Wouldn’t you love to avoid getting sick this year?
Electuaries are one of my favorite easy herbal remedies. They’re simple enough you can engage the whole family in creating them, or you can go it alone like I do and think of it as a meditation of sorts. Either way, the honey makes them sweet and delicious while the herbs make them a powerful illness-prevention tool. Elderberry Electuaries are exactly the kind of herbal medicine my family can bite off on pretty easily.
This recipe is a simple blend of Elderberry, Cinnamon, Rosehips, Lycii berries (aka Chinese Wolfberry or Goji Berry), and honey. It’s designed as a preventative measure rather than a remedy once cold or flu has taken hold. If you’re working with an active cold or flu, this recipe for Elderberry Electuaries can be altered to fit your needs as an herbal remedy, too. First, omit the Lycii berries to avoid feeding the illness rather than driving it out. Next, decide if the herbs fit the symptoms. This recipe will be particularly helpful when illness has struck if you notice a blue tinge around the eyes or to the skin in general or if there’s a lot of mucus and phlegm. If the cold or flu is of the feverish or particularly dry variety, this blend may exacerbate it rather than help. In that case, you could substitute Elder Flowers for the Elderberries and replace cinnamon with a cooling herb, like spearmint.
What’s in Elderberry Electuaries and Why?
The fruits of the Elder tree, Elderberries, are one potent herbal remedy for preventing the dreaded winter colds and flus that abound through the flu and cold season. They’ve been used since ancient times right into the modern age as a daily tonic for keeping illness at bay. Scientific research now confirms many of the properties herbalists have long subscribed to elderberry; they’re anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and they contain constituents like pectin that help the body build and rebuild tissues. Energetically speaking, elderberries are gently warming and stimulating to the body, with a particular focus on the lungs.
Cinnamon helps improve circulation with it’s warming, stimulating fire. It’s been linked to preventing and improving diabetes, weight and obesity, helping balance blood sugar levels, as well as having anti-microbial properties. In this formula, Cinnamon helps to drive away any potential invaders and keep your body’s immune system thrumming.
Rosehips provide a gentle cooling balance to the fiery nature of Cinnamon and Elderberries. They’re highly nutritive, containing a lot of vitamin C as well as Pectin and other nutrition that makes them a natural choice for helping build and rebuild tissues.
Lycii berries, also known as Chinese Wolfberries or Goji berries, are linked to liver protection as well as general nutrition. They’ve long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to support longevity by building the kidney and liver systems. Studies are now confirming that they contain chemicals that help protect the liver and offer support in building tissues and blood. All of this makes them a terrific preventative herb for strengthening the body’s defenses….but once those defenses have been breached Lycii is one of the herbs Traditional Chinese Herbalists recommend you avoid in illness. All that nutrition and support can too easily be used by the invader, aka cold or flu, to continue the invasion rather than for your body’s recovery process.
I strongly recommend using Raw, local honey if you can. Honey is designed to be both food and medicine for the bees. Studies have proven what herbalists have long known, that honey is also good medicine for humans. It has strong anti-microbial properties, some of which are destroyed by heating. The bees in your own back yard are facing the same environmental conditions, including microbial assault as well as environmental pollutants, which means that the medicine they make for themselves is likely to help folks who living near by more so than those who live in different environments or ecosystems. That’s why I prefer Raw, local honey to imported or pasteurized honey. With all that said, some honey is better than no honey. If the honey that best fits your budget or is most accessible to you comes from somewhere else, no worries! Go with what works for you and make no apologies.
Make Elderberry Electuaries: DIY Recipe
I use weight to determine my parts, but you can also use volume measurements. The weight of a teaspoon of each of these herbs is close enough to comparable to not alter the overall results too much, but do be careful as you measure your cinnamon. Cinnamon can overpower this blend, so adjust the amount you use to match your own taste as well as the constitution or needs of your family.
- 2 parts Elderberries, powdered
- 1 part Cinnamon bark, powdered
- 1/4 part Rosehips. powdered
- Approximately 1/2 part dried Lycii berries (1 berry per electuary)
- Honey to bind
- Measuring spoons, cups, or scale
- Bowl and Spoon for mixing
- Tray lined with parchment paper or a Silicone Baking Mat
- Glass jar with lid for storage
- Label and Pen
- Measure the powdered herbs into your bowl and blend them well. Be sure to break up any clumps so the blend becomes a uniform color and texture.
- Add the honey a little at a time, folding it in thoroughly until the blend becomes slightly sticky and malleable, like a sticky play dough. The key is to add just enough honey to bind the herbs but not so much as to leave them sticky and messy.
- When the mixture is workable, begin forming it into balls around each of the lycii berries. Aim for balls that resemble small marbles about 1/4 inch (6 cm) across or roughly 1/2-1/3 teaspoon (2-3 ml) of herb mix per ball.
- Set the formed balls on the lined tray. Let them stand on the tray to set and dry a little for a few hours to overnight.
Store your Elderberry Electuaries in an air-tight and labeled container, like a sealed glass jar, in the refrigerator or in a cool, dark spot in your pantry…or in a spot where you’ll remember to use them!
Enjoy 1-6 Elderberry Electuaries per day as they are or add them to hot water to turn them into tea.
Want to Learn More?
This recipe is part of my longer class entitled “Tasty Flu and Cold Prevention” I offer to groups interested in promoting health and well-being and for small Herbal-parties. If you’d like to learn more, contact me.
You can also find more good information on the ingredients used in this recipe on The Practical Herbalist or at any of the following links:
- Elder: Boundary Keeper (The Practical Herbalist’s Herbal Folio Book 4)
- Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, Second Edition (Oxidative Stress and Disease)
- Lycium barbarum Reduces Abdominal Fat and Improves Lipid Profile and Antioxidant Status in Patients with Metabolic Syndrome
- Traditional Chinese herbal extracts inducing autophagy as a novel approach in therapy of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Antibacterial and Antifungal Activities of Spices.
- Rosehip – an evidence based herbal medicine for inflammation and arthritis.
- A Review of the Antiviral Properties of Black Elder (Sambucus nigra L.) Products.
- Honey, Propolis, and Royal Jelly: A Comprehensive Review of Their Biological Actions and Health Benefits.
- The Way of Chinese Herbs
- The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs: A Contemporary Introduction and Useful Manual for the World’s Oldest Healing System
- The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine
- The Earthwise Herbal, Volume I: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants