HearthBeats: Recipes from a Kitchen Witch

Merry meet all… This month I will be focusing this article on herbalism; recipes for health and healing. Herbal medicine is the medicine of the people. It is simple, safe, effective, and free. Our ancestors used plant medicines for healing and health maintenance. It’s easy. You can do it and you don’t need a degree or any special training.

Most of us have the ability to begin the healing process already in our homes. There are some other things we may need to stock up in order to have them when we need them. Much of what we will need can be grown and dried either over the growing season or even in our homes. If you looked at last months herbal list you will have seen that many of the herbs you use for cooking can be used for healing as well as aromatherapy.

What you can do is create your own herbal medicine cabinet, either in you ritual space or better yet in your kitchen.  It’s easy to make your own Herbal Medicine Cabinet. You can customize it to fit your needs and those of your family. Ideally you should make it your own, by putting magickal symbols on it, put pictures of herbs on the door, runes, Egyptian symbols, whatever…you can decorate it any way you like. But in reality we know that having that in our kitchen could be a problem…so what you can do is use a white birthday type candle to draw any symbols you may want on the cabinet door…so that you have magickally charges and protected it but it is not visible to the mundane eye.

You don’t need a huge assortment of herbs…only the ones that you will use most often.
Keep herbs in your medicine cabinet that your family will need.

There are a few basic items that all Herbal Medicine Cabinet’s need:

Standard ingredients for making your herbal remedies:

Oil (extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, or safflower oil) for herbal
infusions and salves.
Beeswax (a good quality beeswax) for making salves
Honey or sugar to sweeten bitter herbs and syrups
Vodka or alcohol for tinctures

Petroleum jelly or a good quality skin lotion for making ointments
Essential oils

Gauze pads
Cotton balls

Bandage tape

The above is just a very basic list, you can add or subtract to fit your needs.

The following are some herbal remedies and how to make them, please consult your Doctor before you use these, unless you know your families allergies and herbal reactions.

WARNING: PREGNANCY (all herbs and their essential oils should be avoided unless under the supervision of a medical professional): the list is not all inclusive, but some specific herbs to avoid are: Balsam pear, barberry root bark, black cohosh, cascara sagrada, chervil, Chinese angelica, coltsfoot, comfrey, dong quai,feverfew, ginseng, goldenseal, juniper berries, ma huang , may apple , mountain mint, mugwort, pennyroyal, pokeroot, rue, senna , southernwood, tansy, wormwood, yarrow.

Ointments/Salves can be made quickly and easily if you first prepare an oil of the herb while it is in season and keep it on the shelf for later use as an ointment. Simply strain and store the oil. Besides simple oils which employ only one herb, a combination of herbs can be used to make a compound oil of your favorite ointment recipe and used later to make the ointment itself

How to Make It


(Used when volatile oils are not required from the plant material as these are boiled away in the process).


1 oz of herb to 1 pint water; bring water to a rolling boil, then add herbs and cover; reduce heat; let mixture simmer for 20 to 30 min over low heat.


1. (Based on 3 cups of water reduced to 2 cups). After making the first decoction using 3 cups water reduced to 2 cups, drain off the liquid and reserve; add two more cups of water to the original herbs and simmer down to 1 cup; add the 1 cup to the first 2 cups for a total of 3 cups.

2. 1 oz plant material to 2-1/2 cups water (makes 1 pint); soak herbs in water for 10 min then boil and simmer 10 to 15 min; leave to soak another 10 min; keep covered throughout the process; strain, cool and use.

Extract, Fresh:

First find the water content of your fresh plant specimen. Weigh 2 oz of the fresh herb and then dry it using the microwave or a dehydrator. Weigh the now dried specimen. Figure the percentage of weight lost in the drying to find the percentage of water contained in the fresh herb. Count this percentage as water when figuring the water/alcohol solvent ratio in the first oz of finished product. All remaining ounces can be figured at the usual 50/50 water/alcohol rate


The same as making a tea, but steeped longer. Usually 10 minutes.

Juice, Herb:

When attempting to obtain juice from dry herbs, soak in twice their weight of water for 24 hours and then press out the fluid.


The same as making a cream only use more water.

Lotion, Quick:

Mix 2 parts herb water with one part vegetable glycerin or combine herbal infusion with glycerin.

Do NOT store any plant material in oil since botulism can occur under these conditions.

Oil, Herb:

Infuse powdered herbs in warm olive oil in double boiler for several hours. Strain through muslin and keep straining till all bits of plant material are strained out of the oil.

Oils, Medicated: Ayurvededic method:

1 part herb to 16 parts water and 4 parts of oil (ie. 1 oz herb, 2 cups water, 1/2 cup oil); decoct until all the water is evaporated then strain OR decoct the herb in water alone, then strain and add the oil and continue with the decoction until only the oil remains..

FRESH oils: Crush and mash the whole herb (ie. grated ginger, garlic, onions, etc)

and allow to stand overnight in oil; squeeze through muslin to strain.

Ointment, Quick: Add 1/2 to 1 tsp of tincture to each ounce of commercial skin lotion.

Fresh herbs: Grind and mash.

DRY herbs: Add a little water and work into a paste; may be taken as is or mixed with honey or oil. If using oil, keep refrigerated; if honey, will keep without refrigeration.

Non-petroleum Jelly: 1 oz beeswax, 1/2 cup baby or mineral oil or sweet almond or olive oil; melt together in the top of a double boiler. Pour out into suitable container and allow to set up.


Herbs can be powdered in a coffee mill. If you’ll be be doing much work with herbs, you should have one especially for powdering herbs.

Preserving Flowers: If you are unable to process your flowers (ie. elder, rose) immediately, you can either pack them (don’t crush) into wide-mouthed canning jars and then pour glycerine over the flowers until they’re covered. Cap the jar. Or you can pack them in 1/3 of their weight of salt. This method is usually employed when preserving flowers to use in fresh sachets or potpourris.

Salves & Ointments

1. Place about 1/2″ of water in the bottom of an electric skillet to protect its finish. Add herbs and oil to a pyrex bowl or top of double boiler and place in center of skillet. Fiddle with control of skillet until oil measures a steady 95º F on a cooking thermometer. Allow to simmer gently at this heat for about 12 hours or until the herbs look “used up”. Strain herbs out of the oil and return oil to a clean bowl or double boiler pan and set back in the skillet; raise heat to 150° F and add grated beeswax. Allow beeswax to melt, stirring well. Test by dropping a small amount on a saucer and when desired texture is reached pour into wide-mouth jar suitable for ointment/salve.

2. Boil herbs in water until sufficiently extracted; strain; add oil to the decoction and continue to simmer till all the water evaporates; add sufficient beeswax until desired consistency is reached (melt about 2 oz of wax to 5 oz of oil); to preserve you can add 1 drop tincture of benzoin per each ounce of mixture or 1 drop grapefruit seed extract per ounce of mixture.

3. Beeswax, oil, fats; Vaseline can be combined with herbs or tinctures.

Place 2 oz of dried herbs into a pint of oil then heat gently for 1 hour; strain and cool for an ointment. For a salve add 1 oz beeswax or Vaseline then stir well as it thickens and store in a jar. Store in refrigerator or preserve with tincture of benzoin or grapefruit seed extract (1 drop per oz of mixture for both)

4. Grind dried herbs to powder and cover with olive oil; steep for 2 weeks shaking gently daily; strain through muslin (at this stage it is a liniment/ointment); add beeswax to thicken (now it’s a salve). Store in refrigerator


1. 2 lbs sugar, 1 pint water. Dissolve sugar in water over low heat. Raise the temp to the boiling point and strain the solution while it is hot. Add enough extra water through the strainer to make the syrup measure 2-1/2 pints.

2. Dissolve 3 lbs of brown sugar in a pint of boiling water and boil until thick. Add any herbs you wish to this to make a herbal syrup.

3. : Pour 1-1/4 cups of boiling water onto 3 oz of crushed herbs and leave to get cold. Strain the infusion and then heat until it is warm and then add 1/2 cup of sugar.

When the sugar has dissolved, bring the mixture to a boil and gently simmer until it is a syrup consistency. Allow to cool a bit before bottling.

A rule of thumb for making tinctures using dried herbs is a 1 to 8 ratio (ie. 1 oz powdered herbs to 8 oz of 100% proof vodka)

Tincture: Combine 1 to 4 oz of powdered or crushed herb with 8 to 12 oz of 100 proof alcohol (vodka can be obtained cheaply and works well); shake thoroughly and allow to stand in a warm place for 2 weeks; shake daily; strain and bottle in a dark container such as a dark brown dropper bottle. Take 1 to 30 drops according to the herb used.


Crush fresh or dried herbs and simmer with fat of your choice (i.e. lard, olive oil, safflower oil, etc). Simmer on top of stove in top of double boiler for several hours. Or, they may be baked in the oven for several hours in the fat using a low heat. Strain and place back on heat, then melt beeswax in it. Pour into jar.


This lotion is useful for skin inflammations and for those with possible bacterial complications.

Combine 1 tbsp each of Chamomile, Comfrey, Chickweed, and Calendula in a mason jar. Over this pour 2 cups boiling hot water; cover and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain and place in a spritzer bottle. Add 1 dropper full of Echinacea extract. Spritz as needed.

Or Comfrey, chickweed, and Calendula add   8 to 9 oz of sweet almond oil (or olive oil or combo of the two)

¼ oz (approx) of grated beeswax

800 IU vitamin E to it and make it a thick lotion.

Place all in a double boiler and melt together, pour into lotion bottle or screw top container.


Good first aid for cuts, nicks, bites and scratches, itches and rashes.

2 oz fresh chickweed

1 pint olive or sweet almond oil

½ oz beeswax

in ovenproof container combine Chickweed and oil.

Place in 150°F oven for 3 hours; strain and add ½ oz melted beeswax to oil

(Always melt waxes in top of double boiler to avoid fire); stir as mixture thickens.


4 oz. herbs of choice

6 oz. cocoa butter (vegetable oil can be substituted)

1 oz. beeswax

Melt cocoa butter in top of double boiler with beeswax.

Add herbs and allow to heat through in double boiler over very low heat for a minimum of 30 minutes. Strain out herbs.


Combine some wheat germ oil and honey and apply to sore, bruise or wound.

Tinctures of Comfrey, Calendula, St. Johnswort or Mullein can be added (between 5 and 15 drops) to the oil and honey.


Contains antiseptic and healing properties good for chapped hands, chafes, dandruff, tender feet, spots on the chest, arms, back and legs and pains in the joints and muscles, Apply a piece of clean cotton or gauzy type material to wounds after all dirt is washed away. For aches and pains rub the affected part well and then cover with cloth; repeat 2 or 3 times.

12 oz elder oil

2 oz beeswax

2 tsps eucalyptus oil

20 drops wintergreen oil

Combine elder oil and wax in top of double boiler over low heat until wax melts; remove from heat and stir in remaining 2 oils. Pour into appropriate containers.



25 drops essential oil of lavender

10 drops essential oil of lemon

5 drops essential oil of thyme

2 tbsp oil of lavender (which is prepared by infusing flowers in olive oil)

60 g beeswax

Melt beeswax in top of double boiler, then beat in oil of lavender.

As ointment begins to cool, add the essential oils and continue to beat till cool.

Store in covered jar in refrigerator.


Good for chapped lips, skin and cold sores.

4 tbsp olive or almond oil

3 to 4 tbsp beeswax

3 tsp cocoa butter

10 drops vitamin E oil

15 drops lavender oil

15 drops sandalwood oil

Combine olive or almond oil, beeswax, cocoa butter and lanolin and heat in top of double boiler.

Remove from heat and add vitamin E (a 400 IU capsule can be opened and contents squeezed out), lavender and sandalwood oils and beat well. Pour into little jars and allow to cool before putting on lids.



Good antiseptic properties and soothing to skin problems.

2 oz oil

½ oz beeswax

5 drops lavender oil

3 drops tea tree oil

400 IU vitamin E

Combine oil and beeswax in top of double boiler over low heat till wax melts.

Remove from heat and add lavender and tea tree oils.

Snip vitamin E capsule open and squeeze contents into oils.

Place in ointment jar and allow to setup before capping.


Good for chapped lips, cold sores and chapped skin.

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage leaves

2 tbsp sweet violets

4 tbsp sweet almond oil

Combine ingredients in a small stoppered bottle.

Leave in a warm place for 1 month, shaking daily.

Strain into a bowl and add 4 tbsp each of almond oil and melted beeswax which

have been melted together in the top of a double boiler.

Beat until cold.

Store in an airtight jar in a cool place.

Herbal Healing Salve 1

Recipe by Mountain Rose Herbs

This all-purpose salve recipe is perfect for minor scrapes, cuts, bug bites, or other skin irritations.  The herbs may be adapted for different skin conditions and ailments as desired, and the amount of beeswax can be easily altered.  Use less beeswax if you desire a softer balm or live in a cold climate, and use more beeswax if you prefer a harder salve or reside in a warm climate.

Herbal Healing Salve 2

Yield 4 oz

1 oz Calendula infused oil
1 oz Comfrey infused oil
1 oz St. John’s Wort infused oil
1 oz Plantain infused oil
10 drops Vitamin E Oil
20 drops Lavender Essential Oil
½ oz Beeswax (Carnauba or Candelilla Wax may be used for a Vegan salve)
Glass Jars or Tin Containers

Place Herbal Infused Oils and Beeswax over a double boiler, and gently heat until the Beeswax melts.  Remove from heat and add Lavender Essential Oil and Vitamin E Oil.  Quickly pour into prepared tins or glass jars and allow to cool completely.  The salve will last for at least a year, and is best if kept in a cool and dark area such as a cupboard or cabinet.

1 oz dried comfrey leaves
1 oz dried calendula flowers
2 cups olive oil
1 oz pure beeswax
4 drops tea tree
4 drops lavender essential oils
1 400 vitamin E
Heat herbs in olive oil over low heat for about 5 hours. Do not let the oil boil or bubble. A Crock-Pot or the lowest temperature setting on a range should be suitable for heating this mixture. (If the lowest setting is too hot, turn off the heat once it has warmed the oil…it should keep warm for at least and hour….then repeat the process twice.)
After cooking, strain out the herbs while oil is still warm.
Place 1 1/4 cups of the herb oil in a pan, add beeswax and heat just enough to melt the wax.
Add essential oil and stir.
Finally, pour the salve into wide mouthed jars.
Store at room temperature.
Use for minor scrapes and cuts, to protect and promote healing.

Vapor Rub

¼ teaspoon eucalyptus essential oil

1/8 teaspoon each peppermint and thyme essential oils

¼ cup olive oil (or Vaseline at which opoint you would spoon blend instead of shake together)

Combine ingredients in a glass bottle. Shake well.

Gently massage onto chest and throat.


You must make a syrup with sugar, not honey to make cough drops, but you can use raw sugar or brown sugar instead of white sugar and it will work just as well.

Instead of pouring your boiling hot syrup into a bottle, keep boiling it. Every minute or so, drop a bit into cold water, when it forms a hard ball in the cold water, immediately turn off the fire. Pour your very thick syrup into a buttered flat dish. Cool, and then cut into small squares.
A dusting of powdered sugar will keep them from sticking.
Store airtight in a cool place.

Herbal Cough Syrup

Cover the bottom of a Crockpot with either Wild Cherry Bark or Violet leaves and flowers|
Cover entirely with honey.
Set on low heat for two days and stir occasionally.

Hyssop Cough Syrup

Licorice flavored, soothes sore throats.
2 tbsp dried hyssop (flower tops) or 1/3 cup fresh hyssop (chopped flowers)
1/4 cup water
1 cup honey
1 tsp aniseed

In a saucepan combine honey and water. Stir until the mixture is consistency
of pancake syrup. Bring slowly to a boil (over a medium heat). Skim off any
scum that rises to the surface.

Use 1-2 tbsp water to moisten the dried hyssop. Crush the aniseed. Stir both
into the honey. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove from
heat, uncover, and allow to cool. While the mixture is still a little warm,
strain into a jar. When completely cooled, screw on the lid. Should keep for
1 week.

Wild Cherry Cough Syrup

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar (scant)
1 tsp wild cherry bark
1 1/2 to 2 1/2 tsp chopped dried marshmallow root

Make a decoction of the cherry bark and marshmallow root. (Boil in water for
about 4 minutes. Steep the mixture with the cover on the pot for a few
minutes.) Slowly stir in the sugar and cream of tartar, simmer until the
mixture becomes thick and sugar granules completely dissolve. Transfer to a
container and allow to cool before covering tightly.
Herbal-C Syrup

6 cups water

3 tablespoons elderberries

2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds or cranberries

2 tablespoons rose hips

1 tablespoon pine or cedar tree needles

1 tablespoon lemongrass

Cook this down to three cups and add:

One half cup molasses

One half cup honey

One half cup fruit concentrate

This is wonderful tasting syrup to take as a tonic during cold and flu season.

Herbal Pain Killers:
Caution: As with all herbal remedies, check to make sure they will not interfere with doctor prescribed medications. This information is to be used wisely. Do not take any herb you are allergic to, and see your doctor if problem persists.

Pain killer-
Soak 1/2 teaspoon of dried willow bark in 2 cups cold water overnight,Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Strain, cool, and bottle.
The dosage is 1/4 cup, to be sipped slowly as needed for pain. It can be added to juices or teas if you wish.

Good Sedative –
Mix together 1 tablespoon each of bee balm, hops, peppermint, chamomile, and crushed fennel seed.
Add 1 tablespoon of the mixture to 1 cup boiling water.
Steep 10 minutes and strain. Sweeten with honey.
Drink 1/2 hour before bedtime.

Mild Sedative –
Pour 1 pint of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of dried catnip.
Cover and steep until cool. Flavor if desired. Strain and sweeten.
For children, give 1 tablespoon; adults get 2 tablespoons.

For trouble getting to sleep –
Pour 1 pint of boiling water over 1 ounce of feverfew flowers.
Cover and steep until cool.
Strain and sweeten with honey.
Drink cool.

To induce sleep –

Mix 2 tablespoons dried peppermint with 1 tablespoon each of rosemary and sage.
This really soothes the nerves and allows you to relax enough to go to sleep

Sprain and Aching Muscles Treatment –
Mix together 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup of linseed oil, and 4 tablespoons witch hazel.
Use as a massage oil.

Sedative Tincture –
Place 1-1/2 ounces of chamomile and 1-1/2 teaspoons of powdered peppermint into 1/2 quart of vodka. Allow to steep for 2 weeks, shaking daily.  Strain and bottle. Use as a sedative for adults. Dosage is 1/2 dropper full under the tongue as needed..

Well I have to say that the research for this article was amazing.. as well as adding to my recipe book of food and medications.. I certainly hope that you find it fun, usefully and tasty. Please be aware that I have shared both my own recipes and recipes borrowed from books and web pages..
Enjoy until next month.

Merry Cooking and Blessed Eating