Winter Forestry Medicinal Recipe
*A note about the pictures above
first picture- conifers trimmings, lavender greens, and berries collected to make tonic second picture- all the herbs, berries, trimmings, fruit, and roots in the pot ready to be simmered third picture- my finished decoction after simmering for 4 hours (all the color, nutrients,and medicinal compounds are now in the water (decoction) fourth picture- I bottled the tonic into tincture bottles for our family and clients last picture- what the finished tonic looks like (thick, dark, and a rich syrupy medicinal liquid)
Before I became a Naturopath in 2004, I studied with Tree of Light Institute and obtained my certification in herbal studies in 2000. Learning the wealth of information about herbal medicine was and has been such a blessing and gives me another source of knowledge to draw from when working with my clients. One of my favorite things to do is to create herbal tinctures, tonics, bitters, healing salves, medicinal teas, decoctions, and incense for our family and my clients.
This recipe today is one of those that I will be sharing with you. Herbal medicine is a fascinating and rewarding branch of natural healing…I am so thankful to be able to share some of this wisdom with you. I look forward to bring you more herbal recipes in the future as well. Making herbal medicine is fairly easy, you just need the ingredients, knowledge, and some patience. The most rewarding part for me is to witness how what you made with your own hands and heart is healing someone else and you as well. Just making something out of love and healing purposes for someone gives your herbal medicinals a healing energy and vibration on its own.
God gave us these
awesome sources of natural medicines to use for food and healing. Let’s use
this gift that He has blessed us with and create some healing herbal medicinals.
This tonic recipe today is going to aid our bodies and immune systems for the upcoming season. These long cold winter days can be taxing on our mind and our body, especially our immune system. This is the time of year that the flu and other viruses seem to be passed around from one to another, especially with all the holiday get togethers and parties.
We all have our favorite recipes to keep our immune systems healthy. I have always loved Elderberry Immune Tonic Syrup (which I have the recipe posted here on my website). Elderberry surely is fantastic for immune health but I wanted to bring you all something different this year, and hopefully years to come, that you can make in your kitchen. This special immune tonic recipe I’m going to share with you today is probably my favorite and the best part about it is that the base of it comes from conifer trees.
Did you know that conifer trees are edible? Not only edible, but also have many medicinal properties for our immune systems.
Mostly all conifer trees (except Yew tree, which is considered toxic and poisonous) are edible. A tree or shrub that is a cone bearing seed plant is considered a conifer. Some good examples of conifer trees in our area are White Pine, Douglas Fir, Blue Spruce, Cedar, and the Balsam Fir.
Here is a very helpful link for you to learn more about different species of conifer trees and what each species looks like with helpful pictures.
This is the perfect time of year to go out in nature, forest, or your backyard (like me) and harvest some of those medicinal conifer needles. Foraging for pine or other conifer needles is a wonderful way to connect you with nature in the winter time. When I was harvesting mine for this recipe, I felt so connected to the earth and the natural surroundings around me…I felt apart of nature.
People have been foraging conifer needles, bark, saps, pollen essential oils, and resins from these trees for centuries and making them into medicines. Conifer needles are very high in Vitamin C and have potent anti-microbial properties. These medicines or tonics were and are still used for sore throats, colds, flus, prevention of scurvy, stimulation of the immune system, congestion, stimulate the respiratory system, decongest the lungs, bring warmth and stimulation to stiff joints and decrease inflammation, made into a salves for wounds, and burned as incense to create a calm but uplifting experience.
With all of these amazing benefits these beautiful trees have to offer us, let’s create some unique and powerfully tasty and potent medicine from nature itself!
For this medicinal tonic, I put in several different medicinal herbs to create a synergistic effect with the conifer needles. I then made a decoction with all of these herbs, barks, berries, and fruit to create a rich, thick, and syrupy liquid.
A decoction is the liquid that is the result from concentrating the essence of a substance by heating or simmering it after some time…this tonic decoction took about 4 hours to make. You want to have about ¼-1/3 of the liquid left that you started with when your decoction is ready. The result is a very concentrated and potent liquid.
I added along with the conifer needles and twigs, the following herbs, roots, berries, and fruits for specific reasons, after all we’re making this tonic to boost our immune system and lift our spirit for the long winter ahead. Also, my goal here is to stimulate the drainage and detoxification organs to aid in overall immune and overall health:
*I have a link to a website below where you can purchase all of these dried organic herbs, berries, and roots…if you are fortunate to have access to fresh this time of year with any of these, please use fresh!
You do not have to use all of these ingredients to make a powerful tonic but use as many as you can or have available. I am fortunate to have these herbs (dried and fresh) because I make many herbal tinctures and tonics for our family and clients.
Most of my cupboards are overflowing apothecary shelves that are stocked with all kinds of herbs and natural items waiting to be made into healing herbal medicine.
This tonic seems tedious with all the ingredients, but it really is pretty simple. Please make sure all of your herbs and ingredients are certified organic, wild harvested, or chemical/pesticide free.
These ingredients will all be placed in a large stockpot (I used a 2 gallon pot but whatever size you have available is fine-if you have a 1 gallon pot, you can half the ingredient amounts):
1 cup Juniper Berries- these pretty blueish-gray colored berries have many medicinal properties, they help to stimulate digestion and have antimicrobial properties for the GI and urinary systems, also used as a kidney antiseptic, diuretic, and used to flush excess uric acid from the kidneys, also used for kidney stones
1 cup Elderberries-boosts immune system, rich in anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory properties
½ cup Oregon Grape Root- (in the Berberine family) a bitter herb to stimulate the bowels, digestion, and liver, this root is a powerful blood cleanser as well, it also stimulates the lymph system to move, and helps to combat parasitic and GI infections
2 cups dried or fresh organic Orange peels-these not only taste great in the tonic but add an extra anti-inflammatory effect, immune booster, and aid in digestive and respiratory health
½ cup Cardamom Pods-antioxidant and diuretic properties, contains potent anti-cancer compounds, stimulates digestion
½ cup Fennel-a carminative (helps to expel gas), prevents griping/spasms of the intestines, digestive aid and soother, and anti-inflammatory
½ cup Marshmallow Root-a demulcent herb, meaning it is used to soothe and heal inflammation of the respiratory, GI, and urinary tracts and all the mucous membranes in the body, a wonderful aid for digestive health and healing
½ cup Cloves-high in antioxidants, immune and anti-cancer compounds, potent anti-infection properties, anti-microbial, and aids in digestion
1 cup fresh Ginger Root (roughly chopped)-anti-inflammatory properties, stimulates and aids in digestion and circulation, anti-cancer properties
½ cup fresh Turmeric Root- potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, anti-cancer properties, cardiovascular protective properties
2 cups fresh Lavender greens (optional) When I was foraging my conifer clippings for this tonic, I was so happy to see that my Lavender bush was still very green and fragrant, so I clipped several greens to add in as an extra blessing/ Lavender is a calmative herb and has healing properties for the following systems; respiratory, nervous, cardiovascular, and skin
*If you have access to fresh Rose Hips right now, throw a handful of those Vitamin C and antioxidant rich beauties in your decoction. Dried are great too if you have them! Rose hips are sometimes still salvageable this time of year. Rose hips are the seed pods of roses and they are the fruit that remains after the blooms fade. I used a cup of the dried form in my recipe.
3-4 Cinnamon Sticks-loaded with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, helps to keep the blood sugar balanced, cardiovascular protective properties
Our Star of the Show: Conifer needles, twigs, cones (an assortment is fine and good, but mostly use the needles, the inner bark of the twigs and branches are very medicinal too) amount enough to fill a large stockpot by ½ or ¾ full (wash your needles, twigs, and cones well before placing them in your stockpot)
I used an assortment of Pine, Blue Spruce, and Douglas Fir for my tonic. That is what we have growing right now. The needles on the Spruce are quite prickly, so I just used the entire twigs with the needles attached.
Important: Please note, only use conifers that have not been chemically treated or sprayed and if you are foraging in the forest, use the conifers away from roadsides and public areas, these areas and trees in these areas can be covered with road dust, exhaust, and other potentially harmful environmental toxins. It is also a good idea to use the twigs and needles higher up in the tree (harvest from your waste/belly area and up to be safe). This is mainly because animals can leave their droppings on lower areas of the trees and the soil underneath.
You only want clean, organic (or pesticide free) and
untreated trees, herbs, roots, berries, and fruits for your medicines! Please
remember this, when you are making your own herbal medicine, you want to only
use the highest quality and freshest ingredients you can find. This is to
ensure you have an excellent finished and potent product in the end. I wouldn't recommend using commercial Christmas tree clippings either because most of these trees have been chemically treated.
Clean Filtered Water/ Distilled water is fine too- enough to top all of the ingredients in your large pot
You will also need a large glass jar or glass mason jars to use for storing your tonic.
1 -2 cups raw organic or pesticide free good quality honey
Cheesecloth or Muslin is very good too-*If you are using the Rose Hips in your tonic, then I would recommend you use muslin cloth instead of the cheesecloth for straining out your finished tonic. The Rose Hips have very fine hairs inside them that can be an irritant to your throat when swallowing. Using the muslin will make sure all of these fine hairs are removed. You can also use a thin clean towel to strain your herbs too.
Place all of your herbs, roots, berries, fruits, and conifer trimmings in a large stock pot and top ingredients with filtered water.
Cover (but not tightly), and simmer gently several hours on the stove for 3-4 hours or until liquid is about ¼- 1/3 of the amount you started with. My decoction simmered for almost 4 hours. Make sure you stir your mixture well at least every 15 minutes-half hour.
When your decoction is finished, let cool on stove covered. Finally strain through several layers of cheesecloth, muslin, or a thin clean towel or sheet into a large bowl and add in your raw honey and stir well. Pour into glass jars and store in refrigerator for up to 2 months. The honey will help to preserve the tonic in the refrigerator.
For immune health and strength-take ¼ cup daily
If you dealing with a cold, flu, respiratory illness, or need a general boost-take ¼ cup every 3-4 hours (waking hours) for 3-4 days
Enjoy your winter herbal medicine tonic!
Here is a good recommendation where you can purchase your good quality dried organic/wild harvested herbs, berries, and roots
Thank you to Danielle Prohom Olson for being the inspiration of this recipe!
Update:How Nature Can Heal and Calm Us