Cold/flu season is upon us and having your sore throat lozenges ready is a great idea. At The Mother Earth News Fair in Topeka last month, I had the pleasure of sharing practical “hands-on” throat lozenge making with a number of participants. Join in making your own herbal throat pastilles/lozenges, which are tasty, simple to make, effective and use just a few ingredients. We’ll use herbs to cool and soothe scratchy irritated throats, sore and swollen throats, hoarseness, and also dry hacking coughs. This basic method also gives you the ability to make other tasteful pastilles for many different issues, including immune boosting, tummy troubles, calming anxiety, and more
Powdered herbs, even crushed herbs, will lose their potency faster than herbs stored in their whole form. Because of this , I like to powder my herbs as needed or I order small amounts of powdered herbs and store them in glass jars. Typically, I use powders within several months. Leaves and petals in their whole form that you’ve dried from your own garden can easily be powdered. Often the best remedies come from the herbs you grow and have cultivated a relationship with in healing. For example, I harvest my rose petals (rosa rugosa), garden sage, peppermint, chamomile,etc. and store them whole. I use a mortar and pestle, while others prefer to use a suribachi bowl with grooves, which can aid in the powdering. For small amounts of herbs even a food processor or coffee grinder, reserved only for herbs, can also be a convenient way to powder. Sometimes, even the simplest way ,when you have well dried crumbly plant/herb, is to rub the herb between your palms.
To help ease the discomfort of scratchy, irritated, inflamed throats we can use cooling, what we term “demulcent” herbs. Demulcents relieve inflammation or irritation of the mucous membranes such as lungs and throat (stomach,intestines,etc).
Marshmallow (Althea officinalis) and/or Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra) are two of the best soothing demulcents. Sage leaves (Salvia officinalis) aka culinary sage is antimicrobial, meaning that it fends against bacteria/viruses and sage has a long history of use for mouth sores and sore throats. Cooling and soothing, rose can reduce inflammation and relieve pain. All parts of the rose are astringent, like sage, and can be used in a variety of ways. I use rose petals in numerous remedies. Honey is wonderfully soothing for sore throats and it is also antimicrobial. I like to use raw local honey.
Sore Throat Lozenges/Pastilles (makes approx. 10 lozenges)
- 1 (tablespoon) powdered rose petals (Rosa)
- 1 T of marshmallow root powder (Althea officinalis)
- 1 T. slippery elm powder (Ulmus rubra) *endangered so use conscientiously; Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila) bark is more abundant and can be powered
- 1/2 T. powdered sage leaves powdered (Salvia officinalis) * options below
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of warm easy to pour honey (maple syrup can be substituted as well; avoid honey for children under age 2)
- additional cinnamon and/or ginger or rose powders to roll finished lozenges in to coat
Mix the powdered herbs together in a small bowl.
We want this honey to be warm/room temp enough to have a syrup consistency, but never hot.
Add the honey slowly to the powdered herbs. I like to add a little honey, stir and then reevaluate for the consistency. The end result should be a soft doughy mixture that is not too sticky. You can adjust the honey and powder as necessary. I liken this part to how my grandma made pie crust, blending until it looks “just right.” I cook this way and unfortunately, it annoys people wanting by the book recipe exact measurements.
Once you have mixed the herbs and honey together you can roll them into balls (roughly the size of your pinky fingernail) but you can always make them larger, round or flat or rectangular as you prefer. Roll them and place them out on wax paper.
I like to finish the lozenges/pastilles by rolling them in either some additional cinnamon, ginger, or rose petal powder. I like cinnamon, but not everyone does.
Leave finished lozenges/pastilles on wax paper to dry and harden overnight or longer depending upon weather conditions. When firm, you can keep them inside a tin or small jar for use.
If you wanted to, you could always adapt the recipe by using other respiratory helpers such as powdered thyme,peppermint, rosemary, hyssop or monarda in place of the sage. You can add a few drops of Echinacea or elderberry or other tinctures/alcohol extract in the mix as well. Adjusting your own recipe to incorporate powdered elderberry, wild cherry bark (Prunus serotina) or licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra ) is another option.
Variations are endless…Have fun and create.
Other variations on the same basic recipe of powdered herbs and honey..In general, begin with 1 part of a demulcent herb which is gooey and helps (slippery elm, marshmallow root, plantain leaf,violet leaf, etc as a base) then add other powdered herbs or you can include liquids such as teas,tinctures,etc…but don’t get your mix too watery.
*Do Not add essential oils! Essential oils should never be ingested in beverages, foods, desserts or lozenges. Use herbs, spices, or flavoring if needed (vanilla, almond,lemon,peppermint).
Upset Tummy: a few herb option ideas
slippery elm powder with powdered peppermint or spearmint, orange peel powder,powdered chamomile, angelica (Angelica archangelica), dandelion root powder, fennel, ginger
Adaptogen lozenges help body deal with stress,be resilient: powdered schizandra berry (Schisandra chinensis) , Eleuthro root (Eleutherococcus senticosus), astragalus root, ashwagandha root, Holy basil (Tulsi/Ocimum sanctum), Rhodiola rosea, chaga or other medicinal mushroom powders, etc..
Calming/sleep/anxiety: oatstraw powder (Avena sativa), Chamomile powder, Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), rose (Rosa ), lemon balm (Melissa), linden flower (Tilia) among others.
Valentine violet leaf, hawthorn berry powder, oatstraw, ginger, damiana, rose petal, cocoa powder, vanilla bean, cinnamon are some possible herbs to include.
Thank you to Mountain Rose Herbs for donating the herbal ingredients for lozenge making at Mother Earth News Fair www.mountainroseherbs.com