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.

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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.
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20th March, 2018  ·  


This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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