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As some of you know I am a Medicinal Herbalist and one of the organizers for The North Shore Permaculture Group. NSPG uses Meetup to schedule get-togethers and classes. Some of the members have been asking (cajoling, demanding and a little begging) me to do some herbal classes. So I caved and offered this class. To be honest I like nothing better than to talk about herbs!

When making herbal medicines you will need a kitchen and one of our members graciously offered her home. We gathered in the kitchen, she has the perfect set up to conduct a class of this type. Nothing better than spending a morning playing with herbs, talking, and hanging out with friends and like minded people. Before I even started I made the woman who’s house we used promise me to keep me on track! She agreed and did a pretty good job at it. I did fight her though, as I can talk!i

I made mention to the group that after this class you will look at your local food stores in a different light. That the food you eat is the medicine you need. Remember that old saying you are what you eat?! In this country we have a maker of poisons in charge of our food sources and food related diseases are on the rise:

  • Food Allergies
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Heart Disease
  • Obesity

It is paramount that you get the freshest, organic if possible and non-GMO foods available. The best would be to buy local and support your local farmers.

For this class we made the following:

  • Elderberry Syrup
  • Lemon Ginger Tea
  • Golden Milk
  • Master Tonic
  • Thieves Oil

The Elderberry Syrup was begun before the class started as it needed to simmer for a hour and a half before finishing. So as that was simmering I commenced by discussing the properties of the ingredients we would be using. I will not get into that in this post, but I will follow up later with each of them. It is very important to understand and know these as you should never just take something because you heard it works. Also, and I can’t stress this enough, herbs work with your body to heal itself. You must also take steps to help yourself! For instance cinnamon helps lower blood sugar, but if you are morbidly obese and you do not try to lose weight or continue to eat foods that you should not, the cinnamon is just not going to help. What I am trying to say is that herbal medicine is not like conventional medicine. You just don’t take a pill and be done.


  • Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) (Purchased at Market Basket in Seabrook, NH my grocery Store)
  • Chili Pepper, hot whole Capsicum annuum (Market Basket)
  • Cinnamon, stick & essential oil Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Attar of Herbs in Harrison, NH)
  • Cloves, powdered & essential oil Syzygium aromaticum (Market Basket, Liberty Natural)
  • Eucalyptus, essential oil Eucalyptus globulus Labill (Liberty Natural)
  • Elderberry, Black, dried berries Sambucus nigra L. (Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • Garlic, cloves Allium sativum (Market Basket)
  • Ginger, fresh Zingiber officinale (Market Basket)
  • Honey, raw local (the only honey you should use)
  • Horseradish, root Armoracia rusticana (Market Basket)
  • Lemon,fresh & essential oil Citrus limon (Market Basket)
  • Onion, fresh Allium Cepa (Market Basket)
  • Rosemary, essential oil Rosmarinus officinalis (Liberty Natural)
  • Turmeric, fresh  Curcuma caesia (Market Basket, yes believe it or not, it carries fresh turmeric root)


The recipe for Elderberry Syrup that I really like is from Wellness Mama, it is easy andHomemade-Elderberry-Syrup-Natural-Remedy-for-Colds-and-Flu delicious. Please check out her other recipes and remedies.
How to Make Elderberry Syrup for Flu Prevention
Prep time:  5 mins
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 5 mins
A simple natural remedy with a big nutritional punch.
Serves: 8+
  • ⅔ cup black elderberries
  • 3.5 cups of water
  • 2 T fresh or dried ginger root
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp cloves or clove powder
  • 1 cup raw honey (I get mine from The Farm at Eastman’s Corner, my bees are not yet ready to give honey)
  1. Pour water into medium saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves (do not add honey!)
  2. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half. At that point, remove from heat and let cool enough to be handled. Pour through a strainer into a glass jar or bowl.
  3. Discard the elderberries (or compost them!) and let the liquid cool to lukewarm. When it is no longer hot, add 1 cup of honey and stir well.
  4. When honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into a pint sized mason jar or 16 ounce glass bottle of some kind.
  5. Ta Da! You just made homemade elderberry syrup! Store in the fridge and take daily for its immune boosting properties. Some sources recommend taking only during the week and not on the weekends to boost immunity.
  6. Standard dose is ½ tsp to 1 tsp for kids and ½ Tbsp to 1 Tbsp for adults. If the flu does strike, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear.



We did not make Thieves in this session, but I had already made some and wanted the group to be introduced to this wonderful blend. Some of the members had previously heard of Thieves and knew where the name and recipe had come from.

Basically story is that during the Black Death, bubonic plague,  spice merchants would mix this blend of oils and douse cloths with it.  They would then wrap themselves with the doctored material and then they would go to the homes of the plague victims while not really a very ethical nor legal act to do, it was quite exciting to learn that they themselves did not contract this highly contagious disease.

I use Liberty Natural essential oils I find their quality is above thievespar. I do not recommend nor endorse Young Living. I also do not take eos internally as I believe that they are much to strong to do so. Remember essential oils are the highly concentrated volatile oils from the plant. When and if you research the blend, Young Living EO are all over this. The blend far outdates the company, they did not come up with this as much as they would like people to believe.

The link that I took this picture from is a Young Living Distributor. While I do not use their oils, the info from this link is accurate and a great list!

This mixture can be mixed with either carrier oils or witch hazel which I place in a spray bottle for easy use.

Ingredients: All but the carrier oil are essential oils

  • Rosemary
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lemon
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

In one cup of EVOO I mix 1/4 tsp of each of the eo’s. So this mixture would be very easy to make more or less. Mix the blend well and place in the vessels that you are going to use. I always use glass as the eo’s like to eat plastic also, just don’t use plastic. Natural remedies should be with natural substances.

Thieves is great to spray into your hands, rub them together, and then inhale deeply (you will just sigh in satisfaction). I will then wipe my hands on tissues or handkerchiefs to use when blowing my nose. I will also spray or rub the oil onto affected area, ie… throat or chest.

The next concoction we put together was my “go to” tea… one that even the Fireman will drink. On a side note, the Fireman is now the Battalion Chief as he was promoted while I was away running amok and causing unrest. This tea will make you feel better quickly and it tastes great too.


Lemon/Ginger Tea… This tea can be hot or cold. Feel free to make a big batch up and heat or not. The medicinal qualities of this does not depend on temp.


  • Lemons, fresh**
  • Ginger root, 2″ piece chopped
  • Cinnamon Stick, 2″ piece broken up
  • Honey, Local Raw 2 tsp
  • 2 cups water
    • Additional add-ins
      • Turmeric Root, 2″ piece
      • Green or White Tea
      • Herbs (for whatever ails you)

Now repeat after me… only use fresh lemon, only use fresh lemon and only use fresh lemon (the substance in the “real Lemon” bottles have no medicinal qualities to them as they have been processed out of it). For this recipe you will be initially using the juice, but save the peel as the peel and the juice have the same active constituents.

all-about-raw-honeyTo a non-reactive pan add the water, ginger and cinnamon stick and bring to a rolling boil. Once reached lower heat and simmer for 15 min. If adding Turmeric, and honestly why not, do it at the initial stage and chop it like the ginger. While this is simmering, to a cup add the honey and the juice from half of a lemon*. Remember to set the spent lemon aside. Once the 15 minutes of simmering has passed, decant the liquid into the mug with the lemon juice and honey. If the use of tea or other herbs are desired, add them to the mixture after the 15 min of simmering. Delicate herbs and teas are to be steeped (added to the hot water that does not have a heat source under it). Let these then steep. For tea (Camillia sinensis) three to six minutes for green and one to three minutes for white. Other herbs such as; yarrow, chamomile or lavender steep for 10 to 15 min.

When making an addition brew you add the spent lemon to this go around. Use fresh ginger, cinnamon and/turmeric and discard the previously used (in the very least I add them to my compost, but they could be dehydrated and or ground and added to just about anything).


* Lemons that have a rough or bumpy peel or rind has more pith. Those that have a smoother skin have more juice. Yeah you should be with me when I walk into the produce section. I basically give a class to someone there. Market Basket in Seabrook, NH should hire me! Also, to get more juice out of any citrus fruit, roll it on a hard surface while applying pressure. If you use a microwave you can heat the fruit for six minutes and then roll it.

** Lemons and Limes have the same constituents and are interchangeable medicinally wise.

Master tonic, aka Fire Cider 

To make this in a large amount I would suggest you use a food processor and since it takes about 3 to six months to effectively macerate and you should always have some of this on hand use a food processor. This preparation smells amazing while you are making it!  I always just want to eat it and have to stop myself and kick-up my self control! The smells from all of the mixtures had the husband of the house asking if we would stay and cook supper!

Since we had a good size group I asked one of the members to do some math and increase the portions to make enough for all. Yes folks you have to do math. I always say if you can do math and science you can both cook and prepare herbal remedies!

You may want to wear gloves during the preparation, especially when handling hot peppers, because it is difficult to get the tingling off your hands! Be careful, its smell is very strong, and it may stimulate the sinuses instantly.


  • 24 oz /700 ml apple cider vinegar (always use organic)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 fresh peppers, the hottest you can find (be careful with the cleaning – wear gloves!!!)
  • ¼ cup grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp grated horseradish
  • 2 tbsp turmeric powder or 2 pieces of turmeric root


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, except for the vinegar.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a Mason jar.
  3. Pour in some apple cider vinegar and fill it to the top. It is best if 2/3 of the jar consist of dry ingredients, and fill in the rest with vinegar.
  4. Close well and shake.
  5. Keep the jar in a cool and dry place for a minimum of three months. Shake well several times a day.
  6. Your master tonic is ready for use. You do not need to keep the tonic in your fridge. It will last for quite a long time, ACV has an indefinite shelf life.
  7. Once the tonic is used up, dry the solids and add them to soups, rice or anything.

Extra Tip: You can also use it in the kitchen – mix it with some olive oil and use it as a salad dressing or in your stews.


  1. Caution: The flavor is very strong and hot!
    1. Extra Tip: Eat a slice of orange, lemon or lime after you take the tonic to ease the burning sensation and heat.
  2. Gargle and swallow.
  3. Do not dilute it in water as it will reduce the effect.
  4. Take 1 tablespoon every day to strengthen the immune system and fight cold.
  5. Increase the amount every day until you reach a dose of 1 small glass per day (the size of a liquor glass).
  6. If you struggle against more serious disease or infection, take 1 tablespoon of the tonic 5-6 times a day.
  7. It is safe for pregnant women and children (use small doses!) because the ingredients are all-natural and contain no toxins.

Th last but not least and my favorite drink is Golden Milk! I love the creamy spicy taste. It is my new go to on those cold winter days (like when your town/state gets hit by a blizzard that lasts two days and dumps up to three feet of snow)


Ginger & Turmeric


Golden Milk


  • Turmeric Root, fresh chopped or grated** (powdered can be used 1/4 tsp = 2″ piece)
  • Ginger Root, fresh resh chopped or grated** (powdered can be used 1/4 tsp = 2″ piece)
  • Black Pepper, ground a pinch
  • Honey, Raw and local (always always always), 2 tsp
  • Coconut Milk* 15 oz can
  • Coconut Water

gmilkIn a  sauce pan add coconut milk, turmeric, ginger and black pepper and bring to a slight boil then simmer for 20 minutes. The liquid will turn a lovely golden color and the smell… oh the heavenly smell! I add the coconut water to thin out the mixture, but you can leave it out if you like a thicker drink. Add the honey once you decant the liquid into the mug and enjoy! It is as easy as that!


* You can use any milk animal or plant. Do not use soy, we over use it and our thyroids just can’t take it!

** If and when grating either of the roots/rhizomes no need to peel, just wash them and grate away!

I use a small crock that came with my seven quart crock-pot to make this and have it gentle heating away.