Herbs and Recipes for the Common Cold
Crystal Miller

Winter time seems to bring with it the common cold. There are a several herbs that can help you survive this time of year. My favorites are ginger, elderberry, horehound and slippery elm. Each of these herbs has a specific purpose. I will give a quick run down of the herb and a recipe you can make to help out with your cold symptoms. Usually a cold just has to run its course but it does help to have some simple remedies at hand to make symptoms bearable and maybe even help you to get through the cold sooner.

The part of the plant that is used is the root. Ginger makes a good tea to drink when you have a cold as it helps with stuffed up noses. It is also known as a mild sedative and can help with fevers. Add a little ginger (and garlic) to your pot of chicken soup to help fight the common cold. Or make yourself up a cup of ginger tea; it is very easy to do using fresh ginger root. You can purchase ginger root in the grocery store.

Ginger Tea
Grate 2 T to 3T fresh ginger root. Add to 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cover and let this steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain and sweeten to taste with honey. If you are fighting the common cold add a slice or two of fresh lemon to the water too.

Or an alternative:
Use 1 teaspoon of ginger powder and add this to a large mug of hot boiling water. Let this steep for 5 or more minutes. Add honey to sweeten. You can add lemon juice to this tea if you would like.

The most common part of the elderberry tree that is used is the berry. The leaves and flower parts are often added to creams and ointments to be used on cuts and scratches.

The berries are very high in vitamin C and also contain vitamins A and B. Taken medicinally it can work well to boost your immune system. Syrup made from the berries is an effective remedy for sore throats, coughs and cold symptoms and can help with asthma and bronchitis.

Make Your Own Elderberry Syrup for the Cold Season
1 cup dried elderberries (you can purchase dried elderberries from
http://www.bulkherbstore.com/ or http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/ ). If you have a source of fresh elderberries you can also use about 3 cups fresh to equal the 1 cup dried
3 cups water
1 ½ cups honey
Optional, but not necessary is a tablespoon of brandy. This helps preserve the syrup.

In a large pot combine the elderberries and water. Bring this to a boil and reduce heat. Let simmer for about 1 hour, uncovered. Strain out the elderberries. You can use an old clean dishcloth to strain your berries (but it will get stained so make sure it is an old one). Add the honey and optional brandy and stir till dissolved. Store this syrup in the refrigerator in a glass canning jar or if you did not add the brandy then store in smaller bottles in the freezer. This way you can take a small bottle out as needed. When you or someone in your family shows the first symptoms of a cold or the flu begin taking spoonful two to three times daily. An adult spoonful would equal about a tablespoon and a child’s spoonful would be a teaspoon or so.

Slippery Elm
The inner bark is used in this medicinal herb. My most common use for slippery elm when you have a cold is helping with sore throats. A tea made of this herb is very soothing for a sore throat. You can purchase the herbs through a health food store or from
http://www.bulkherbstore.com/  or http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/ .

Slippery Elm Tea
Take one teaspoon of the dried herb and put it in a small sauce pan. Pour one cup water over and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover with a tight fitting lid. Let this simmer for 20 minutes. It takes this amount of time because the herb is a bark and needs the extra simmering time to extract all its helpful properties. After the simmering time is up, strain the herb out and sweeten it with honey to taste.

Horehound works well for coughs and colds and can act as an expectorant to help loosen mucous from the lungs. Horehound can also easily be made into cough drops at home.

Horehound Cough Drops
Actually this will be more like peanut brittle in shape, rather than a drop. It is made similar to making candy so you will need a candy thermometer.

To start with you need a nice strong horehound tea. Use ¾ to 1 cup of dried horehound (found at health food stores or
http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/ ) to each cup of water. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan, add the herbs and stir for a minute or so. Then cover the pan and remove from the heat. Allow this tea to sit and steep about a half hour. Then strain out the herbs using an old, clean hand towel.

While the tea is steeping get a large pan with sides on it (like a jelly roll pan) and butter this very well and set aside.

To each cup of horehound tea you have add 1 ½ cups honey and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar. Bring this to a boil again. Boil and stir and cook this until it reaches 300 degrees. This is also called the “hard crack” stage. If you don’t have a thermometer you can simply drizzle a little of the hot mixture into a cup of ice water. It should turn into what look like threads and be quite brittle.

When your mixture is at the right temperature you then pour it into the previously prepared buttered pan and carefully and quickly spread it around. As soon as it has cooled down a little use a knife to pre cut it (it won’t cut all the way through, you are basically scoring it). Let it dry until it is cool and brittle and then break it into pieces.

Use just like you would cough drops.


Any of the above herbs can also be made into tinctures. Tinctures take a couple of weeks to make so they should be done before you go into the cold and flu season. To read how a tincture is made click HERE (coming soon).



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