Simple and Effective Medicine
Are you prepared for your next cold? Do you want to make your own herbal medicine but feel overwhelmed at finding the ingredients or preparing the medicine yourself? Don’t wait until the next time you aren’t feeling well to try an herbal remedy! There are simple yet powerful medicines you can make easily at home with common kitchen ingredients. And I can tell you from experience, they work remarkably well.
Start now with this easy, yet incredibly effective honey vinegar cough medicine.
When gardening, homesteading, and using herbal medicines, good planning is important. Last year my family I and suffered repeated bouts of respiratory illness, made worse I’m sure by the cold, damp, and mold-infested home we were renting. I ended up with an unshakable bout of chronic bronchitis.
This year I planned ahead for the cold and flu season, starting with growing many of the healing perennial herbs used in my recipes. In October, I shared my recipe for making your own simple and delicious cold and flu medicine using the collective power of sage, ginger, garlic, and raw honey.
My husband and I both used this medicine with remarkable results. I eliminated one cold as it started, and shortened another to just three days. My friends at work even commented on my quick recovery.
Usually, I suffer from a lingering cough after a cold, but this time I started taking an oxymel – a blend of honey, herbs, and vinegar (it was tasty with a kick!), and my cough was gone in a week.
I made the oxymel early in the fall, using fresh herbs from my garden. But you can make yourself a batch right now with fresh, dried, or a combination. First I will describe the medicine, and then provide the recipe. Check out the PDF file if you want to save or print.
If you are serious about adding plant medicines into your life, this simple oxymel recipe and the cold and flu herbal honey are incredibly easy to make, and they really work!
Oxymel is a Latin word meaning “acid and honey” which describes the practice of combining herbs with vinegar and honey. Vinegar helps to concentrate and direct the herb’s medicine to the respiratory tract, and honey is an excellent antimicrobial and soothing for coughs and sore throats. Oxymels are a tasty way to take your medicine!
Most often oxymels are taken by the spoonful, but are excellent combined with sparkling mineral water or seltzer water, added to a salad, smoothie, or stirred into a warm tea.
There are several different methods for making oxymels, depending on the type of herb you plan to use. The simplest method, and the one I use, is to simply combine the herbs with vinegar and honey, and allow the plant medicinal properties to infuse. This is the best method for aromatic herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, and those in the mint family, as it preserves the aromatic oils.
I combined three herbs that have been traditionally used in the treatment of upper respiratory illnesses. I used fresh herbs from my garden, but you can use fresh, dried, or a combination of fresh and dried.
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Hyssop has been shown to have antiviral properties, excellent for relieving symptoms associated with cold and flu season. Hyssop has a warm spicy energy, and has a long history of use as remedy for treating upper respiratory symptoms.
Hyssop has a pungent flavor, said to be similar to camphor. I don’t care for the strong flavor, so I combined my hyssop with the aromatic sage and thyme, both of which have medicinal properties to complement the hyssop.
Sage (Salvia officinallis)
Sage is my favorite kitchen medicine! Sage is a plant used as food and many kinds of medicine for thousands of years. For colds and flu, research demonstrates antiviral and antibacterial properties – killing the virus and bacteria responsible for our respiratory infections. Sage relieves our cough and sore throats, and because sage has astringent properties, it’s excellent for treating drippy sinus. *Should not be used medicinally when pregnant or breast-feeding.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Thyme is another mint family (Lamiaceae) herb known for its antimicrobial properties. It helps to relieve fevers and sore throats, and has expectorant qualities, helpful in relieving coughs. In fact, thyme has a long history of treating coughs. Dioscorides, an ancient Greek physician and pharmacologist, wrote of the healing benefits of thyme in his Materia Medica, a text that was widely read for nearly 1,500 years. Clinical studies are indicating the benefits of thyme (dried or extract) in treating bronchitis.
Thyme has a hot, dry energy, and a wonderful aroma and flavor. (It’s another one of my favorite kitchen herbs.)
Click Here to save or print recipe
Honey Vinegar Cough Medicine
In my garden I grow Anise Hyssop, Agastache foeniculum. This is not the same as Hyssopus officinalis, but they are both from the Lamiaceae (mint) family and have similar medicinal properties.
To make this recipe you’ll need…
- Hyssop (fresh or dried) Buy Dried Hyssop Here
- Sage (fresh or dried)
- Thyme (fresh or dried)
- Good quality honey (raw is best)
- Apple cider vinegar
- Jar with a plastic lid (If you use a metal lid, place waxed paper to prevent the vinegar from eroding the metal)
To make your oxymel, you want a good ratio of herbs to vinegar and honey. The easiest way to do this is to fill your jar 1/3 with the herbs and add equal parts honey and vinegar to fill the jar. Label and place lid. Although you can begin using the medicine within a day or two, it’s best after it sits, preferably a week or more.
When you are ready to use, strain the herbs and take by the teaspoonful. If dealing with an acute issue it is generally better to take smaller amounts more often, rather than larger doses only a few times a day. For my congested cough I took this oxymel 2 teaspoons every 2 hours for the first few days. Once my cough improved, I took 2 teaspoons three times a day until my cough was resolved (about three days.)
Oxymels will keep for a long time.
Mountain Rose Herbs has an excellent explanation of the history and uses for Oxymel medicines, as well as suggestions for different methods depending on the types of herbs being used. The article can be found here: http://mountainroseblog.com/herbal-oxymels-methods/
Herbalist Rosalee de la Foret offers an explanation of the different methods for oxymel preparation as well as a neat recipe for making a tasty and healing respiratory oxymel using evergreen needles. Her article can be found at her blog Methow Valley Herbs.
And if you want to learn more about making and using herbal medicine for you and your family, I highly recommend The Herbal Academy online courses. Last year I thoroughly enjoyed their Intermediate Herbalist Course. They offer all levels of classes, from beginner to advanced, and their coursework includes plenty of recipes!
In good health,
This post was originally shared January 2016 and has been updated. This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Seeking Joyful Simplicity. ~Michelle