Plants to Love

~At Apothecary Tinctura~

By guest blogger Kristin Furjanic

How often have you utilized plants as a medicinal alternative? As a product of the Midwest, Western Medicine was always the answer growing up. If you had a cough, we drank Robitussin, a sore throat – gargle Benzydamine. The move out west (in conjunction with Yoga Teacher Training) opened me up to a variety of alternative medicines and modalities for the mind, body and spirit. And while, yes, certain prescription drugs are necessary sometimes, an herbal approach is also a good substitute.

I found Dabble’s Introduction to Herbal Alchemy class at Apothecary Tinctura intriguing because I had briefly read about plant-based medicines and teas in blogs and online, but needed to see it in action. I was interested in how they could be made accessible and applied to everyday life.

Unbeknownst to many people, plants and herbs possess an array of healing properties; herbal medicine has been used by many different cultures throughout the world to treat illness, as well as assist proper bodily functions.

While ‘herbalism’ can be described as the use of plants as medicine, Merriam-Webster defines Alchemy as a “chemical science” or …

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“A power or process of transforming something common into something special” – I think that explains it perfectly. How else would you describe turning a few dried herbs or plants into a nourishing elixir that helps combat illness? After the class, I came to see the underlying framework of herbal alchemy as something like this:

Basic Chemistry:

  1. Utilize a Base (for blending) – Nettles, Oatstraw, Raspberry, Rosehips, etc. 
  2. Establish a Goal (nourishment, healing, calming and relaxation, energy and focus, etc.)
  3. Create an Experience

Amanda at Apothecary Tinctura led the class and explained these processes in depth, and with a dose of wit. She was educated, funny, relatable – and above all things – passionate about her craft. She showed us how to make Elderberry Syrup (see recipe below), and explained the multitude of benefits for most of the herbs on the shelves.

For example, did you know that some honeys (Manuka honey, in particular) have profound effects on the healing of wounds? One of its greatest features is its ability to release hydrogen peroxide, which is essential for eliminating bacterial activity. Also, the pollen (collected from the Manuka bush, and transformed into honey) has been known to effectively treat serious infections, ranging from skin rashes, to boils, and scalded skin. Important: Do not attempt to use regular raw honey as an option for wound care (Advanced Tissue, 2014).

Although there are a variety of preparations, syrups tend to be the most palatable, and versatile of all herbal preparations. Apothecary Tinctura describes them as concentrated extracts made into sweet medicine with the addition of honey, sugar or fruit juice (maple syrup or vegetable glycerin can be substituted for honey, especially when using for children under the age of two).

Elderberry Syrup

  • 3-4 Cups of Water
  • 1 Cup Elderberries
  • ½ Cup Rosehips
  • ¼ Cup Cinnamon (this acts as a warming astringent)
  • 1 Vanilla Bean (scored)
  • Simmer covered for 20 minutes, strain and return liquid pan
  • Let sit 30-40 minutes to cool down
  • Simmer uncovered for another 30-45 minutes to reduce liquid by half (2-2 ½ cups)
  • Add ½ – 1 Cup of Honey
  • Bottle and cool before sealing

Optional Add-ins:

  • 2 oz. Elderberry tincture can be added as a preservative
  • 20 Cardamom pods (digestive)
  • 20 Cloves

Ultimately, if you’re remotely interested in herbal alchemy – I highly recommend this class. Apothecary Tinctura is an ultra-calming space – they offered me hot tea upon arrival, which was a perfect complement to the cold, rainy day I was experiencing. Their knowledgeable staff can help you find whatever you need; they sell in bulk, which can help bring down high costs (although some herbs are more expensive than others).

My overall experience was one of relief, relaxation, and pleasure. I learned a lot, and cannot wait to experiment further!

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Kristin is a Digital / Content Specialist, freelance blogger / brand manager, yoga nerd, and night owl. She loves exploring the outdoors, surfing the web, and painting accent walls in apartments she doesn’t own.

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