Are You Ready for Winter? Part 1
Here come the colder, darker, often sicker, days of the year. Are you ready?
Before Halloween — the beginning of winter (Solstice is the midpoint) — I check my supplies and make any remedies I will need, while there are still green herbs. Soon the plants take a winter rest; time to harvest.
Colds, coughs, flu, stuffy and runny noses, and fevers are the most common winter miseries. To counter and deal with them, I need anti-infective, anti-viral, soothing, and immune enhancing herbs.
A mainstay of preparedness is having plenty of anti-infective herbal remedies on hand to prevent and treat colds, flu, and fevers. Two of my favorites are echinacea and yarrow. I also use Phytolacca (poke).
Yarrow is best tinctured in the summers, while in full flower. I never make this remedy with dried herb; it is too bitter and too harsh for me. But yarrow doesn't mind frost, and an excellent anti-infective tincture can be made with the large leaves available now. Herbalist Gretchen Gould prefers the autumn leaves when making yarrow oil. Fill a jar with well-chopped leaves. Add 100 proof vodka right to the top. Lid and label.
Echinacea roots can be dug after the first frosts and promptly tinctured. And dried Echinacea augustifolia roots can be tinctured anytime. I buy a pound of dried root and make four quarts of tincture, spaced about three months apart. I find tinctures from dried roots are best after sitting for at least twelve months.
Put a quarter pound (four ounces) of dried echinacea root in a quart jar. Fill to the top with 100 proof vodka. Lid and label. Three months later, when you can start using the tincture, make another quart. Repeat until you have four quarts of echinacea tincture, each made at a different time. Although this may seem like a LOT of tincture, it isn't, since doses are large and frequent.
Poisons are used as anti-infectives. The two most often used are goldenseal and poke. I never use goldenseal. I do, make and use poke root tincture. Dig the root after several frosts. (They are so big you will only need one.) I often make this tincture in early December. Fill your jar with well-chopped root and then 100 proof vodka. Ready to use —by the single drop — in six weeks.