Taking healthcare into your own hands through DIY + folk medicine is truly a powerful thing. In a world consumed with the capitalist idea that the only good medicine is given to us at extreme costs by people in positions of power, creating a home apothecary
is a reminder that we can listen to our bodies, the plants around us, and our ancestors to take care of ourselves (in addition to working with some of the lifesaving modern medicine out there!)
It’s a radical and powerful notion that it’s ok to take things slow, to wait, taste and test, and create recipes that work for your specific body - rather than what people tell us is the only way to access healing. It’s a spell of, and for, community to be able to share herbal medicine with our friends on the frontlines of protests, a healing salve with our trans community, or a recipe for soup with our coworkers and classmates. It’s a ritual of self love to take the time to add intention and energy into a gut healing fermented sauerkraut or infused honey, and it’s a spell to our ancestors to honor their medicine.
Building an herbal apothecary can seem impossible - visions of the classic witch with shelves of herbs and spices filling her walls seems pricey, unattainable, and where did she even find half the stuff?! But, give yourself permission to start slowly. Pick one herb that is calling your name, learn how to care for it, where it grows, and try using it in one or two ways. As you grow familiar with a plant, knowing it’s allies and friends will get easier.
Fall is the perfect time to start building your home apothecary, we have the bounty of summer herbs and plants harvested and ready to be put to use. Beginning our apothecary now allows us time to integrate herbal medicine for maximum effectiveness, and be prepared for the onslaught of colds and flus in the winter season.
Below is a selection of classic home apothecary recipes, perfect for a beginner!
Elderberry + Honey Syrup (by Ashley English from her book “Home Apothecary”)
Rich in antioxidants, elderberries keep the immune system strong by boosting the production of cytokines, proteins that function as messengers that send inflammatory or anti-inflammatory responses depending on the bodies signals. Elderberries are also high in antiviral compounds, which help staunch the spread of disease.
2 cups distilled water (or water boiled, and then cooled)
½ cup dried elderberries
1 cinnamon stick
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
1 teaspoon whole clove
1 cup raw honey (local is best if you can get it!)
1 16oz bottle
Combine water, elderberries, and spices in a medium size saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until it has reduced by half. Remove from the heat, and let cool. Strain your mixture, pressing the berries to extract as much liquid as possible. Add the strained elderberry syrup and honey to your 16oz bottle, label with the name and date, and store in the refrigerator.
Infused Honey Recipe
Infused honey is a great and simple way to get a ton of great medicinal benefits. Honey is antibacterial, soothes sore throats, and can help boost your immune system. To infuse honey, all you’ll need is a jar, some local honey, and additional botanicals!
Some great combos for fall and winter are
Honey + Lemon = extra vitamin c, soothing for coughs and colds
Honey + Hot Pepper = boosts circulation and immune systems (plus so good on pizza)
Honey + Cinnamon = boosts circulation and tasty for little ones
Simply add your botanicals to a jar, cover with honey, and store in a cool dry place. To use, spoon honey into a mug, pour hot water over, and enjoy!
Immune Boosting Tea
is a great way to pack in the benefits of so many medicinal plants. Keeping this herbal tea blend on hand during cold and flu season is a great way to have an effective and easy remedy on hand when you or your loved ones start feeling ill! Taking the time to slow down and enjoy a hot cup of tea is just as good for the body as it is for the soul.
1 Part Dried Licorice - Licorice contains anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties
1 Part Dried Echinacea - A go-to herb for the cold and flu season, Echinacea has been found to have many active compounds that can help your immune system combat illness.
1 Part Dried Lemon Balm - Lemon balm has anti viral polyphenols, which can help you heal from viral infections.
½ part Dried Hibiscus - Hibiscus is high in vitamin C, and will give your tea a rich beautiful color
Mix all parts together, and store in a container with a sealed lid. To use, steep 1-2 teaspoons in hot water, add honey if you’d like, and enjoy!
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