Monday, September 28, 2015

GETTING READY FOR FLU SEASON WITH ELDERBERRY SYRUP

After learning I have an autoimmune disease and finding that I really struggle to overcome even the most basic illness I've decided to be proactive about maintaining wellness this year.  I've always done a few things to prepare our family for flu season, like making an elderberry tincture and keeping a natural version of antibacterial hand spray on hand for each person in the house but I've been warned by my ND and GP after my two trips to urgent care this past year that I need to be extra cautious about getting sick. So, how does someone NOT get sick? Well, I know it isn't completely avoidable but I'm going to try my best and if I can't keep myself from getting sick I can at least have something on hand to lessen the duration of an illness (time I have to suffer) and to help do this I made an Elderberry syrup.

Elderberry is known for its ability to lessen the duration of the flu, it is also good for alleviating the symptoms of a cold.

If you are interested in making your own syrup for this coming winter, here is how you do it; 

1/2 cup elderberries (dried) - sambucus nigra or sambucus nigra sbsp. canadensis
3 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks (broken up)
1 pinch of ground clove
1 pinch of dried ginger 
1/2 cup raw honey

I normally use fresh elderberries but our favorite spots to find the plant have now been destroyed by development :(  We do grow our own but the deer don't share so… this year I purchased elderberries from Mountain Rose Herbs.  They also have a great video on making elderberry syrup if you prefer to follow that.  You do not have to use cinnamon, clove and/or ginger but I think it makes the syrup taste 1000x's better and they contain beneficial properties that aid in relieving various ailments. 

Make sure you use RAW HONEY, preferably local and organic.  There is a significant difference between raw honey and processed honey.  The antimicrobial and antibacterial enzymes found in honey are destroyed when honey is heated beyond a certain degree which is why the processed honey you usually find in grocery stores is not what you want to be consuming.  When people tout the benefits of honey they aren't referring to your grocery store variety, they are talking about the honey straight from the hive.  If you just want honey to use as a sweetener than go ahead and buy the processed version but if you are looking to benefit from honeys healing properties you'll want to buy RAW - ORGANIC - LOCAL
This also means you need to keep in mind that honey should never be heated above 95 degrees F. It's the heat that degrades honey.  In this recipe you'll probably want to have a thermometer on hand to make sure your liquid is at or below 95 F before you add your honey.


Measure out the water and place it in a sauce pan, then add your berries, broken up pieces of cinnamon, a pinch of cloves and a pinch of ginger. 


Bring to a boil and then cover and lower heat to a simmer for 40 minutes.  Make sure to stir the contents every 10 minutes as it simmers (to prevent sticking to the bottom of pan).


After 40 minutes remove from heat and strain.  I did this by covering a jar with cheese cloth because I couldn't find my strainer.  The joys of a disorganized kitchen.


After boiling I was left with 1 1/2 cups of liquid so to make sure the syrup wasn't too sweet or too bland I put in 1/2 cup of raw honey, stirred til it was completely dissolved and the taste was perfect!! (remember: do not add honey until temp of liquid is below 95 F). Pour into a glass jar for storage in the fridge.



Make sure you write the date on the top of your jar since you are going to want to discard any unused syrup after about 3 months.


This recipe makes a liquid syrup that is not the consistency of the syrup most people are use to.  It will not resemble maple syrup or have the thickness of Robitussin.  This is a watery syrup.  Make sure you refrigerate the finished product or it will go bad quickly.  This recipe does not contain a natural preservative, if you want to extend the shelf life of your recipe you'll need to add an alcohol like vodka or brandy.  Natural Fertility and Wellness has a great recipe with brandy included.



You can take this syrup as a preventative at a dose of 1 tsp a day to boost immunity otherwise if ill take 1 tsp 2x's daily. 

**Although a lot of research has been done on elderberry the verdict is still out on whether it is safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding, same goes for if you are on other medication or have any health problems so it is best to speak to your health care provider before using. 



Thursday, September 17, 2015

SHORT REVIEW ON MAD OILS

I placed my first order from Mad Oils recently; love the fast shipping, the personal touch "thank you" gift with FO sample and the quality of their essential oils and micas.  Unfortunately, after using their Lemon Cupcake mica my cp soap ended up looking a little orange instead of yellow :(  Their website says it isn't unusual to end up with orange the first 24 hours but it has been 2 weeks and it is still more orange than yellow.  Their micas do mix up nice and smooth in the raw soap though, better than other suppliers I have used.  I'll try using the yellow again in another recipe, this time with a different essential oil, and see how it turns out.

As for their Grape Nehi mica, that came out perfectly.  A perfect purple that lasts.  Also, their lavender essential oil has the truest and best scent of all those I have used from soap suppliers.

Mad Oils is definitely on my list of go-to shops for soap supplies.