Since the beginning of November I have been taking an Herbal Education and Training Program (HEAT Program) at Farmacy Herbs in Providence, Rhode Island. Farmacy Herbs is an amazing herb shop/community health center that stocks a huge array of medicinal herbs and spices, hosts a variety of health and herbalism workshops, and has other events like foraging plant walks. Right now I am taking the Level 1 HEAT Program where we gain an overview of herbalism that includes learning the actions of different herbs, practicing methods of extracting herbal constituents, and studying diet and herbalism work together in nutritional healing.
Each week we have homework, which always includes an in depth study of two different herbs, and sometimes includes a project based assignment- like making a tincture, salve, or syrup. This weeks homework assignment…syrup! And I’m not talking about your everyday pancake syrup (though many herbal syrups would be quite tasty on pancakes!). A basic syrup consists of part honey, part herbal decoction (simmering herbs on low heat to draw out beneficial constituents), and may include a small amount of alcohol or tincture for preservation.
I decided to make an immune boosting syrup with Echinacea root, Cat’s claw, Pau d’arco, and ginger root. All of these herbs have immune boosting properties and many enhance the action of white blood cells. Pau d’Arco and Cat’s claw are specifically useful in treating viral infections (Pau d’arco is good for all kinds of infections). They all contain constituents beneficial for digestion as well. [Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 2006]
To make my syrup, I simmered 2 ounces of the dried herbal mixture in 4 cups of water for about 20 minutes. Then let sit another 30 minutes. The herbs then get strained out so that only the liquid remains (you can use a strainer or cheese cloth). I then added 2/3 cup of honey to the liquid mixture. Shake it up in a jar and you’ve got a syrup! At this point a little bit of alcohol or a tincture can be added to preserve the syrup, otherwise it will store for a few weeks in the fridge (the honey acts as a preservative so more honey lengthens this time).
Syrups can be taken with a spoon, stirred into tea, or drizzled on food!