Making herbal honeys and elixirs

Making your own herbal medicines is ridiculously easy, and a nice little pharmacopeia can usually be put together from plants that you can find around where you live. A few of my favourite gentle herbs to make medicines with are the following:

Holly-leaf cherry

Cherry: Blossoms and bark. Use the most fragrant ones you can find– they should smell slightly sweet, slightly almondy. Usually the wild cherries are much better for this. All species usually work very similarly– I use Prunus ilicifolia (holly-leafed cherry) which grows wild around here. Most people use choke-cherry which grows wild everywhere else. It relieves cough. Relieves pressure in the chest. It can be unbelievably relaxing– enough to knock you out, so don’t try it for the first time before driving. It’s a fantastic heart tonic for people with heart problems. And is fantastic for anxiety. Keep in mind that this herb is fantastic for heat issues. If the symptoms present are all cold symptoms, try ginger or something warming.

Elder: Hands down my favourite herb for flu season. I have not had a full-blown flu since I started making my own elixir. I use a combination of berries and flowers (70% berries, 30% flowers). Elder helps your immune system to work harder and smarter. It is also fantastic for infections.

Ginger: Stomach soother, nausea reliever. Fantastic in any kind of cold situations, where digestion is poor, or where there’s lots of mucus. Don’t use if there are heat symptoms present– it’s easy to tell: if your headache feels better when  you put a cold towel on it, try peach or cherry instead. If the thought of cold is repugnant to you, try ginger.

Lemon Balm (melissa officinalis): Melissa is a fantastic anxiety-reliever. A few drops of the elixir before bed helps to relieve that “I can’t sleep because I can’t stop thinking and stressing out” feeling. It lightens the load on the heart, emotionally speaking.

Peach: Twigs, pits (undamaged), flowers. One of my favourite plants for nausea. I get nausea a lot, but ginger is WAY too heating for me. Peach elixir works wonders, and fast. It’s also fantastic for both constipation and diarrhea. A relaxing, divine smelling nervine that, when needed, can actually put people to sleep :) .

Rose (all spp. use the most fragrant one you can find): Clears heat from the upper body. Anti-inflammatory. Astringent. I use it when my nerves are a bit agitated (or inflamed), like after being stuck in LA traffic for hours. It relieves that kind of stress that gets stuck in your heart and makes everything feel constricted and tight. It’s good in situations where inflammation occurs unnecessarily– whether that’s emotional (anger flaring up) or physical (immune reactions, rashes, joints swollen and sore). I use the elixir for almost everything. The honey tastes delicious and is lovely in herbal teas or on yogurt or on toast.

Sage (garden sage (salvia officinalis), though almost all spp. can be used– I use salvia melitus, salvia clevelandii, salvia officinalis, and salvia apiana): A deeply nourishing restorative nervine. When your fried nerves are fried to the point of exhaustion. When your heat is burning up your body fluids. Sage helps you to conserve fluids, resores nerves, and calms the spirit. It can stop excessive menstrual bleeding, and also stimulate menses. Works fantastically WITH rose elixir, to both calm and nourish.

Thyme: Another one of my favourite herbs to use come flu-season. Thyme works fantastically for coughs with thin white phlegm. It promotes sweating, reduces fever, and opens the sinuses. It also stimulates and harmonises digestion.

Herbal Honeys:

1 clean (sterilised) pint jar with a lid

enough herb to stuff the jar full

1 pint of honey (try to use a local raw honey– it’ll greatly add to the therapeutic effects. If you’re in Southern California, I get mine from Pacifica Honey).

Chop the herbs up into small pieces. Stuff them into the jar, leaving an inch of space at the top. When you can’t fit any more herbs in, start pouring in the honey. I pour it, then slide a chopstick around the edge to let it sink down, and then go do something for five minutes or so, and keep doing that until it’s full. Once the herbs are covered with honey, put the lid on it, label it, and leave it somewhere cool and dark for 4 weeks. When it’s done, hang a cheesecloth over another jar, pour the herby honey into it, and wait– it’ll eventually strain out into the jar. Depending on what herb you use, it can add the most wonderful nuance to dishes. Sage, beebalm and thyme honeys on chicken. Rose honey on fruit. The possibilities really are endless.

Cherry, thyme, and hawthorne.


Herbal Elixirs:

This is my preferred method for making medicines. Maybe that’s just because I love brandy and honey…

1 clean (sterilised) pint jar with a lid

enough herb to stuff the jar full

3/4 pint brandy (or higher percentage alcohol, which is preferred by most people, I think)

1/4 pint honey

As before, chop the herbs up and stuff them into the jar, leaving an inch of space at the top, until they can no longer be stuffed anymore. Pour in the brandy until it’s half-filled, and then fill the rest up with honey (you might have to pour it and wait, repeatedly, until the honey sinks down enough). Screw on the lid, label, and place somewhere cool and dark for 4 weeks, giving it a shake every few days, to mix up the brandy and honey. After 4 weeks, strain into a clean bottle (I use bottles with droppers, so that I can administer 5 drops without over-doing it).



20 Responses to “Making herbal honeys and elixirs”
  1. stacie says:

    Do you use dry herbs? That would be the only thing I have so how much dried herb would I use?

  2. Ofelia says:

    can I use Cognac instead of Brandy ??

  3. Sam says:

    Is there anything else that can be used to make elixirs besides drinkable alcohol? Wondering from being a recovering alcoholic if there is anything less triggering I could possibly use.

    • Olena says:

      Hi Sam,
      Yes, you can use Apple Cider Vinegar. I have done many elixirs with this, and it works exceptionally not just for recovering alcoholics, but people in general who are sensitive to alcohol as well as children. Good luck.

  4. Alice says:

    Hello, I’m brand new to the world of medicinal herbs, and earlier today I checked out a book at my local library about elixirs, tonics, and teas. Often in the recipies, they use “dropper”, as in “2 droppers Ginkgo biloba”. At first I assumed they meant an eye dropper, but then I wasn’t sure if that implied I was supposed to mash up the herbs or what exactly I was supposed to do. Could somebody help me please? Thank you! :)

  5. Nancy says:


    Have you ever made an herbal elixir that you can serve more as a shot rather than a few drops? And if so, what would be the ratio or amount of brandy to honey – ???

    Blessings and Thank you!

  6. Kelly Grace says:

    Just a little info on Honey Pacifica…..Not as pure as you’re hoping it is. They use antibiotics, even tho they say on their site that they practice organic beekeeping. If you live in so cal, there are so many beekeepers that keep bees without using any chemicals, antibiotics, or additives of any kind. They let bees be bees, and let them do their thing like they have been doing for a long long time. Check out the Backwards Beekeepers website. They practice a very hands-off approach to beekeeping, and their bees are thriving. They have free meetings once a month, and usually folks bring their completely untreated honey to sell. And it is amazing. I just set up my own hive, and have not yet collected any honey. But I have done research. There is a lot of honey sellers out there who are not doing the best service to the bees. Just sayin….

  7. Katie says:

    Hello, is the honey necessary for the elixers? Or just for flavor? Thank you!

  8. Ivy says:


    What does this elixir do for people?

  9. L says:

    Can I use vodka instead?

    • Jacob Falk says:

      I myself make loads of different shots and elixirs with herbs flowers and what not. I would personally go for vodka (40% gives the best result) since it has a neutral taste and it would be a shame to change the taste of a decent brandy

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  11. Hawke says:

    Hi Nancy,

    My mothers boyfriend is an alcoholic, or so I say, according to him he needs the alcohol to fall asleep at night, my mom supports this theory. When I suggested sleeping medication I was told that sleeping pills don’t work for him and have adverse affects because of his gout (yes he has gout too, I blame it on the alcohol) so I’d like to know what kind of herbal shooter I can invent for him that’ll be strong enough, alcohol-wise, to satisfy his need for alcohol but will also quickly knock him out cold.
    Please, my mom kinda needs this, he gets somewhat difficult sometimes when he drinks.

    Thank you for your time.

    • Jacob Falk says:

      Hi there hawke, I know what some people here in Denmark use when getting rid of some causes of alchoholism. Hypericum perforatum aka. St John’s wort. combined with Artemisia maritima (very small amounts (think absinthe) how this works with alchohol

      Take a 2 pint jar (this is assumption it should equal 1000 ml/cc give or take) add 2 branches of 5-7 inch length of semi or fully dried Artemisia maritima (aka. sea worm wood) then add 2 large handfuls of dried or fresh St. Johns Wort flowers (fresh are the best, especially if not yet opened) add 1 bottle of 40% vol. vodka or other neutral spirits. After 2 days remove the 2 worm wood branches and leave to rest for 4-8 weeks with flowers still in(8 weeks work the best). Now strain the mixture through a very fine piece of cloth placed in a strainer. Here comes the important part.

      Dilute the mixture 1 part mixture with 3 parts of the same vodka used to make the mixture, and set aside for 2 weeks to let the fluids mix perfectly and round the taste off.

      Note*. The first 48 hours while the sea worm wood is still in, you should place the jar in a sunlit windowsill. After this it should be placed in a dark place at room temp.

      Note** If you want it to have a sleep inducing effect also add 2 handfuls of dried chamomile flowers for the same amount of time as the St. John´s Wort flowers this also accompanies the taste and roundness of the other ingredients

      Why does this often work?

      Answer to that is. Since both St. John´s Wort and Sea Worm wood work as anti depressives they can help the (in this case alchoholic) to feel happier and more complete. I can say that my wife is a St. John´s Wort consumer, and her depression has been brought down ALOT, she does used dried extrat in capsules but it shouldn´t matter one bit.

      I really hope that this helps your mother and her boyfriend, maybe your mother should take 1 shot every night as well before bedtime. Sounds like she is experiencing loads of stress which can lead to depression.

      Best of luck

      kind Regards

  12. andreea says:

    About the herbal elixir – It mentions 3/4 pint brandy, 1/4 pint honey… but then the instructions say fill halfway up the jar with brandy, and remaining half with honey, which suggests they are in equal amounts. Is the ratio of brandy to honey 3:1 or 1:1? Looking forward to making this – thanks!

  13. mike says:

    can i use a really good rum instead?

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