As the weather starts to get colder we shift our focus to making winter remedies to help keep our bodies strong and healthy. One of the easiest things to make at this time of year is a herbal syrup. It’s also a useful preparation for preserving the goodness of Autumn’s herbal bounty.
Marshmallow - Althea officinalis
Marshmallow root contains high quantities of mucilage, a gelatinous substance that helps to sooth inflammation. It’s also the substance that they first made marshmallow sweets out of. To extract this we make a maceration from the freshly harvested roots (you can also used dried root) by soaking it in cold water for 8 hours or overnight. It works wonders to soothe a sore throat but also on the digestive system.
Rosehips - various including Rosa canina
Rosehips are a wonderful source of vitamin C and are a brilliant fruit to help the body defend itself from infections. You will find them growing wild in hedgerows, thickets and wasteland so they are an easy herb to forage for. Hips - also known as the accessory fruit - contain the seeds of the plant and form after the successful pollination of the flowers. They contain tannins which mean they can have a mild laxative effect when eaten. Take care with rosehips as they contain small hairs that can be very irritating to the digestive tract if ingested. Make sure you strain through fine muslin cloth to avoid this. Rosehips can be harvested when the fruits are soft. If you are foraging be mindful and only take a few hips from each plant you visit and leave plenty for others and wildlife.
Sage - Salvia officinalis
Sage is rich in antioxidants and is very effective in relieving sore throats. It’s antiseptic and astringent and can also be used for mouth ulcers, sore gums and tonsillitis. Its botanical name comes from the latin salvare which means ‘to cure’.
Thyme - Thymus vulgaris
Thyme is a great herb for the respiratory system. It is highly antiseptic making it a great remedy for sore throats and colds. It is the volatile oil - thymol - that gives thyme its anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties. Like many herbs it contains high levels of flavanoids - a type of antioxidant that helps to support the immune system.
Marhsmallow and Rosehip Syrup
10g fresh sage
10g fresh thyme
25g marshmallow root
25g ginger root
1 litre of water
about a 1kg sugar
Place the marshmallow roots in cold water and leave to infuse for 7 hours or overnight. See below for a guide on how to harvest marshmallow root.
Cut up the ginger and place into a saucepan with the rosehips and cover with water and bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Turn off the heat and add the sage and thyme to the pan and leave infuse for 20 minutes with a lid on
Add the marshmallow infusion to the pan and strain the combined mixture through muslin or a jelly bag into a measuring jug.
Add the same amount of sugar as there is liquid (ie. if you have 850ml of liquid, add 850 g of sugar).
Heat the mixture until the sugar has dissolved, simmer for a few minutes and then remove from the heat
Allow to cool and then pour into sterilised bottles.
Take a spoonful a day as a preventative remedy or 20ml three times a day when you have a cold or sore throat.