It 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.