9.17.09 Gesundheit! ¡Salud!
My friend Bryan Thomson—a supremely gifted hair colorist AND an herbalist extraordinaire—has inspired me to delve deeper into the world of natural medicine. I began using this book about 10 years ago during an extremely stressful time of my life when my skin was bad and my hair was falling out, and I soon found myself making yellow dock poultices and steaming my face with dried strawberry leaves. Did it work? The short answer is "Yes." But, more to the point, I discovered a new way to approach my own health; one that let me be more in charge and that led to a deeper understanding of how to treat stress and other physical ailments with herbs and nutrition. This is not to say that I won't take a pill. But I like to avoid that and will first try many a remedy of my own devising, based on the ancient wisdom derived from nature. This tonic is a great example.
It's both a preventative and a cure, and it's something you can make and keep on hand to ward off seasonal colds and flus. Bryan gave me the recipe and after I made it—using echinacea and lemon balm I grew in my garden—I was surprised to find it tastes quite a bit like bitters you might add to a cocktail! Like many old-time remedies, it is alcohol-based. Bryan recommends you swallow a tablespoon or two whenever you feel a cold coming on.
Therapeutic Citrus Tonic
The quantities for this recipe vary according to the size jar you are going to use, so you'll have to play it by ear.
- — dried echinacea blossoms, linden blossoms, lemon balm
- — organic lemons, limes and oranges
- — local honey
- — vodka
Scrub the citrus clean and slice it thinly. Make a layer of each and then a layer of the herbs, and alternate this way until your jar is 3/4 full. Then add some honey (I used about 1/2 cup for a liter jar) and fill the jar up with vodka. Put the lid on and shake well. Put in a cool, dark place and stir or shake about once a day. After 2 weeks, open the jar, stir contents well and then strain out the solids. Replace liquid in a clean jar and refrigerate.
Take a tablespoon on its own as a tonic, add it to hot tea or even use a teaspoon in a cocktail in place of bitters. I also love it mixed with gin or vodka over ice.