The Best Herbal Remedies for Winter

Improve your health with bitters, elixirs, syrups and vinegars—traditional herbal remedies perfect for winter.

| November/December 2015

  • Dandelion bitters
    Dandelion bitters help with digestion by helping with bloat and relieving excess acid in the stomach.
    Photo by Fotolia/Comugnero Silvana
  • Herbs with mortar and pestle.
    Most herbal remedies can be prepared with fresh or dried herbs.
    Photo by iStock

  • Dandelion bitters
  • Herbs with mortar and pestle.

Along with the beauty of snow-glistened trees and the festivity of holiday parties, winter also brings the onset of more colds, flu, sore throats and other ailments. Stocking our homes with time-tested, tried-and-true homemade remedies (and potent preventives) is a smart solution. These winter favorites come straight from Grandma’s cupboard—from medicinal syrups and vinegars to sweet elixirs and old-fashioned bitters.

Note: Herbal medicines are used for their potential effects in the body; discuss any new remedy with your doctor to make sure it’s a good fit for you. Always consult your health-care provider when considering treatments for children younger than 2.

Recipes for Herbal Remedies

Medicinal Elderberry Syrup Recipe
Dandelion Tummy Bitters Recipe
Longevity Elixir Recipe
Healing "Four Thieves" Vinegar Recipe

Syrups

Some of the best herbal remedies for colds and sore throats are medicinal syrups. These simple remedies are a wonderful way to administer bitter-tasting medicinal herbs to reluctant children and adults alike. Sweet and delicious, syrups can be taken by the spoonful and make a lovely addition to teas, desserts and bubbly beverages.



All syrups begin with a concentrated decoction, which is then cooked down and sweetened with either sugar or honey to help preserve the mix and add flavor. This process perfectly concentrates an herb’s active constituents, making it great for treating upper respiratory infections. Syrups prepared with honey are usually preferable to syrups prepared with sugar, as honey is naturally antibacterial and effective at soothing and coating sore throats. (Don’t give honey to children younger than 2.)

If no preservatives are added to your syrup, it should last about two to three weeks. Add a few drops of vitamin C powder to increase its refrigerated shelf life by one to two weeks.



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