I love March. Not just because it’s my birth month, but because it is unique. March has two seasons, winter and spring. Unlike December, which has autumn and winter that often look the same, March has the promise of change. Cold and snowy one day and warm (50’s F) and sunny another, it is a roller coaster ride. I find myself digging through snow and old leaves looking for those first shoots of spring.
Unfortunately, with this changeable weather come coughing, sneezing, upset stomachs and fevers. Viruses seem to run through schools and offices like the bull run of Pamplona. If we believe the commercials, we can take an over-the-counter medication that masks our symptoms and get right back to work. No need to stay in bed. Is that really the right thing to do? Some folks don’t get paid if they don’t work, and I understand that, but just because your symptoms are gone doesn’t mean you aren’t contagious. Viruses tend to be that gift that keeps on giving to one person after another.
Rest really can’t be overstated. Even if you take one day to do so, sleeping is going to allow your body’s defense system to do its work. Hydration is also important. Water, and lots of it, is going to replace the fluids your body is losing in various ways. Eat lightly but eat good food. Soup is warming, comforting and easy to digest.
As an herbalist and a mom, I keep two main herbal products in my home throughout the winter and spring; elderberry syrup and thyme honey. Both are very easy to make and keep on hand. I have listed the recipes below. Elder (Sambucus nigra) is an expectorant, diaphoretic, anticatarrhal, and an immune enhancer. The dark berries can help fevers by inducing sweating. Syrup made from the berries soothes the throat and helps to reduce upper respiratory infections by loosening phlegm. The addition of local honey means that all the healing properties of honey are being added to this tasty syrup. I stock up on dried berries and local honey early in the fall so that I have them all winter long.
Thyme honey is fabulous as a tisane (herbal tea) or by itself. Thyme is antispasmodic, anticatarrhal, antimicrobial and carminative. In other words, it helps that cough reduce and gets the phlegm moving. Thyme also gets the immune system moving. Local, unprocessed honey offers many healing benefits. It soothes the throat and has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also nutrient food.
What is nice about both elderberry syrup and thyme honey is that both the young and elders can enjoy them because they taste good. However, be sure not to give honey to children under 1 year as their immune systems may not handle the bacteria that can potentially cause botulism. If your symptoms worsen or others develop, a trip to the doctor is a good idea. Remember, keeping your immune system happy and healthy is the best way to not become ill. Eat healthfully, drink water, exercise, laugh often and sleep well. All of these things will help you to greet spring with joy.
½ cup dried elderberries
3-4 cups water
1-1.5 cups honey
Place the berries and water in a pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook about 20 minutes. Strain liquid into a measuring cup (berries can go to compost) and add honey (I tend to use 1 cup, but you decide what you like). Stir while the warm liquid melts the honey. Put in a glass container with a lid and refrigerate. The syrup will last in the refrigerator about 2 months.
Dosage: adult (1-2 tablespoons), children over 1 year (1-2 teaspoons). Take as needed every 3 hours.
16 oz. of unprocessed, local honey
~2 tablespoons of organic dried thyme
Glass container with lid
Pour the honey into the container. Add the thyme and stir. Allow to sit about 2 weeks. This honey does not need to be refrigerated. Add more thyme, if needed, as you use the honey.
Dosage: 1 spoonful for an adult and ½ a spoonful for children 1 year and up.
Thyme Honey Tisane
Heat up 8 oz. of water so that it is steamy but not boiling. Place thyme honey directly in a mug or in a tea ball if you don’t want to drink thyme leaves. Pour water over honey and stir until the honey dissolves. Drink while warm. Tea should be cooled down for children. Do a heat test on your wrist. If it doesn’t hurt, it should be okay for a child.