils and ice cream, lavender leaves its mark everywhere these days—not that its benefits are new. In fact, historians have recorded its use for over 2,500 years for its purifying, relaxing and protective benefits.* With 450 named varieties and cultivars, Lavandula spp. may well be one of the world’s most beloved and widely used herbs.

Lavender hails from the mint family and is a native of the Mediterranean, where it grows well in full sun and stony, well-drained soils. Those who live in dry climates, as we do here in California, prize lavender for its tolerance to drought—a real blessing for gardeners in our era of climate change. Specific cultivars and species are better suited to certain areas, although the most common medicinal species grown is Lavandula angustifolia. This fragrant and adored species sprouts long, branching stems with clusters of purple flowers, which provide the highest concentration of its essential oils. Our herbalists formulate this blend to ease stress, settle the nervous system and relax the digestive system,* although lavender has a long and diverse history of supporting many different systems of the body.

Lavender’s Latin name stems from lavare, or “to wash”—an undeniable link to its early uses. In ancient Egypt, lavender played a role in the mummification process. Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Arabs believed in its purifying properties; in fact, Arabian doctors used lavender to clean deep wounds and facilitate healing. The Greeks and Romans also used the herb for its relaxing properties to relieve worrying, stress, and occasional sleeplessness. As these empires expanded, the lavender trade spread throughout Europe and Asia, where the herb was used as a perfume, an essential oil and for herbal medicine. During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church used lavender for strewing during holy days to ward off evil spirits, and people would scatter it on the floors to keep stuffy rooms smelling fresh. The herb became even more popular during the plague, where it was used in the famous Four Thieves Vinegar to repel fleas. Lavender’s folklore has even spread to the realm of love, where it has been thought to both attract potential suitors and keep the young chaste throughout history.

Today, countless cleaning and body care companies tap into lavender’s benefits by adding it to products for its aromatherapeutic, relaxation and cleansing properties, while herbalists continue to use it in their apothecaries as they have for generations. With such a range of soothing potential, humankind’s love affair with lavender stands to endure. What is your favorite way to enjoy lavender?

Natural Home Remedies for Sore Throat

Sore throats are one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor and they tend to affect children the most. A sore throat is usually considered a minor complaint until you have one and every swallow induces pain—pain that may seem unbearable. Unfortunately, the only option is to treat the symptoms and rest until you recover. Fortunately, there are many natural remedies that can soothe a sore throat and there’s a good chance you already have many of them in your home.

Common Sore Throat Causes

There are many potential causes of a sore throat, viruses are the most common. In fact, viruses account for about 95% of sore throats in both adults and children under the age of 5. Other common causes of a sore throat include:

  • Allergies
  • Dry air
  • Pollution
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to people with a sore throat
  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Strep throat (bacterial)
  • Tonsillitis
  • Weak immune system
  • Acid reflux

Common Sore Throat Symptoms

Isn’t a sore throat a symptom itself? Yes, but as you probably already know, not all sore throats are the same and some are more severe than others. You might have one that only makes your voice a little hoarse, or it might be a serious impediment to your ability to breathe comfortably. Some of the most common symptoms of a sore throat are:

  • Pain when swallowing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dry and itchy throat
  • Swollen glands around the neck and throat
  • Hoarse voice

A sore throat is also a first symptom of the common cold and flu, but you might have other symptoms such as fever, runny nose, congestion, headache, abdominal pain, or vomiting. Consult your trusted healthcare provider if your sore throat lasts longer than one week.

Best Home Remedies for Sore Throat

1. Drink Warm Fluids

If you have a cold, make sure you’re taking in plenty of fluids. Nothing feels better than warm tea and thin soup when you’re sick. When your throat is raw and inflamed, drinking warm beverages keeps your throat moist and comfortable. Black tea might be the obvious choice, but give green or oolong tea a chance if Earl Grey just isn’t your, well, cup of tea.

2. Gargle Salt Water

For fast relief from sore throat pain, gargle 8 ounces of warm water with half a teaspoon of salt. You may have heard of this practice before and dismissed it as an old wives’ tale, but it does work and many people swear by it.

3. Use a Humidifier

If there’s anything that can make a sore throat even worse, it’s harsh, dry air. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air around you. In one study, using a humidifier reduced the severity of sore throat pain. If you’re experiencing other symptoms like upper respiratory congestion, try adding an essential oil like eucalyptus oil to the humidifier to loosen and help expel excess mucus.

4. Honey and Black Seed Oil

Honey may not be suitable for vegans, and it’s dangerous for children under the age of one. However, honey does offer many benefits. Add a teaspoon of honey to your tea, or take a spoonful by mouth to sooth your sore throat. As an added bonus, research indicates that honey significantly improves cough symptoms in children.

You can spike your honey with therapeutic spice by adding 2-3 drops of black cumin seed oil (also called black seed oil) to your honey. Like herbal teas, black cumin seed oil is an anti-inflammatory and can help soothe the pain.

5. Cold Food

Drinking or eating something cold soothes an irritated throat almost immediately. Instead of ice cream or ice pops, opt for whole fruit sorbet or make your own fruit pops to soothe the irritation.

6. Herbal Tea

Many varieties of herbal tea are effective at soothing a sore throat. Chamomile, lavender, echinacea, sage, ginger, peppermint, and licorice root tea all have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Peppermint, in particular, relieves upper respiratory congestion by improving lung function and the ability to breathe through your nose. If you need to add a little sweetener, stir a teaspoon of honey or elderberry into your herbal tea.

7. Essential Oils: Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Myrrh

Myrrh and eucalyptus are effective for soothing a sore throat but don’t take them as a tea. Instead, inhale the vapors by using a diffuser or humidifier. You can also gargle with myrrh like a mouthwash.

Apply one or two drops of lavender oil, specifically and exclusively from the Lavandula angustifolia species, to the back of your tongue or throat, to relieve the pain from a dry, scratchy throat. The taste isn’t overwhelming and the only side effect is fresh floral-smelling breath.

8. Spices: Cayenne, Turmeric, Ginger, and Clove

Cayenne might seem counterintuitive for a sore throat but, after the burn, it provides relief by numbing the pain. To make, add one tablespoon of cayenne pepper to a quarter cup of warm water. Mix in the cayenne completely, take a mouthful, tilt your head back, and gargle. If you can’t handle a lot of spice, this might not be the best solution.

Turmeric and ginger both have long histories as therapeutic plants. Drinking ginger juice alleviates sore throat pain. You can also make a tea with fresh ginger. Turmeric contains curcumin, which is very soothing. You can make a turmeric gargle to soothe a sore throat, just like cayenne, but without the sting.

Make a clove tea, clove calms inflammation and eases the discomfort associated with a sore throat.

9. Propolis

Research indicates that propolis offers multiple health benefits, especially for those suffering from an upper respiratory infection. If you’ve never heard of it, propolis is made of plant material, beeswax, and, well, bee saliva. It is useful against most types of harmful organisms, even the flu virus. Take it by adding 5 drops of propolis to a teaspoon of water.

10. Honey and Elderberry

Honey with elderberry is my favorite combination. Research suggests that elderberry reduces the severity of the common cold and flu symptoms and may shorten the duration of the illness. Add a little elderberry syrup to your honey and stir into your tea or simply take it by mouth. If you use fresh elderberries, make sure to cook them thoroughly; raw elderberries are not safe to eat.

How to Prevent a Sore Throat

The best strategy is to avoid catching a sore throat in the first place. Reduce your chances by washing your hands and limiting your exposure to sick people. Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke, which may irritate your throat. Strengthen your immune system by eating cruciferous vegetables and carotenoid-rich tomatoes. For more tips, check out our How to Stay Healthy During the Winter article.

There are, of course, many types of lozenges, sprays, gargles, and, recently, pain strips but be careful with OTC medicine as it may have very real side effects. Conversely, most of the remedies described in this article do not have unpleasant side effects.

8 Herbs and Supplements to Help Treat Depression

Depression isn’t just feeling sad or “blue.” It is a serious mood disorder with symptoms that range from mild to debilitating, and potentially life-threatening.

Depression is a relatively common disorder in that it affects millions of people each year. People of all ages and ethnicities experience depression, including children and adolescents.

Depression does not only impact how a person feels.

People with depression are significantly more likely to develop other medical conditions, such as a heart attack. Conversely, people with significant medical problems are more likely to experience symptoms of depression.

Symptoms of depression

The symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Being easily frustrated
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or normal activities
  • Sleep issues, whether too much sleep or insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in appetite
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Physical symptoms, including a headache and backache.

Herbs and supplements for depression

St John's wort
St John’s Wort may be prescribed for mild depression.

 

The use of complementary therapies is gaining popularity, as more people are starting to look for more natural treatments to manage their health.

This is especially true of mood disorders like depression and anxiety.

But are herbal remedies safe and effective?

Research is showing promise for some supplements in treating mild to moderate depression. These are some of the supplements that are most commonly used:

1. St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort is also known as Hypericum perforatum. It is widely used to treat mild to moderate depression and mood disorders. It has been used for hundreds of years to promote mental health, and it is currently prescribed for depression in Europe.

The effects of St. John’s Wort have been validated in clinical research. People with bipolar disorder should not take St. John’s Wort, as it can trigger mania.

2. Ginseng

Ginseng has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. This supplement is found in the gnarled root of the American or Asian ginseng plant. Siberian or Eleuthero ginseng are different plants and have different active ingredients.

This herb has been linked to helping improve mental clarity and energy and reducing the effects of stress. These properties can make ginseng particularly helpful for dealing with low energy and motivation associated with depression. Like St. John’s Wort, ginseng has been found to trigger mania in people with bipolar disorder.

3. Chamomile

A study in 2012 reviewed data about chamomile, from the Matricaria recutita plant, and its role in helping to manage depression and anxiety.

Results showed that chamomile produced greater relief from depressive symptoms than a placebo. Further studies are needed to confirm the findings.

4. Lavender

Lavender is a popular essential oil, traditionally used for relaxation and to reduce anxiety and mood disturbances.

A review of various studies in 2013 suggested that lavender may have significant potential in reducing anxiety and improving sleep. More studies are needed to confirm the results.

5. Saffron

There is some thought that saffron extract may improve depression, but more research is needed to confirm this.

6. SAM-E

SAM-E is short for S-adenosylmethionine. It is a synthetic form of a chemical that naturally occurs in the body.

More research is needed to determine the exact effect of this substance, but it is used in Europe as a prescription antidepressant. It has not been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the U.S.

7. Omega-3 fatty acids

Early research has shown that taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement may help reduce symptoms of clinical depression more effectively than a placebo. No serious side effects were reported.

Omega-3 fatty acids can also benefit the heart and the cardiovascular system.

8. 5-HTP

Also known as 5-hydroxytryptophan, this supplement may be effective in regulating and improving levels of serotonin in the brain.

Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that affects mood levels.

5-HTP is available as an over-the-counter supplement in the U.S., but it may require a prescription elsewhere.

Lavender
Studies have shown that lavender may help in reducing anxiety.

More research is needed, especially regarding a safety concern that it may be linked to a serious neurological complication.

It is important to remember that the sale of herbs and supplements is not regulated by the FDA in the same way as drugs and medications.

Supplement manufacturers do not have to prove that their product is consistent. The dose labeled on the bottle may also be inaccurate.

Herbs and supplements must be purchased from a trusted manufacturer.

The bottom line

Herbal and natural supplements may work well for some people, but they are not an adequate substitute for serious depression or in cases where suicide or self-harm is a significant risk.

A person who is taking herbal supplements must inform their physician, as there is potential for side effects and other drug interactions.

Depression is a treatable disease, but it may take some trial and error to work out which medication or supplement regimen is best for an individual.

When to see a doctor

If a person feels depressed or experiences any of these symptoms, they should seek help from their physician.

A range of medications and cognitive treatments, or “talk therapy,” can help people with depression.

A person who is thinking about suicide or self-harm should immediately seek emergency help, either with their physician or local hospital or by calling the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK).

If a loved one or friend may be at risk for committing suicide, someone should stay with that person and call for emergency help immediately.

7 Cool Things We Never Knew Lavender Could Do

ADD THIS WONDER PLANT TO YOUR FARMERS’ MARKET SHOPPING LIST.

 
Maybe you’re thinking of planting lavender because it’s a beautiful addition to any flowerbed and because bees seem to love it. But its usefulness doesn’t stop there. Here are seven ways to put it to work at home outside or in an indoor herb garden.
1. Keep Moths Away
Dried lavender is a popular natural alternative to mothballs, which contain toxic pesticides. The scientific data is a little sparse, but one study did find that lavender essential oil was an effective insecticide against a specific type of moth larvae (orgyia trigotephras, to be exact), so we say it’s worth a shot. Fill small sachets with dried lavender and keep them tucked in your closet and wardrobe. Moth problem or not, these pouches will do double duty by leaving your clothes smelling fresh and clean.
2. Make A Fragrant Wreath
In aromatherapy, lavender is used to relieve anxiety and boost mood, so keeping it around the house may help you to relax after a long day. Incorporate it into your décor by learning How To Make A Lavender Wreath that will freshen the air and add charm to any room.
3. Sanitize Hands
Lavender essential oil has antibacterial properties, making it a popular ingredient in many organic and homemade hand sanitizers. You can find lots of DIY recipes online, many of which include aloe vera gel and witch hazel in addition to lavender oil.
4. Clean Up Contaminated Soil
Several studies have found that planting lavender is an effective way to restore contaminated land, such as former mine sites, because it removes heavy metals and other pollutants from the soil. Even better, these contaminants don’t affect the quality of the lavender plant or its essential oil.
5. Make A Mean Lemonade
Lavender is the secret to ultra-refreshing, lemonade. Simply blend lavender and sugar together before mixing with water and lemon for a floral infused thirst-quencher that’s naturally pinkish-purple in color.
6. Take An Aromatherapy Bath
We’ve already mentioned lavender’s soothing effect, and the best place to take advantage of it is in the bathtub. Whip up an easy batch of rosemary-and-lavender bath salts in your stand mixer with homegrown or farmers’ market herbs for a therapeutic soak. Or add it to a homemade shampoo. Bonus: Treat your body to a rub with healing Tulsi Luminous Lavender and Pink Sea Salt Body Scrub.
7. Help You Sleep
Science confirms what people have known for centuries: The scent of lavender has a soothing, sedative affect that can help you get to sleep. Make a tea with the flowers before bed or stuff a lavender sachet inside your pillow to help you on your way to sweet dreams and kiss the melatonin pills goodbye.

Let’s Create Some Herbal Medicine – Syrups.

herbal syrupSyrups are useful for coating your throat and are helpful if you {or your children} have trouble swallowing capsules or pills. Any herbal tea can be concentrated and added to a sweet base to create a syrup. Because this process concentrates the herb’s active constituents, a syrup can be very effective at treating and healing a wide range of ailments, especially upper respiratory infections and sore throats.

After making your syrup, bottle it, label it, and store it in the refrigerator. If no preservatives are added, the syrup will probably last 2 to 3 weeks. You can add a few drops of an essential oil or vitamin C powder {1/2 to 1 level teaspoon to 1 cup of syrup} to increase its refrigerated shelf life by 1 to 2 weeks or even longer. If it’s impractical to store the syrup in the refrigerator, add the vitamin C powder and grain alcohol so that the finished product is 25 percent alcohol and 75 percent syrup. These additions are particularly helpful for keeping syrup viable and safe for consumption when you are traveling. Take 1 teaspoon two to three times daily or as needed.

Sweet Syrup Bases and Herbal Syrups:

Sweet Syrup Base: If you are using sugar for the sweet syrup base, you will want to make a simple syrup by dissolving 1 cup of sugar in 1 cup of water by simmering it for 30 to 40 minutes. Add this syrup to the strained tea. Add the vitamin C or alcohol and bottle, label, and store your finished syrup.

To create an alternate sweet syrup base using honey, you can combine 1/2 cup each of honey and barley malt, or combine 3/4 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of glycerin; either of these two additions will create a smooth consistency.

Herbal Syrups:  If you are including scented leaves and flowers such as anise hyssop, basil or tulsi, catnip, lavender, lemon balm, lemon verbena, oregano, peppermint, sage, spearmint, or thyme to make syrup, keep in mind that the plant material itself shouldn’t be boiled. These aromatic herbs contain volatile oils that will be lost when subjected to the high heat of boiling. You will want to add them to the liquid after you have finished simmering it, and steep them for 20 minutes.

If you are only using aromatic herbs, follow these guidelines for making syrup: Reduce the water from 5 cups to 1 1/2 cups and steep your herbs for 20 minutes. Strain and compost them, and then add the sweet syrup base and optional essential oils.

Basic Syrup:

Use the amounts below for each cup of finished syrup; you can double or triple the recipe.

1 – 1 1/2 cups fresh or 1/2 – 2/3 cup dried herbs

5 cups purified water

1 cup of a sweet syrup base, such as dehydrated cane juice, sugar, or honey

Essential oils {optional}

1/2 – 1 level teaspoon vitamin C powder or 1/3 cup alcohol {optional, to preserve}

Blend or process the herbs to a coarse or fine consistency. Combine the herbs with the water in a saucepan, stir, and gently simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat and let the mixture steep for 20 minutes longer. Strain and compost the herbs. Pour the liquid back into the pan. Simmer and reduce the heat, and gently simmer, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced to about 1 cup. {If you’re using sugar, add it halfway through the reducing process to make sure that it dissolves and thickens properly.} Let the mixture cool until warm, and add the sweet syrup base. Add a few drops of the optional essential oils and vitamin C powder or alcohol. Bottle, label, and store.

Garlic Syrup:

An excellent way to take garlic as an antibiotic preventative when a cold is coming on.

2 – 5 cloves of garlic

1 cup sweet syrup base

5 drops oregano essential oil {optional, for an antibacterial boost} or 2 or 3 drops peppermint or orange essential oil {for a flavor lift}

In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, sweet syrup base, and essential oil. Blend or process until creamy. Bottle, label, and store.

Cough Syrup:

This tasty syrup coats your throat, reduces irritation, and calms a persistent cough.

3 – 4 teaspoons fresh or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried echinacea leaf, flower, and/or root

1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons fresh or 3/4 teaspoon dried licorice root

2 heaping teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried marshmallow root

3 – 4 teaspoons fresh or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried orange peel

1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons fresh or 3/4 teaspoon dried sage leaf

3 – 4 teaspoons fresh or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme herb

5 cups purified water

1 cup sweet syrup base

Optional Ingredients:

2 – 3 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried wild cherry bark {Prunus serotina}

3 – 4 teaspoons fresh or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried horehound leaf {Marrubium vulgare}; this herb adds extra cough-reducing power, but also has a bitter taste}

7 drops orange essential oil

3 drops peppermint essential oil

Pinch of stevia per cup of finished liquid {optional, for sweetness}

If you are using fresh herbs, whir them in a blender, and if you are using dried, grind the herbs to a coarse or fine consistency. In a saucepan, simmer the echinacea, licorice, marshmallow, orange peel, and optional cherry bark in  the water, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the sage, thyme, and optional horehound. Steep the entire mixture for 20 minutes longer, then strain and compost the herbs. Pour the liquid back into the saucepan, return it to a boil, reduce the heat, and gently simmer, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced to about 1 cup. Let it cool until it’s warm and add the sweet syrup base and the optional essential oils. Stir well, bottle, label, and store.