At this time of the year, it is essential to prepare our body for the coming of the winter cold and flu season. This primarily involves strengthening our immune system and increasing our body’s capacity to prevent and fight off infections. Doing so will maximise our chances of progressing through winter in the absence of the typical colds, throat infections, sinusitis, coughs and lung infections that are so typical at this time of the year.
One of our absolute favourite approaches for doing so is via the use of herbal infused honey. As we overview in our Online Diploma is Herbal Medicine, herbal honey is incredibly quick and easy to make, tastes amazing and packs a powerful immune boosting and infection fighting punch.
Before we look at how to make herbal infused honey, lets looks at the herbs we will be using:
1. Echinacea: A famous immune tonic herb that has been shown to powerfully stimulate the immune system. It is also a powerful herbal anti-biotic and anti-viral that is indicated in the prevention and management of all bacterial and viral infections. It has a particular affinity for the respiratory tract, making it ideal to prevent and treat colds, flu, sinusitis, bronchitis, sore throats, chest infections, glandular fever, coughs and whooping cough.
2. Elderflower: The immune stimulating properties of the Elder tree are profound. They are proven to stimulate immune activity whilst having strong anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties that help to prevent and fight off infections. It is an ideal herb to use in the management of weakened immunity, cyclical colds and infections, to prevent infections at the first sign of symptoms and whenever there is a sense of being generally run down. A fantastic tonic herb to ward off winter infections.
3. Sage: Sage has incredibly strong anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties which are helpful in the management of a wide variety of infections, particularly those occurring in the respiratory tract; use to prevent and manage colds, flu, sinusitis, tonsillitis, bronchitis, ear infections and chest infections. Its also has strong expectorant and decongestant properties which help to clear mucous congestion and catarrh.
What is Herbal Infused Honey and How Does it Work?
Herbal infused honey provides a truly excellent medium for delivering herbal medicines as it combines the healing properties of herbs with the powerful healing benefits that are inherent within raw, organic honey. Herbal infused honey works, mechanistically, because honey is hydroscopic. This means that it is able to absorb the water-soluble medicinal properties of the herbs placed into it; as such, the honey becomes as medicinally active as the herbs it contains. This makes it the perfect “carrier” to deliver powerful immune stimulating herbal compounds into the body.
In addition to the healing properties of the herbs themselves, honey is a true superfood; it is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and fatty acid whilst having proven muscous clearing and anti-bacterial properties.
With its powerful immune-stimulating benefits, herbal infused honey is our number one turn to herbal tonic for preventing nasty respiratory infections over the coming winter. Once made, it needs to macerate for around 3-4 weeks, so if you make it now it will be ready for the onset of the winter cold and flu season.
How to Make Herbal Infused Honey
To make herbal honey, you firstly need to sterilize a good-sized jar (ideally a kilner jar with an airtight seal or a large jam jar) to ensure there are no microbes in the jar that will ruin the honey. To do this, clean the jar in boiling water and then place in a warm oven to dry and further sterilize the jar (ensure the oven is not hot enough to crack the jar).
Once the jar is dry and sterilised, get your dried Echinacea, Elderflowers and Sage and give them a gentle bruising so that they release more of their healing properties. Combine all the herbs in a separate container so that they are thoroughly mixed together and then fill 1/3 of the sterilized jar up with the combined dried herbs. Then pour over raw (unprocessed and non-heat treated) honey all the way to the top of the jar. Give the mix a real thorough stir to remove all the air bubbles. You will find that the level of the honey drops so you may need to add some more in. Then seal the jar with an air-tight lid and leave to infuse in a cool dark place for 3-4 weeks. Then strain out the honey via a sieve into a clean, sterile jar, label and date. It will keep for 12-months if kept in a cool, dark place. Alternatively, you can leave the herbs in; this is amazing spread on hot toast!
Please note: We recommend always making honey with 100% dried herbs. It is important to remember that if you choose to make a herbal honey with fresh herbs, you will need to keep the herbs fully covered with honey. If the herbs have access to air they may spoil your honey because the water inside the herbs can cause them to rot. When the herbs stay covered with honey, the honey helps to preserve the herbs. If the honey smells putrid or there are spores or mould growth in the jar, please discard the honey. It is also important that you do not give honey to children under 12-months of age due to the risk of botulinus.
Dosage: 1-2 tsps of honey every day to keep your immune system in tip-top condition or 1 tsp every 2-hours to help clear out an infection should one develop, either taken off the spoon or added to hot water to make a tea.
If you would like to learn more about how to use and make herbal medicines to keep yourself, your family or your patients fit, strong and healthy, check out our fully accredited Online Diploma in Herbal Medicine here.