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Elderberry syrup is a mainstay of our Fall and Winter natural remedies, and one of my favorites because it is the easiest to get kids to take happily. It combines the benefits of flu-fighting elderberry with the antibacterial properties of raw honey (and some other beneficial herbs) for a highly-effective remedy.
What is an Herbal Electuary?
Herbal syrups (like elderberry) are a great way to get the benefits of an herb. Electuaries are similar, but take even less time to make and can make some of the most pungent tasting herbs palatable.
By definition, an electuary is a powdered herb mixed with honey (preferably raw). The texture can vary from more like a syrup (less herb in proportion to honey) or like a thick paste that can even be rolled into pills or lozenges (more herbs in proportion to honey).
Though electuaries are much less well-known than they once were, they are still an excellent and simple herbal remedy you can make at home in minutes and can be really helpful during cold and flu season. Most often, an electuary is made with dried and powdered herbs mixed into honey.
Since both dried herbs are honey are shelf stable, this creates a remedy with a long shelf life. In fact, honey has been used as a preservative for thousands of years, as it has a low moisture content and natural antibacterial properties that give it an almost-indefinite shelf life. (The only caution with honey is not to give it to children under 1 year old as it can contain spores of Clostridium botulinum, which adults and older children can easily digest but which babies have not yet developed the ability to digest properly).
How to Make an Herbal Electuary:
If you are new to natural remedies, electuaries are an excellent place to start since they are very versatile and almost impossible to mess up! You can use any powdered herb and mix with a high quality honey and you have an electuary in minutes.
- Raw Honey (I use this manuka honey for added benefit but regular raw honey also works great)
- Powdered, dried herbs of choice – TIP: if you don’t have powdered herbs, just run your dried herbs through a blender, food processor or spice grinder until powdered. The thinner the powder, the smoother the electuary will be.
- Place the dried, powdered herbs in a bowl.
- Add just enough honey to make a paste (about peanut butter thickness or a little thicker).
- Store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and use as needed.
How to Use an Herbal Electuary
Depending on the electuary and how much of the herb I need to consume, I take a spoonful a day. For electuaries for specific ailments, I take more often as needed to speed recovery.
NOTE: Herbs can be very beneficial but also have the potential to be very powerful. As with any product containing herbs, check with a doctor before using, especially if you have a medical condition or are pregnant or nursing.
Types of Electuaries
This is the fun part! There are endless ways to make an herbal electuary and you can customize based on your family’s needs. They can be made with a single herb or a blend and for a specific purpose or just general health. These are some of my favorites:
- Chamomile Electuary– Powdered chamomile with honey (add a tiny pinch of sea salt and this is a great electuary to promote relaxation before bed)
- Golden Milk Electuary– All the benefits of Turmeric Tea Golden Milk in a non-perishable form. Mix a tablespoon into a cup of warmed water or coconut milk for instant turmeric tea. I use equal parts dried Turmeric root and cinnamon powder and add dried ginger powder and cayenne pepper to taste before mixing with honey to make a paste. Great by the spoonful or in tea and helps speed recovery from illness.
- Pregnancy Electuary– My pregnancy tea in tasty electuary form. I mix about 1/4 cup powdered raspberry leaf with 1 tablespoon each of powdered alfalfa and nettle and add honey to make a paste.
- Vitamin C Electuary– I mix equal parts powdered camu-camu, rose hips and hibiscus to make a powder rich in Vitamin C. I add just enough honey to make a very thick paste. This can be eaten by the spoonful or formed into little pills or lozenges.
- Echinacea Electuary– The easiest way to take Echinacea (which can have a pungent taste). I mix powdered echinacea root with honey to make a thick paste and use as needed.
- Sore Throat Electuary– I mix equal parts powdered peppermint leaf and marshmallow root with enough honey to make a very thick paste and form these into lozenges. They are great for easing the pain of a sore throat.
- Ginger-Mint Electuary– I give this to my kids for tummy aches. I mix equal parts peppermint leaf and dried ginger with honey to make a thick peanut butter consistency. I give by the spoonful when needed.
Ever made an electuary (even without knowing you were making one?) Will you try making them now?
Discussion (46 Comments)
I have never heard of these before! This is amazing! I am going to make the ginger mint and the tumeric milk first! Thank you =)
The ginger-mint-raw honey combo is brilliant for a tummy ache! I’ll definitely be making these! Honestly I’d never heard of an electuary until today! Thanks for the enlightenment!
I was wondering if you had anything for sore gums and teeth. While my teenager suffers with new braces.
Crushed/chewed plantain leaf in season. Plaster this in between cheek and gum; leave it there for awhile. When it’s out of season, I make a salve with plantain that I put right on sores in my mouth. Takes away the pain and heals it up quickly. I would think gargling with tea made from dried plantain would be helpful too. So I suppose an electuary made with plantain would work even better! This weed grows abundantly around our home!
I know this is an old article, hopefully you will still respond. Would the Plantain leaf with lemonbalm added used the same way be effective for cold/canker sores maybe?
Looks like I made one of these without realising!! I am experimenting with herbal remedies to cure/alleviate my hay fever symptoms (it’s spring here in Australia) and, using local raw honey, have added instead, fresh herbs. I take 1-2 spoonfuls a day. I keep the small jar in the fridge so as to preserve its freshness because I didn’t use dry herbs. I am almost one week in and I’m astounded at the benefits! I’ve had wonderful results, hardly any sneezing or itchy eyes etc.
This is a great way to consume a remedy. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Which herbs did you use for your allergies, Suzie?
You could definitely make this as an electuary using the dried herb form, but I am using fresh herbs so keep in the fridge. Use a small jar & use up within 2 weeks then make a fresh batch.
Mix into locally sourced honey: crushed raw garlic (I did about 5), finely grate fresh ginger and turmeric, add a 2 tsp bee pollen and 2 tsp camu camu for vitamin C (or use rosehip powder etc). Add some cracked black pepper. Pepper improves the bioavailability of ingredients making them more beneficial.
Nettle tea – many people saying nettle as a natural antihistamine, so I drink at least a cup daily.
Also, I’ve found lining the nostrils helps immensely too! You can use Vaseline but I don’t like this type of product so instead made up a simple balm, recipe below. Chamomile and lemon apparently help so I’ve added those in essential oil form. I really this several times a day.
Hayfever nasal balm:
1 Tbs coconut oil
1 Tbs shea butter
1 tsp heaped of beeswax
5 drops chamomile
5 drops lemon EO
Good luck! 🙂
Thank you Suzie! I don’t know if my allergies have become worse or it’s the use of Flonase. Definitely want to try these out and get away from using Flonase and other allergy meds.
My biy is under 12 months. Is there a honey substitute? Well he is 10 months I could just make the stuff to have ready!
Actually, I believe most syrups also have the potential to carry the botulinum spores, so be careful about substitutes. And pasteurization doesn’t kill the spores. Breast milk (Or whatever substitute you may be using) is probably the only liquid your baby should have before a year old. If it were my baby, and I felt the need for this kind of remedy, I think I would try using coconut oil. Shelf stable and beneficial.
I occasionally make the turmeric tea one and didn’t know I was making an electuary. It’s good for taking to work when I’m feeling a little run down. Thanks for this post! I can’t wait to try to ginger-mint one.
Do you grow your own herbs, or buy them? If you buy them, where do you purchase them? Thanks for any info you can provide.
From Mountain Rose Herbs
I will absolutely be making some of these in the next couple weeks! We have used the elder berry syrup for years and love it. These are going to add to the list of fun things for my daughter and I to make together while also having a great purpose. I love having useful AND fun things to do w/ kids!
Thanks for this! I have a friend with Rheumatoid Arthritis trying to get more turmeric into her life. This is perfect for her!
we use turmeric as an alternative to dusting meat or other with flour prior to frying. Just use turmeric. Also, we mix it into our casseroles etc
Oh man, these sound awesome! Time for some fun herb-crafting!