How to Make Elderberry Syrups and Jellies

How to Make Elderberry Syrups and Jellies with Fresh or Dried Elderberries
My friend, Tami, saw my comment on the Common Sense Homesteading Facebook page about wanting to experiment with elderberries, and embraced the challenge with gusto.  She and her family went picking, and came home with the entire car trunk filled with elderberries.  Bless her heart, I didn’t have time to help her process them the next day, so she stuck them in the freezer overnight and tackled them herself.  In this post we’ll share how to process fresh elderberries, plus how to make elderberry syrup and elderberry jelly with those fresh elderberries, and an easy recipe for a small batch of immune boosting elderberry syrup with dried elderberries. [Read more...]

Best Cold and Flu Fighters + Home Remedies for Coughs, Congestion and Earaches

The Best Cold and Flu Fighters plus Home Remedies for Coughs and Congestion

Cold and flu season is sweeping the country.  It’s time to prepare yourself with the best cold and flu fighters to help you stay healthy, or to recover quickly if you get sick.

Here’s a round up of posts from the Common Sense Homesteading website that are focused on colds and flus. [Read more...]

12 Home Remedies for Coughs

Home Remedies for Coughs - help for dry cough, hacking cough and croupy cough. All natural cough and sore throat care. Cough remedies safe for children.

When cold and flu season hits, it’s nice to have an assortment of home remedies for coughs on hand to sooth sore throats.  Most of these are suitable for coughs in adults or children.  The honey, syrups and milk with butter would be most helpful for dry coughs.  We’ve tried just about all of these at one point or another, depending on who’s coughing and what type of cough they have.  I hope you find them useful as well.

Home Remedy for Coughs #1 – Honey and Cinnamon

Pour some honey in a small container ( I used an 8 ounce mason jar) and mix in some cinnamon to taste.  Take one spoonful as needed to quiet cough.  Both cinnamon and honey are anti-bacterial and anti-viral, and the honey coats and soothes the throat.  (Bottom right image in photo.) [Read more...]

The Best Herbs and Spices for Colds and Flus – Plus How Your Kitchen Sink May Help You Stay Healthy

The Best Herbs and Spices for Colds and Flus - Plus How Your Kitchen Sink May Help You Stay Healthy

This is the final post in our “Cold and Flu” series.  One could go on almost indefinitely with healing options, as our bodies are very complex and a great many things influence our immune response, but I think this series represents some of the best “tools” available for boosting your immune system.

This post discusses how herbs, spices, traditional remedies and your kitchen sink can help boost your immune system and protect you from colds and flus.

Herbal Antibiotics for Colds and Flus

You are probably aware (hopefully) that most colds and flus are not caused by bacteria, they are caused by viruses.  Therefor, standard antibiotics are useless as a remedy for colds and flus.  There are now anti-viral medications, but they are most effective if administered early on, and may have some side effects.  Plus, who really wants to schlep into the ER when you feel lousy and your immune system is already compromised?  Secondary infections are often more dangerous than the original virus.

It turns out that many common herbs are not only antibacterial but also antiviral, and have minimal to no side effects.  In the book Herbal Antibiotics, Stephen Harrod Buhner presents his top choices for cold and flu fighting herbs, including echinacea, wormwood root, balsam root, boneset, red root, licorice, sage, garlic and honey.  (While not technically an herb, honey is often used in herbal medicine and so is included in the book.)  Complete dosing instructions and contraindications are given in the text.  I highly recommend the book, as it gives not only practical information on herbal use, but an overview of the history of antibiotics and how antibiotic resistance spreads.  Technically, he includes both herbs and spices in his arsenal, as various plant parts are used.

An example of the easy to use recipes that Stephen provides is The Best Cold and Flu Tea, which contains:

2 teaspoons sage
juice of one lemon (or one teaspoon lemon balm herb)
Pinch cayanne pepper
1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey

To prepare the tea, pour one cup boiling water over sage and allow to steep for 10 minutes.  Strain out herbs, ad remaining ingredients, and drink hot.

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Mountain Rose Herbs has an excellent stock of organic herbs and spices.
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Best Herbs and Spices for Colds and Flus

One of my favorite remedies for cold and flu season is a big batch of chicken soup. Chicken contains an amino acid called cysteine, which can thin the mucus in your lungs and make it easier to expel.  Proper soup often includes an assortment of herbs and spices, many of which have healing properties.  The Weston A Price Foundation website states:

Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.

I always include bay leaf in my soups, which is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.  Parsley is loaded with vitamins and minerals, and can act as a stomach soother.  Sage is another herb that is popular with poultry, and is also anti-bacterial and anti-viral.  Fresh sage is best when available because many of the beneficial compounds are concentrated in the oil.  Celery, too, has a long history of medicinal use.

Other spices that are commonly used in holiday cooking that help boost your immune system are cinnamon, nutmeg, rosemary and cloves.

Rule of thumb:  strongly scented and flavored herbs and spices come with strong oils that can add flavor, improve your health and often extend the life of your food

Put some extra cinnamon or nutmeg in your eggnog.   Be generous with the spices in your pumpkin pie or scones.  Throw some extra sage in the stuffing.  Make a rosemary vinaigrette for your salads.  Experiment with the flavors.  Regular use over time will help boost your immune system.

copper faucets

Copper faucets are antibacterial

How Can Your Sink Fight Germs?

While frequent hand washing is an obvious answer (please skip the anti-microbial soaps – plain soap and water acts as a surfactant to lift germs away without breeding superbugs), your sink may help keep you healthy in another way – if you use copper faucets.  A recent study in Europe demonstrates:

Under normal daily conditions the level of multi-resistant Staphylococci Aureus (MRSA) bacteria decreased by a third, and their resettlement on copper door handles and switches decreased considerably.

In our home, we have copper handles on all the cabinets, and copper faucet in the kitchen and brass door handles (brass is typically 63% copper and 37% zinc).  Not as much copper as in the study, but we’re not coping with MRSA.  If you don’t have a big budget, you may want to consider just swapping out drawer pulls in your most germy/heavily used areas, like near the kitchen or bathroom sinks.

copper drawer handle

Copper drawer handle

If you’ve found this post useful, please share it with your friends.

You may also enjoy the other posts in the series:

Preparing for Cold and Flu Season:  Step 1 – Probiotics
Coping with Stomach Flu Symptoms (Why the BRAT diet may not be your best choice)
Preparing for Cold and Flu Season with Essential Oils
The Best Vitamins and Minerals for Fighting Colds and Flus

and the related post:

Elderberries:  How to Make Syrups and Jellies

This post has been linked to Fat Tuesday and Homestead Barn Hop #38.


The Best Vitamins and Minerals for Fighting Colds and Flus

Best Vitamins and Minerals for Fighting colds and Flus @ Common Sense Homesteading

What are the best vitamins and minerals for fighting colds and flus?

There’s been a lot of hype in recent years about this supplement or that supplement being able to prevent colds and flus or lessen their duration and severity, but how much is real and how much is hype?  Here are the top choices for my cold and flu arsenal.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has been demonstrated to have a strong anti-viral effect. states:  “In high doses, vitamin C neutralizes free radicals, helps kill viruses, and strengthens the body’s immune system. Taking supplemental vitamin C routinely helps prevent viral infections.”  It has been shown to be effective against both the swine and bird flu. [Read more...]