Cut and scrape the vanilla beans into the bourbon bottle.
Cut up the bean pods into small pieces and add those as well.
Shake the bottle daily.
Store in a cool dark place for 6-8 weeks.
As you use the vanilla extract, refill with more bourbon and add vanilla beans.
This will keep for years.
This syrup is a staple in our house year round. My husband keeps a bottle at work, we have several bottles here at home and I often give it as a gift. This cough syrup is yummy and really does the trick, whether during cold and flu season, allergy season or whenever there is a dry, itchy, sore or crackly throat or cough.
Thyme Cough Syrup
Decoct 2 oz of fresh Thyme leaves and stems. Simmer over medium heat in a covered pot for 1 hour.
When slightly cooled add the honey and vanilla.
Decant into the syrup bottle and store in the fridge.
Shake well before taking.
Take 1 T as needed
My husband and I hike in the forest behind our house everyday. The forest borders a river and is surrounded by man-made lakes. There are tons of mosquitoes, horseflies, ticks and these flying bugs of dubious identity that latch on and crawl around our arms and backs. It is a true testament to how much we love nature that we venture into this madness daily.
We usually use a very strong commercial repellent that feels heavy and very chemically on my skin. The smell of this repellent makes me wonder what on earth we are spraying on our bodies. I really detest putting this stuff on my skin, yet the idea of 1,000 bites or not going into the forest at all are not good options either.
This summer I have been field testing a natural insect repellent. It has gone through a few iterations until I have a formula that I am satisfied with. I will continue to experiment with this and inform of any updates or improvements.
This repellent is good for your skin, feels amazing, smells wonderful and does a very decent job keeping the bugs off. It needs to be applied quite liberally and carefully.
Leave Me Alone! Insect Repellent
Decoct 1 oz each Catnip and Neem leaves. Simmer leaves in a covered pot for 15 minutes, take off the heat and then leave covered in the pot for 1 hour.
When the decoction is cooled, add the essential oils.
Decant into the spray bottle.
Shake very well before each use.
Store in a cool, dry place or in the fridge.
I would love to hear your experiences with natural repellents. I am currently field testing a different formula that includes geranium and citronella. I will keep you posted.
Infused oil recipe:
Dry herbs in a dehydrator or in a cool dry place.
Grind herbs with a mortar and pestle or in a grinder. You need as much surface area as possible to come into contact with the oil.
Fill a jar half full with the ground herbs. Fill to the brim with the oil of your choice. (I normally use olive oil for salves and almond oil for cosmetic creams). Allow for air pockets to bubble up. Continue to fill with oil until saturated.
Place the oil in a sunny window for 6-8 weeks to macerate or place in a bread maker on low heat overnight.
Your oil is now ready to be made into a salve, cream or placed directly on your skin.
Have you ever had an outbreak of some recurring ailment only to find that you are out of your prescription and it is Friday night with no hope of getting a refill until Monday morning?
A few years ago, I had this very thing happen and I was panicked because letting the yeast infection go for even a day meant longer on the course of meds from the doctor. I was still new to herbalism, but had a pretty big garden. After some research and a quick harvest of the Oregano and Calendula in my yard, I whipped up a batch of this Fungi Foe Salve and was amazed at the results. I have not had to refill that prescription since.
In a double boiler (or a pot nestled in a larger pot filled with a bit of water) over medium heat, add the oils and beeswax.
Stir until the beeswax melts and is fully incorporated.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a moment.
Add the essential oils. Stir.
Pour into clean and sterilised jars.
Apply topically to any fungal infections, yeast, rashes etc…
I have used this salve on toenail fungal outbreaks as well as on my most intimate parts. It works really well.
Oregano: anti-viral, antimicrobial, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial
Calendula: vulnerary, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, immune stimulant, antifungal, antiviral, lymphatic, antispasmodic
Red Thyme: anti-bacterial, anti-septic, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, affinity for yeast infections
Lavender: antibacterial, soothing, anti-inflammatory
Tea Tree: anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic
I don’t even remember being bitten by a tick. I just noticed what seemed to be a bug bite on my bum that kept getting bigger and bigger. Eventually, it was the size of Jupiter and bumpy and purple with concentric circles. The doctor took one look and diagnosed me with Borrelia or Lyme Disease.
Immediately, I was put on a course of Doxycycline, 400mg for 21 days. No more sunshine, no more normal stomach. A day later the joint pain came. I was fatigued, foggy, slow, in pain and unhappy.
Since then, I have had a couple of clients with Lyme Disease and this is the information that I give them during our initial consultation:
Antibiotics can be less than completely effective because:
Borrelia is evasive
Borrelia becomes part of the microbiome in the form of spirochete cysts which the antibiotics are ill-equipped to deal with
Antibiotics can harm an already frail immune system
Antibiotics can damage the already damaged mitochondria
Herbal therapy can be of great support because:
Herbs have a wide spectrum of antimicrobial properties
Multiple herbs used simultaneously provide synergy
Herbs enhance immune function
Herbs support a balanced microbiome
Herbs help body deal with spirochete cysts
Borrelia does more than just damage cells, produce cysts and cause uncomfortable symptoms. It damages the immune system leaving the body unable to fight and become strained by the course of antibiotics required.
Holistic Herbal Therapy
1: Restorative- using herbs to restore balance and immune function
2: Symptomatic- relieve acute symptoms
3: Heroic- aggressive killing of microbes
Restorative: Immunomodulation- reishi mushroom, astragalus, eleuthro
Balance microbiome- probiotics, magnesium, oregano or wormwood and activated charcoal to reduce parasites and molds in the intestinal tract
Cellular support- quercitin in the form of sage
Symptomatic: Anti-inflammatory- turmeric, green tea
Heroic: Antimicrobial- antibiotics, smilax (sarsaparilla)
Herbs are as varied an individual as humans, there is really no way to give an herbal therapy protocol that suits everyone. This protocol is a great place to start, then, after listening to what your body is telling you, you can make adjustments.
Update: After writing this post, my husband Dan came home with flu-like symptoms and a swollen red circular rash on his elbow. He feels fatigued, sick, achy and pretty miserable. I think we are headed to the doctor tomorrow as he is an avid hiker and removes ticks from himself at least weekly. I am starting him tonight on sage, turmeric, yarrow, elderflower as well as a plantain poultice.
Oregano is part of the mint family (Lamiaceae) with a host of familiar relatives like Thyme, Lavender and Rosemary. Oregano thrives in dry, well-drained soils.
Origanum vulgare is sometimes called wild marjoram in Europe as it is closely related to sweet marjoram. Origanum comes from the Greek words oros meaning mountain and ganos, meaning joy and has been historically associated with good luck and happiness. It was found to be used to fashion crowns adorning Greek and roman brides and grooms on their wedding day.
Medicinally, an infusion of the herb is useful for feverish conditions and for treating coughs, colds and influenza due to its ability to improve the removal of phlegm from the lungs and relax bronchial muscles. It has also served traditionally as an herb for the gut, relieving flatulence and improving digestion. Oregano possesses strong antimicrobial and antiseptic constituents and is therefore a good choice for treating intestinal infections.
The essential oil of oregano has shown potent antimicrobial and antioxidant properties due to the presence of thymol and carvacrol. Clinical evidence is lacking, yet oregano oil products have been used to treat conditions ranging from respiratory to gastrointestinal.
According to Herbarium:
“Medicinally, oregano’s first documented use dates back 50,000 years to Iraq where archeologists discovered the grave of an apparent noble woman who had small bag of wild oregano tied around her neck. Researchers have also found oregano-infused olive oil in an ancient Grecian ship in the Aegean Sea and theorize that it was most likely used as a therapeutic rub and as a food preservative (Bagchi, Preuss & Swaroop, 2016).
The Greeks also used oregano for fomentations and as a remedy for narcotic poisoning, convulsions, and dropsy, while the Turks routinely used oregano to make what is known as kekik water. Used to aid in digestion and regulate blood sugar, kekik water is made by removing the essential oil from the distillate of oregano herbs (Grieve, 1931/1971; Kintzios, 2002).
In the Middle Ages, people often carried posies of fresh oregano or used oregano vinegar to protect themselves against the black plague (Crocker, 2005). And by the 17th century, the British herbalist Culpeper lauded wild oregano for its effectiveness against lung and ear infections, intestinal complaints, stomach aches, tuberculosis, and even hepatitis (Bagchi, Preuss & Swaroop, 2016).
Oregano has also been used medicinally as an astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, expectorant, emmenagogue, stimulant, and stomachic. As a folk remedy, oregano has been used to relieve colic, cough, headaches, nervousness, and toothaches. And more recently, oregano has been used as an oral antiseptic, to treat viral and bacterial infections, and as an anti-cancer agent (Kintzios, 2002).
Ship logs from the eighteenth century reveal that aromatic spices were commonly used to preserve food on long journeys across the sea. Though these savvy sailors didn’t know the precise mechanism at work in these spices, they knew that aromatics were essential to a seaman’s survival. In the case of oregano, we now know that it’s the herb’s antioxidant and anti-microbial properties that help preserve food, which slow lipid peroxidation and keep pathogens at bay (Bagchi, Preuss & Swaroop, 2016; Preedy, 2016).
Sixty-percent of the world’s wild Organum grows in Turkey, and it seems that oregano was the Mediterranean’s best kept secret until the early twentieth century, when North Americans began to show an increased interest in oregano. In the years between 1940 and 1985, oregano consumption rose an astounding 3800 percent in the United States, though this increase was owing more to its culinary uses, rather than medicinal ones (Kintzios, 2002).
While Americans were busy adding oregano to their spaghetti and pizza, serious research was underway on its curative properties. In 1910, W.H. Martindale found that oregano oil had 26 times more phenol than synthetic sources and touted it as “the most powerful plant-derived antiseptic known” (as cited in Bagchi, Preuss, & Swaroop, 2016, p. 668). In 1919, a researcher at the Pasteur Institute studied the effects of oregano oil in septic water. Studies revealed that even small concentrations of the oregano oil had a significant germicidal effect on microbial growth. Despite a growing body of research, however, oregano largely remained an under-utilized medicinal herb in the United States well into the twentieth century (Bagchi, Preuss, & Swaroop, 2016).
Today, oregano is one of the most widely used and researched herbs on the planet. Worldwide production of oregano is estimated at 10,000 tons per year, and a wide range of studies have established oregano as a powerful antioxidant, antiseptic, antibacterial, and antiseptic (Kintzios, 2002).
The antioxidant content of oregano is particularly noteworthy. In a U.S. Department of Agriculture study, oregano ranked higher than any other fruit or herb in antioxidant activity. Oregano has 42 times more antioxidants than apples, 12 times as much as those found in oranges, and 4 times the antioxidant content of blueberries (Murray, Pizzorno, & Pizzorno, 2005).
With its high antioxidant content, oregano may prove useful in combating the free radicals responsible for causing Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders (Heo et al., 2012). Other studies suggest that oregano’s antioxidant effects are capable of modulating cancer growth and preventing metastasis (Al Dhaheri et al., 2013; Ayesh, Abed, & Farris, 2014 ). What’s more, oregano has proven an effective antimicrobial agent against both Gram-negative and Gram-positive microorganisms and may prove vital in the fight against antibiotic resistant infections (Dorman & Deans, 2000; Nostro et al., 2004).”
Capsules: 450 mg 2x/day with meals
Powder: 0.5 – 1 teaspoon with food
Tincture: Standard extract: 260 mg a day
Oil: 90mg daily
Oregano is generally regarded as safe. There is some discrepancy among research, but there is some evidence that oregano can cause uterine contractions so it should not be used therapeutically during pregnancy. Oregano oil can cause irritation to skin and mucous membranes and therefore should be diluted. Oregano essential oil shouldn’t be used topically for children under the age of two.