Honey on it's own is a powerful medicine, and has been used for over 5000 years by humans for it's different therapeutic benefits. In Ancient Egypt honey was used to treat wounds on the skin, and added to other medical potions, as well as offered to their Gods as a gift. Ayurvedic medicine has been using honey for over 4000 years, in treating body imbalances and even indigestion.
Today we know these things to be true, and have seen the effects of honey as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and vulnerary. Knowing this, it makes sense to use honey as a base for herbal medicinal infusions !
There are a couple of ways in which we can use honey for medicine; in this post I'll be discussing the main ways I like to use herbal infused honey, and giving you the basic how - to's as well.
Honey for colds, flus, and other complaints of the respiratory system:
If you have ever had a cold, which I presume you have - you've more than likely sipped on a lemon, honey and ginger tea to help soothe your soar throat. In this we are talking about other ways to use honey for times of scratchy throats. It is important to note though, that honey can have cough suppressant effects - which can be good if your cough is unproductive, dry, sore and simply irritating. If, however your cough is productive, and bringing up mucous - it is best not to suppress this, as you want to get all of the mucous out of your chest, because this contains some of the bacteria or virus that your body is fighting off. ( If you suppress any symptoms in the body, even with herbs, you will make the problem worse )
1. Cough syrup
These are very easy to make with honey, and are safe for everyone in the family to use ( Unless of course they are under 1, and or allergic to honey ).
There are quite a few different methods you can use to make a honey cough syrup, so I'm just sharing the two ways I have used so far.
First of all if you have some tinctures or fluid extracts on hand you can simply warm some honey and add in the fluid extract or tincture. With this method I generally use a ratio of 1:2 or 1:1 ( 1 part herbal tincture or FE to 2 parts honey, or equal parts of both ). However you can experiment for yourself, and depending on the original strength or your tincture will determine the strength of the syrup.
If you do not wish to make yourself a fluid extract or tincture, or don't have any on hand that suit your respiratory needs - you can do the same thing with an infusion or decoction ! Again I would use the ratio's mentioned above - however because this method is using water to extract the herbs, if using the 1:1 ratio you should keep your syrup in the fridge to preserve. The 1:2 ratio should be fine to keep in your pantry or medicinal cupboard.
So for this method you simply make yourself a tea - either by infusion or decoction ( if you don't know the difference check out this blog post ), and then again combine by warming the honey and stirring in.
Oxymel is a fancy word for another type of syrup, but instead of water or alcohol as the solvent used to extract the herbs components, you use apple cider vinegar. Alcohol is a better agent to extract the herbs constituents, so oxymels are often used with fresh garlic, or if you'd like an alcohol free cough syrup for yourself or your children.
To make an oxymel:
On a stove warm 100 ml ACV with 50 mL honey, to combine. Place your desired herbs; ( how much you use will depend on the taste you want, and wether they are fresh or dried ) for example 10 cloves of crushed garlic, into a sterile jar with a lid. Add the warm honey and ACV mix and allow to infuse for 7 - 14 days, shaking whenever you remember ( try for once a day ). At the end of this period, strain and press the mixture adding to another sterile jar.
3. Cough lozenges
These are a great way to soothe a sore throat if you have to be out and about, or if you simple prefer sucking on a lozenge rather than taking a syrup.
These are very easy and fun to make ! Simple chop up your chosen herbs, again try either a 1:2 or 1:1 ratio, and using a double boiler begin warming your honey ( the double boiler method should be used for the lozenges because you will be bring the honey to a boil ).
Add in a squeeze of lemon juice and continue stirring the honey and herbal mixture as it heats up. You will want they honey to begin bubbling, foaming and changing texture. To know when the mixture is hot enough / ready, simply pop a drop of the mixture into a glass of water. If the honey sets hard, it is ready. If it is still gooey, you will want to continue heating.
In the mean time you will want to prepare a tray lined with baking paper - you may need to spray this with cooking oil to prevent sticking.
Once your mixture is ready, work fast to strain it, and add drops onto the baking paper. Allow to cool. Once hardened, peel off your drops and pop them in a container.
Going back to that lemon, honey and ginger tea - if you'd like some all purpose honey, to add to your every day teas, simply infuse with herbs for some extra vitality ! Heres how:
Similar to the cough drop method, simply heat your honey and desired herbs ( I love using lavender for this ), but do not let it get to the point of boiling, else you will have more cough drop textured honey. Simmer for at least 15 minutes to allow your herbs to infuse, then strain and place into clean jar.
You can use this honey as I mentioned before, to add to your teas - but you can also add it to face masks ! Honey being very soothing to the skin is great for an all purpose mask, but can also help with acne due to it's antibacterial effects, as well as promote glowing skin with it's antioxidant properties, which may also help prevent wrinkles !
That's all I have for todays post, I hope you enjoyed these honey infusion methods, and if you use any yourself be sure to let me know how it goes in the comments. If you'd like to see some specific recipes for any of these methods, just let me know and I will write them up !