Category Archives: Pastilles, Lozenges and Pills

Peppermint Pine Cough Drops

I was making pine syrup today, listening to the boys hacking away in the next room. They have a cold that came with a lingering cough which is resisting all of the chest rub and steaming.  While I am not a huge fan of sugar, on occasion I admit that a cough drop is a good way to get extra herbs into them so I went ahead and made these up. Even Riley admitted that they are quite tasty, although she did mention it might be better to cut them into uniform rectangles while they are still warm.

While I certainly wouldn’t suggest this as your only line of defense, the ingredients can supplement a more comprehensive regimen. Pine infusions, when made properly-simmered in a tightly covered pan-retain the sesqiterpene lactones present in the needles which have a broadly anti-microbial effect like most essential oils. White Pine also has a fair amount of both Vitamin A & C. Peppermint oil has been inhaled as a remedy for upper respiratory distress since the days of the Greek physicians.

IMG_5433Homemade Peppermint Pine Cough Drops.

Line and 8 X 8 square glass baking dish with waxed paper.

2 cups pine infusion
2 cups organic evaporated cane juice
5-8 drops peppermint essential oil (food grade) or 1 tsp peppermint extract

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan dissolve sugar in pine infusion and bring to a boil.   Let this boil until it reaches hard crack stage on a candy thermometer.  Add peppermint.   Pour this mixture into the glass baking dish and allow to cool.  Turn it out of the pan and break it into small pieces.

Herbal Pastilles

Herbal PastillesIt is a basic tenant of physiology that digestion begins as soon as your body gets its first taste of a food.  The taste  of substance stimulates your digestion and other physiological reactions, which according to many healing traditions accounts for some actions herbs have in our bodies.   Given the state of digestion that the SAD diet generally leads to, I think it is a bad idea to use a pill to further muck up the process.  Yes, another reason that I don’t really care for capsules.
To circumvent this issue, I’ve turned to making herbal pastilles. Herbal pastilles can be made tastily enough that a fair amount of an herbs can be ingested and digested the way nature intended,  in a way that isn’t terrible. I also use them when a sore throat or a cough crops up, because they can be sucked on like a lozenge.

Basic Preparation Method

  • Mix dry powders together in a bowl.
  • Mix together equal amounts of sweetener and liquid and slowly drizzle this into the mixture, mixing and kneading as you go.  The final consistency should be smooth and pliable.
  • Roll into logs and slice.
  • Roll  the slices  carob, cacao, or  powdered cinnamon  for a nice finishing touch.

Honey or maple syrup are your best choices for sweeteners.   You could add stevia powder and skip the sweetener altogether but  I think  “sticky”  helps a bit with the process.  I prefer honey because of its preservative qualities.    But you should not give honey to a child under the age of one, so maple syrup works as a substitute.

Liquids that can be used include: elixirs, tinctures, infusions, decoctions or water.   For example, I generally use my wild cherry elixir in something I am  mixing up to soothe a cough or a sore throat.

Some people add flavoring oils such as peppermint extract or lemon extract.  I tend to flavor mine by using elixirs and flavored honey when I mix them, so I skip this step.

The  rule of thumb for playing around with your own formulations is that you should use 1 part demulcent herb as a base. Marshmallow root powder or natural pectin powder will work in this capacity.   I make homemade pectin every year that I can dry and powder for this purpose. Then you can add any sort of powdered herbs to the mix.

I don’t generally buy powders of aerial parts of plants, those are easily powdered. I will say that powdering barks and roots finely and consistently is a pain, so I just buy them.  Here are a couple of sample formulas, in both cases, I would use honey that I have infused with thyme or sage  and a little wild cherry elixir as part of the liquid.

Pastilles for a Cough or Sore Throat

1 part pectin powder
1 part licorice root  (licorice root should be harvested when young and green)
1/2 part powdered dry sage

Horehound Cough Drops

1 part marshmallow root
1 part licorice root
¼ part powdered peppermint or spearmint
¼ part powdered horehound

I’d like to give you more precise measurements than that, but it just doesn’t work that way.  It is all very hands on and depends a lot on the temperature, the humidity, how dry your herbs are, etc…  It is very trial-and-error.   Reminds me a lot of the way Grandma makes her pie dough- kneading in a few sprinkles at a time until the dough is “just right”.

Once they are done, I dehydrate them.  If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can leave them in a warm oven, over night.    I don’t make huge batches and these can be stored in bags, for at least a season.