Herbal Household Remedies: Cinnamon

Cinnamomum zylanicum is a common spice during the colder time of year, especially used in cozy warm beverages and baked goods or puddings.  But cinnamon is more than just tasty.

As the Latin name indicates, true cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) is a native of Ceylon, which was renamed Sri Lanka in 1972.  The ‘other’ kind of cinnamon, also known as Cassia or Chinese cinnamon, is spicier and better for meats and curries, while true cinnamon is milder and better for sweet dishes, cakes and the like.

The benefits of either cinnamon lie primarily in its ability to kill germs on contact, making it an excellent mouth wash, cold and flu fighter, and yeast / fungal infections reducer.  Even if you are not suffering from any of these currently, using cinnamon frequently in your food preparation can be a preventative measure.

Mouth Wash

Adding half a teaspoon of cinnamon tincture to half a tumbler of water makes an excellent antiseptic mouth wash.  To make a cinnamon tincture, combine 10.5 Tbsp of powdered cinnamon with 1.25 cups of vodka.  Add enough water to make a 50% alcohol solution.  Fill into a bottle or mason jar and let set for two weeks, shaking it once in the morning and once in the evening.  Strain and pour into a bottle suitable for storage.  The tincture will last for a long time.

Fighting Common Cold and Flu (for adults)

To break up fever and congestion that are common with the flu and the common cold, try this drink (not for children, however, as it contains alcohol):

Combine 2 cups of water with a small cinnamon stick and a few cloves in a small sauce pan.  Bring to a slow boil, for about 3 minutes.  Take off the heat, add 2 tsp lemon juice, 1.5 Tbsp dark honey or blackstrap molasses, and 2 Tbsp of whiskey.  Stir well, cover and let steep for about 20 minutes.  Drink half a cup at a time every 3 to 4 hours.

Reducing Yeast and Fungal Infections

Cinnamon solution can be used to help clear up athlete’s foot, and help reduce Candida albicans.  To make a cinnamon solution, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.  Add 8 – 10 broken cinnamon sticks.  Reduce heat to low setting and let simmer for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let steep, covered, for about 45 minutes.  Strain and use while still lukewarm for either problem, as a foot bath or douche.

2 kinds of cinnamon

 

Disclaimer: The author is not an medical professional, nutritionist, or dietitian. Content on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for legal or medical advice, or medical treatment or diagnosis. Consult your health care provider if you are experiencing any symptoms and before using any herbal product or beginning a new health regimen. When wildcrafting or foraging for plants, do so ethically; be accompanied by an expert; and always have absolute certainty of plant identification before using or consuming any herbs. By using any or all of this information, you do so at your own risk. Any application of the material provided is at the reader’s discretion and is his or her sole responsibility.

Herbal Household Remedies: DIY

Did you know that doing more things for yourself and relying less on others is a wonderfully strengthening experience?  Try it one of these days.

There is a German saying that goes: “Wer sich auf andere verlässt. der ist verlassen.”  It means that those who rely on others will be let down, with a pun on “verlassen”, which translates ‘relying on’ as well as ‘being let down’, depending on the context.

When it comes to health, yours and that of your family, there are many things you can and should do for yourself rather than relying on others to do them for you.  Taking care of your health is indeed your own responsibility in the first place, and Do-It-Yourself plays a big role in it.

First of all, cook for yourself and your family.  Don’t trust restaurants or food chains to provide you with healthy, nourishing foods.  You are better off cooking yourself with as many fresh ingredients and as few processed products as you can.  If you are inexperienced, great: Here is an opportunity to learn an art that is rewarding!  If you need help, no problem: The cookbook market is excessively large, and if you prefer to watch people cooking so you can imitate them, you can find endless cooking shows online.

Next, consider your physical condition.  It is up to you to get enough fresh air and exercise, and no gym membership is going to provide this for you.  Go outside.  Ride a bike.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Move.  You do not have to join a club, and usually you don’t even have to set aside a certain time for exercise.  Just go about your daily life choosing to move instead of sitting as often as you can.  Stretch!  And if you want to set aside a few minutes every day for particular exercises, there is plenty of material out there, in print and online.  You could visit the local library and have a look at their book selection dedicated to fitness, or look around online for a program that suits your needs and inclination.

Then, consider the things you need when you are sick, and if at all possible, consider them before you get sick.  Around this time of year, it helps to have a few things in the house that will alleviate cold and flu symptoms, like onions and honey, and good sources for vitamin C like elderberry syrup, citrus fruits, a handy pine or fir outside the door, frozen or dried rose buds and the like.  Inhaling warm steam is another thing that can alleviate cold symptoms and help get rid of mucus in our sinuses.  All it takes is a bowl of hot water and a towel and you are ready to go.

The same counts for other common illnesses.  If you think ahead a little bit, organize your medical supplies and stock up on things you might need, you will be prepared in times of need and don’t have to rely on others for help.  If you feel sadly uninformed about health matters, make it a priority to learn about them.  Again, in this day and age, it is ridiculously easy to learn new things because everyone and their uncle are falling all over themselves to teach you, for free!  Look online, go to the library: There is a tremendous amount of wonderful material out there waiting for you to pick up and read.

And last but not least (indeed, this is the most important item on the list), you should consider that you are not just a material being.  You need spiritual nourishment.  Your mind needs exercise, fresh mental air, good healthy brain-food, and coping mechanisms that help you find and keep your balance in an increasingly imbalanced world.  Health and joy, strength and resilience come from within first and foremost.  Play an instrument.  Memorize a poem, or a psalm.  Draw a picture.  Knit a shawl, or crochet a pot holder.  Watch the sunrise, or watch the stars.  Pray.  Sing!

Did you know that doing more things for yourself and relying less on others is a wonderfully strengthening experience?  Try it one of these days.

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Herbal Household Remedies: Pine Needle Tea

Vitamin C is on the top of the list of vitamins that help you fight off colds, and pine needle tea is a wonderful provider of Vitamins A and C. 

We’ve been mentioning the flu off and on, for good reason: ‘Tis the season!  For extra Vitamin C, try pine needle tea.  (Hey, that almost rhymes!)

In our area, Pinus strobus, otherwise known as (eastern or northern) white pine, soft pine or Weymouth pine (in Great Britain), is native, and its tea has more Vitamin C that citrus fruit, in fact, up to five times as much as a lemon.  It also has a lot of Vitamin A.

People have made use of pine trees in many ways since antiquity, using its wood, tar, seeds and needles for various purposes.  Among the medicinal uses, the bark of Pinus strobus was and is used in cough treatments, and pine oil can be added to hot water and inhaled when treating nasal catarrh.  The easiest use, however, is probably pine needle tea.

Naturally, you can purchase dried pine needles for tea, imported from China, or dried Douglas fir tips from the Pacific Northwest, but you can also brew some from your own pine or fir needles.  If you have a pine of fir in your yard (please read the warning at the end of the article), there is no need to harvest, dry and store the needles in larger quantities if you don’t want to make a business out of it:  It is actually best to brew the tea from fresh needles.  Choose needles that are young, that is, vibrant or darker green and more flexible than the grayish older needles.  Wash them and put them in a mug as they are, no cutting needed, pour boiling water over them and let the tea steep for about 5 minutes.  How many needles you use per cup depends primarily on your personal taste, so try it out and see what works best for you.  Lift the needles out of the mug with a fork.  Add a few drops of lemon or honey for additional flavor, if you wish.  Enjoy!

Warning: Most pine trees are safe to make pine needle tea, but there are some varieties that are poisonous, like Yew (Taxus), Norfolk Island Pine (Araucana heterophylla) and Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa).  It makes sense, therefore, to check the variety carefully before picking needles.

Also, while you can drink pine needle tea as often as every day, don’t overdo it.  With vitamins as with most everything else, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing.

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Hot Lemonade

This is yummy!

This recipe I made up will do you good in flu season.

 

Ingredients

  • 1tbl lemon juice
  • 16 oz hot water
  • honey to taste

 

Directions

Pour juice and water into a mug. Add honey to taste and enjoy as hot as you can!

 

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Herbal Household Remedies: Rose Hip

Did you know that rose hip is richer in Vitamin C than oranges?

If you have roses in a sunny spot in your yard, even the rather invasive Rosa multiflora, you surely have rose hip on them this time of year.  When they have reached their mature color, and possibly right after the first frost of the year is the right time to harvest them, if you haven’t deadheaded your roses.

Good medicine, good food

A rose hip forms below the flower and ripens to a shiny, hard, round or elongated red or orange seed container, with the remains of the flower persisting on the end opposite the stem.  Hips can be very different in size, anything from 1/4 inch or less across to about an inch across.

Rose hips are full of seeds and pulp, the latter being used for food and medicine.  They contain twenty times as much vitamin C as an orange of the same volume!  With the season for colds, coughs and the flu coming up, the rose hips from your yard can help keep your immune system strong, probably better than the sugary gummies from the drug store that promise to do the same.

Besides, rose hip has been used to treat digestive disorders.  When I was a child, Mother made us rose hip tea when we had stomach issues.

Here’s how you harvest and process rose hip:

Gathering rose hips for food
Rose hips are ready to pick as soon as they have their mature color.  They become sweeter when light frosts convert some of the starches to sugar, but don’t let them freeze solid and then thaw and soften as it will make them bitter.  Avoid rose hips that grow next to busy streets or that have been sprayed with chemicals.

Processing rose hips
You can stew, dry or freeze rose hips:

As soon as possible after picking them, wash the hips and cut off the stems and blossoms.   The precious vitamin C will get lost if you don’t process the while they are fresh.

Then either cook them, covered, in a nonreactive (that is, not aluminum) pot over low heat, or freeze fresh hips in plastic bags after washing them and cutting off the ends.

To extract the juice of rose hips for use in jams and jellies, simmer the washed and cleaned hips in water to cover for 15 minutes. Steep, covered, for 24 hours, then strain and use the strained juice immediately or freeze it for as long as a year.

To dry rose hips, wash and clean large hips, cut them in half, remove the seeds and spread the not seedless hips on trays.  Dry in an oven or dehydrator set at 110°F until the hips are hard and brittle.  Small hips can be dried whole or sliced but without removing the seeds.

When ready to use, cover hips with water and simmer until soft, then strain out any seeds and use the pulp to make jam or jelly.

rosehip

Here is a list of rose hip recipes from Mother Earth Living, where we found the above information online, which was adapted from Carla Emery’s The Encyclopedia of Country Living, which is a great resource for any number of things.

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