Monday, January 24, 2011

Kitchen Remedies

EDIT 10.09.12: As a strong medicinal herb, comfrey has been the subject of much recent controversy, centered on its actions on the liver. James Green, author of The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook, suggests that comfrey root not be taken internally by young children, pregnant women, or people with manifest liver disease. While comfrey has a long history of being helpful with coughs, I am no longer including comfrey root in my cough syrup preparations. I encourage you to conduct your own research on this issue.

Coping with a cold or sinus infection on top of multiple food allergies can be a real challenge - most children's cough syrups we've encountered contain at least one of Archer's allergens/intolerances (usually corn syrup and/or red food coloring). And stuff that comes in capsule or pill form frequently contains corn starch (often listed as "modified food starch") as a filler. Commercial cough syrups without corn syrup can be very helpful in the short-term, but at $8-10 per 10 oz. bottle, if you need to take cough syrup for more than a day or two, it can get pricey.

Following are a few simple recipes that we have used for years to feel better fast. The recipes for Tess' Garlic Syrup & Tess' Cough Syrup both came from my dear friend Tess Fox, who shared them with me. Tess is not only trained in reflexology, herbalism, and energy work, she's also an accomplished bellydancer, who leads and teaches Troupe O-Wa here in Olympia.

Disclaimer: this information is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness, and you are STRONGLY encouraged to rely on the advice of your personal medical professional.

You are ALSO STRONGLY encouraged to use your best judgement and common sense. Essential oils and herbs can be quite effective, however you should NOT deviate from the recipe measurements given OR the dosage of a particular remedy. (e.g. don't "double" or "triple" the measurement or dose of something, just because it's made with herbs or essential oils - I encourage you to approach these remedies with the same amount of diligent caution as you would any conventional cold remedy.)

Raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, a tablespoon in a cup of water, 2-3 times a day, is a terrific immune system booster anytime you're feeling like you're starting to pick up a bug. It's so diluted in the water that it's not really that bad to chug down.

I make a blend of essential oils for sinus infections; we've been using this blend for a few years now, and I find it's much more effective for treating these buggers than antibiotics. The essential oils have antibiotic/antiviral properties and work really well. I put this blend together based on information from the Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Worwood.

Here's the recipe:
9 parts tea tree essential oil
9 parts lavender essential oil
6 parts eucalyptus essential oil
6 parts peppermint essential oil
15 parts rose geranium essential oil

I use disposable pipettes to measure the essential oils, using a different pipette for each essential oil. I usually measure in milliliters; a 2 ounce bottle is plenty big to hold a batch of this blend, as measured in mls. Make sure the bottle is colored glass - essential oils are light-sensitive. If the bottle does not have a dropper lid, an orifice-reducer is very helpful when it comes to dispensing the blend, one drop at a time.

To use: Use no more than 3 drops in a bowl of steaming water for one minute (I usually count 10 inhalations). Cover your head with a towel to keep the steam on your face. Steam your head 2-4 times a day. You do not want to overdose on this stuff - it'll do a serious number on your sinuses.

Make sure your e.o.'s are from a reputable source. My favorite supplier of essential oils is Essential Oil University, but I also like to order from Liberty Natural. EDIT: 3.5.13: Alas! Essential Oil University is no longer - my new favorite supplier of essential oils is Eden Botanicals.

Tess' cough syrup: (herbs are dried, not powdered)
1 ounce marshmallow root
1 ounce comfrey root (EDIT 10.09.12 - see notes at top of post)
1 ounce thyme
1/2 ounce licorice
1/4 ounce cinnamon bark
1/2 ounce hops
1/2 ounce catnip
1/6 ounce dried ginger

Put all ingredients into glass or enamel pot. Top with one quart of distilled water. Simmer down to one pint (reduce by 1/2). You can measure the depth with a chopstick. (Of course, you have to remember to do this when you first put it on the stove, LOL) Strain liquid and put liquid into a pan. Add 2 pounds of honey and simmer for five minutes. If scum forms, skim scum off surface.
Store in glass jar in the refrigerator. Take one tablespoon every 2-3 hours.

Tess’ garlic syrup – good for sore throat, cough, heart, high blood pressure, nervous disorders, colds, viral things
wide-mouth gallon jar
1 lb. peeled minced garlic
1 quart apple cider vinegar
1 quart distilled water
1 cup vegetable glycerine
1 cup honey

Combine garlic, apple cider vinegar and distilled water in wide-mouth gallon jar. Cover and let stand in warm place for 4-7 days – shake a few times each day. At the end of that time, add one cup of glycerine and let it stand for another day. Strain and filter mixture through a muslin or linen cloth, giving a good squeeze. Add one cup of honey, stir until thoroughly mixed – store in cool cupboard, not fridge. Shake well before dispensing. Take 1 tbsp. 3 x daily with/after meals.

My mom shared the following recipe with me, as the majority of commercial electrolyte drinks contain ingredients that Archer can’t ingest.

Citrus Sports Drink (electrolyte drink)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ cup boiling water
½ cup fresh orange juice, preferably pulp-free
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
7 cups cold water, preferably filtered

  1. In a glass pitcher or jug, combine sugar and salt. Pour in boiling water; stir to dissolve sugar and salt.
  2. Add orange juice, lemon juice, and cold water; stir to mix. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 week. Stir before serving. Makes 8 (one-cup) servings.
For a lime version, omit orange juice, increase lemon juice by 2 tablespoons, and add 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice.

Chris’ edits:
I used a combination of lemon, lime, and tangerine juices – figuring ¾ cup of citrus juice per recipe. I juiced everything I had, and wound up with about 6 cups of juice. This is enough to make 8 batches of the drink. I’m going to mix the sugar, salt, boiling water, and juice, then divide it into canning jars and freeze it, one batch of concentrate per jar. Then all I need to do is take a jar out of the freezer, add 7 cups of cold water, and viola! electrolyte drink. Here are the measurements if you want to do the same:

2-2/3 cups granulated sugar
4 tsp. salt
4 cups boiling water
6 cups citrus juice

Combine per above directions, omitting the 7 cups of water. Divide evenly among 8 freezer jars, and freeze.

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