Winter tonics to keep infection away


Posted on: 16th January, 2014

Category: Health & Lifestyle

Contributor: West Cork People

The winter is here and the months ahead will be cold and damp. We all need to guard against colds and chest infections and to keep warm says West Cork based herbalist Jacqueline Kilbryde.

There are many herbs, tried and tested over the centuries that are known to provide warmth and to enhance our immune resistance to infections. When imported fruits were a rarity, our native remedies providing Vitamin C were known and utilised.

One such is from the native Elder (Sambucus canadensis), which in the autumn months provides us with an abundance of berries rich in this Vitamin. In the past, these were picked and made into a delicious syrup and stored throughout the winter months. It is interesting that in the autumn, our hedgerows are filled with plants providing berries and fruits (Rose hips, Elderberries, Blackberries) all full of Vitamin C, necessary for use in the winter as an immune-stimulant. The expression ‘nature provides’ is appropriate and very relevant.

Again, it is important to identify the medicinal plant before picking anything. The berries of the Elder ripen around September and October (as the season for berries is now past, dried berries may also be used and are available from most wholefood stores).

Here is a recipe for a lovely syrup, which is an excellent winter tonic. It is pleasant to take.
6lbs of Ripe Elderberries
600ml (approx 1 pint) of water
Piece of ginger and stick of Cinnamon

Method: Put the ripe elderberries in a saucepan and cover with water. Add the piece of ginger and cinnamon (both of these spices are warming). Bring to the boil and lower the heat and simmer for approx 25 minutes. Take off the heat and have ready a bowl, strainer and muslin cloth. The muslin is fitted over the strainer, which is placed over the bowl. Pour the mixture into the strainer and leave to cool. When cooled, squeeze all the liquid out of the cooked berries into the bowl. To this warm mixture add honey…for every 500 ml of liquid add half the weight of honey, ie 250g. This preserves the elderberry liquid, which is bottled and stored in the fridge.

The dosage is 5ml 1x daily to prevent colds and infection and 5ml 3x a day in the presence of infection. The syrup is also excellent for coughs, promoting expectoration and dispelling phlegm.

Honey infused syrups
This is another simple and effective preparation made in readiness to combat those coughs in the winter months or indeed at any time of year. It is easy to take and especially great for children.

Take a bunch of fresh Thyme herb (Thymus vulgaris) and chop it finely. The flowers can be white but are usually mauve or purple. Put the chopped herb into a jar and press it down well. Pour good quality honey into the jar coating and covering the herb fully. Leave this to steep for at least two weeks. After the two weeks, strain the fluid through muslin into a bowl and bottle, and label. The therapeutic properties of the thyme will have infused into the honey imparting its taste and smell, as well as its medicinal quality. Thyme contains, among others, an essential oil, Thymol. This is excreted in the lungs producing and antiseptic action as well as expectoration, expelling and clearing phlegm.

Many medicinal herbs with expectorant and antiseptic actions can be made into syrups. Some examples include Mullein flowers, Fennel and Coltsfoot.

We have discussed two remedies and their method of preparation for the winter months. Both are useful for clearing coughs and phlegm and have been made into syrups. Another very popular herbal preparation is an Elixir. Both Thyme herb and Elderberries can be made into an elixir. It is very straightforward to prepare and has a much longer shelf life than that of a syrup.

Put ripe Elderberries into a jar. Pour honey over them, coating and covering well. Then pour in brandy or vodka to fill the jar completely. Leave in a dark place for up to four weeks. Always label your preparation with what has been used and the date it was made. After this time, strain through muslin into a clean glass jar and label once more. The colour of this Elixir is deep red to purple and it is delicious to take. The alcohol acts as a solvent, extracting all the benefit from the medicinal material being used and acts as a preservative, increasing the shelf life so that this preparation can be kept for a much longer period than an ordinary syrup. Dosage: Take 5ml 1x daily  diluted in a small amount of water or 5ml 3x daily when a cold or cough is present.

Latest News Articles:

Issue of childcare a major concern for 72 per cent of female entrepreneurs
Rain, slurry deadlines and housing
Celtic Ross Hotel awarded AA Rosette for Culinary Excellence
St. Joseph’s in Clonakilty looks back on 50 years of educating young girls
‘Operation Transformation’ for Young Beef Farmers
Macra President welcomes publication of EU Young Farmer Survey
Vital role of Focus in the West Cork community highlighted at Open Morning
Clonakilty Food Company opens new production facility in Clonakilty
Beara student one of three Cork students awarded €20,000 scholarship by Naughton Foundation
International success for Skibb rowers

Join us on Facebook

Bandon Walled Town Festival in looking for new ideas!
Would you like to get involved in the 2018 Festival?If you yourself would like to be involved in big or small way
... See MoreSee Less

11th October, 2017  ·  

Submarines, American Sailors, and the Underwater War in Irish Waters, 1917-1918
by Dr John Borgonovo in The Parish Centre, Clonakilty
on Thursday Oct 26 2017 at 8.30 pm

In 1917, unrestricted submarine warfare by German U-boats brought the United States into WWI and created a crisis in Britain. To defeat the submarine menace, an American naval fleet was dispatched to County Cork, bringing about 10,000 sailors with it. This talk will explain the circumstances of this extraordinary event, and how Cork residents dealt with their unexpected American guests.

Dr John Borgonovo is a lecturer in the School of History at UCC. His publications include Spies, Informers, and the 'Anti-Sinn Féin' Society: The Intelligence War in Cork City, 1920-1921; The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918; Exercising a close vigilance over their daughters: Cork women, American sailors, and Catholic vigilantes, 1917-18; Something in the Nature of a Massacre: The Bandon Valley Killings Revisited (with Andy Bielenberg). His latest publication (with co-authors John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil and Mike Murphy) is the highly acclaimed and magnificient Atlas of the Irish Revolution. In July of this year, he organised a very successful conference on Winning the Western Approaches - Unrestricted Submarine Warfare and the US Navy in Ireland 1917-1918.
... See MoreSee Less

11th October, 2017  ·  

Apple Juicing Day in Clonakilty next Sunday Sept 30th. All welcome to bring their apples from 2-6pm to the Clonakilty Community Garden (on entrance road to Clonakilty Lodge).

Building on the success of its inaugural 2016 event, local voluntary environmental organisation Sustainable Clonakilty invites people to bring along their apples and press them to extract their own juice to take home, using the group's Apple Press.

Volunteers will be at hand to assist in the procedure. Bring along your apples washed; clean containers to freeze your juice (milk/juice bottles or cartons, plastic bottles with caps); clean, sterilised glass bottles to pasteurise with swing caps or suitable for 26 mm diameter metal cap.

A limited number of new 3 litres juice bags that are suitable for freezing and pasteurising, can be purchased for a nominal fee on the day also.

This is a free community event and donations will be welcome to cover costs.

For further information, please contact Xavier at or text at 086/0476124.
... See MoreSee Less

26th September, 2017  ·  

Dúchas Clonakilty's first lecture for the Autumn promises to be of huge interest to all: Emerging from the Shadow of Tom Crean – The Parish Centre, Clonakilty, Thursday September 28th 8.30pm.

Lecture by Aileen Crean O’Brien & Bill Sheppard

In May 2016, Kerry man Tom Crean, along with Ernest Shackleton and four other crew members, landed the James Caird lifeboat on the rocky isle of South Georgia. The navigation of that small boat, across 1500 km through icy winds and towering seas, is regarded as the greatest ever feat of navigation. They then trekked across the forbidding and inhospitable mountains and glaciers of South Georgia to seek help for the rest of their crew, who were left behind on Elephant Island after their ship, the Endurance, was crushed by the Antarctic ice.

One hundred years later, Crean’s grandaughter, Aileen Crean O’Brien, set off with her sons and partner to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps. Join Aileen and Bill to hear of their adventures (and misadventures) on the Southern Ocean and the island of South Georgia.
... See MoreSee Less

7th September, 2017  ·  

Jump to: