The Artistry of Herbcrafting: Traditional Winter Herbs

I’m making Elderberry Syrup (with Reishi Mushroom and Ginger) and Thieves Spray ’cause SOME bug has decided my body is a good place to be right now.  I normally take 1 oz of this daily and am never sick, but I ran out. Lesson learned.🤨😕

Soooo…  shifting my artist hat a bit to that of the wise woman herbalist and the sacred wildness of natural alchemy, I thought I’d share a few recipes and traditions for winter cold/flu season.  I always imagine my ancestral mothers painting with these natural elements and creating the artistry of recipes and natural remedies.

The Elderberry Syrup is my own recipe created and transformed through my 20+ years of herbcraft.  The Thieves and Fire Cider are traditional recipes and I’ve provided links to the ones I like below.  I hope you enjoy them!

Elderberry Syrup Elixir

3 Cups Elderberries (Sambucus nigra)
1 Cup Reishi Mushroom (dried) – broken into small pieces
¼ cup Rosehips (lends a tart taste to your brew and rosehips have the highest concentration of Vitamin C in the plant world)
¼-1 cup finely chopped Ginger (adds a spicy to fiery component so add to taste; also good for the immune system)
12 Cups Water (if on city water, use bottled spring water)
½ – 1Cup RAW Honey*(add to taste)
½ – 1 Cup Brandy – Optional (alcohol works as a stabilizer to give a longer shelf life)

Combine elderberries, etc. and water and decoct for 1 hour or until liquid has reduced by ¼ to ½. Strain and add honey. If using Brandy, add last. This Syrup is considered a 4:1 extraction (water to herb).  (See images below.)

Non-alcoholic preparation keeps in refrigerator 2-4 weeks. Alcoholic preparation keeps in refrigerator 3-4 months. Both keep in freezer up to one year.

NOTE: There are many varieties of Elderberry. It is important to ensure you are getting Black Elderberry or Sambucus nigra.










How to Use to Prevent Colds and Flu (See Disclaimer Below)

 ~Tonic – Use daily. Dosage is 2-4 tablespoons (or about 1 ounce) daily
~Acute – Use every 1-2 hours first 24 hours, then 4-6 hours for next 4 days or until all symptoms are gone. Then resume Tonic Dosage.

*Honey is preferable to sugar because it contains immune boosting components. However, DO NOT use honey for children under the age of 2 years. If preparing for a young child, use natural sugar – do not use white sugar which research shows actually depletes the immune response. Note: You also could possibly use Agave or Coconut Nectar, but check with your pediatrician first.

While you can find Elderberry products in many stores, you normally can’t buy bulk berries except from a supplier of bulk herbs.

Mountain Rose Herbs is my supplier of choice –

I prefer Mountain Rose because you don’t have to order a whole pound of Elderberries if you don’t want to and they are cheaper. I also really like their ethics and practices. You can also get your Reishi and Rosehips through Mountain Rose and possibly Frontier and/or Starwest Botanical.  Both Amazon and Vitacost carry products from these last two companies and they are good too.


Thieves Spray and Fire Cider 

Both of these winter herbal remedies are ancient, traditional brews and there are as many recipes as there are people concocting them.  I like the ones I found on Mountain Rose Herbs so sharing those links.

Thieves is a great hand sanitizer and also house spray.  Do not diffuse or use closely to cats as their immune system does not tolerate most essential oils.

Fire Cider – an adjunct therapy to the Elderberry Elixir.  Where the Elixir is sweet and earthy, Fire Cider is well, fiery.  It will however burn out most anything.


Peer Reviewed Studies
(For those who want science and tradition)

NIH, German Commission E (the leader in botanical medicine research) and other agencies (both foreign and domestic) are currently doing research on Elderberries (Sambucas nigra and other varieties) for everything from influenza and colds to inflammation/arthritis to diabetes and more. However, most of the research is in databases where you have to pay to see and/or on foreign websites in another language. Here’s what I do have:

Wishing all of you a healthy journey through this winter season.


Medical Disclaimer:  Other than the information provided in the Peer Reviewed Studies, ALL suggestions for use and efficacy are based on personal experience and traditional usage and is not meant to be construed as medical advice.  Please consult your physician or natural practitioner for medical advice.

No compensation is received from Mountain Rose Herbs.  This suggestion is based on personal preference and experience only.


Author: The Sacred Wild

Artist, Writer

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