Horehound, Goldenrod, & Elderflower Herbal Drops for Seasonal Support

A plate of herbal lozenges sits out surrounded with ingredients

We love spring in Eugene! However, this is the time our stunning oaks, cedars, pines, and other trees release their pollen. Then we move into gorgeous early summer weather… except that is when the ryegrass and Timothy grasses that are so prevalent in our area join the trees in their pollen-fest. For people who have sensitivities to pollen, spring and summer in our beautiful city can be challenging. The silver lining for herbalism DIYers is this is an opportunity to try your hand at making herbal lozenges that can offer some seasonal relief.

Horehound, goldenrod, and elder flowers growing and in bloom

Herbs for Seasonal Yuck

HorehoundMarrubium vulgare is a bitter member of the mint family and contains several constituents that can be helpful when pollen counts are on the rise, including alkaloids, flavonoids, and diterpenes. The diterpene marrubiin is thought to be responsible for the expectorant action of the herb. Horehound can help to thin and move buildups of mucus.

Cautions: Not for use in pregnancy except under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner. Also, as with all bitters, use cautiously if you struggle with gastritis or peptic ulcer disease because bitters may increase the production of stomach acid.

GoldenrodSolidago gigantea is a member of the aster family and contains terpenes, saponins, and beneficial flavonoids like quercetin. Like horehound, goldenrod is an anti-catarrhal, meaning it can help counteract or suppress catarrh by thinning and moving mucus along. Horehound and goldenrod are excellent compatriots in herbal blends.

Cautions: Not for use in pregnancy or while nursing except under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner. Do not use during attacks of kidney stones or other kidney disorders. People with allergies to other members of the Asteraceae (aster) family should exercise caution. 

ElderflowerSambucus nigra and S. ebulus flowers contain pectin, tannins, vitamins (including vitamin C), and flavonoids such as quercetin and rutin. Elderflowers have a long tradition of use for supporting mucus membranes, particularly in the nose and throat. In Ayurveda, elderflowers are said to dispense accumulation in the respiratory system.

Cautions: If you are taking diabetes medications, speak with your doctor or naturopath about using elderflower, and monitor your blood sugar levels.

Herbal “Candy” with Benefits

First and foremost, these lozenges are not candy and should not be treated as such. That said, the process is the same as making hard candies like toffee and lollipops. The benefit of lozenges over syrups is that lozenges keep the herbal constituents in your mouth for a longer time, which means you are slowly administering the herbs where you need them the most when dealing with seasonal yuck—your sinuses and throat benefit from more time with these beneficial botanicals.

You may be questioning why we’re decocting these leafy herbs as we would roots or woody botanicals instead of steeping them. In this process, we do lose much of the water-soluble vitamins by boiling them, but we’re making a trade. The long-simmering process does a better job of extracting the potent bitter constituents that are so helpful when dealing with pollen. Alternatively, you can boil the water and pour it over the combined herbs, cover and set aside overnight, then strain. You can then proceed from step six below. For similar reasons, if you don’t want to simmer honey, I suggest using sugar.

Although making lozenges isnt difficult, it can be intimidating the first couple of times you do it because youre dealing with very sticky boiling goo that will absolutely boil over given the opportunity. It requires time and your full attention, so plan for a day when you can focus.

A note about cooking pot size: You will be putting 1 cup of herbal decoction in a pot with 1 1/2 cups of honey or sugar(s) but—because of that aforementioned boiling-over problem—you need to use a pot that initially seems much too big for this quantity of liquid. I use a heavy 3 quart (12 cups) pot and even then it requires my undivided attention. There is a point, particularly once the mixture hits about 220° F, when you may need to toggle the heat up and down a bit to keep the mixture simmering but not going wild. You can also remove the pot from the heat temporarily to let it settle back down into the pot, but it’s better to adjust your heat to manage it if possible.

Lozenge syrup being dripped onto a piece of wax paper with a spoon

 

Herbal Drops for Seasonal Support

Makes 70-75 drops.

Measurements are by weight, but this recipe does not need to be exact, so I’ve included approximate volume measurements as well.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Combine water and herbs in a pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a steady simmer, then cover the pot and reduce heat to maintain a simmer.
  2. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove pot from heat and set aside for 10 minutes.
  4. Strain through 3-4 layers of cheesecloth to remove herbs. Squeeze cheesecloth to capture as much of the herbal goodness as possible. 
  5. Measure out 1 cup of herbal decoction. If you don’t have enough, put the herbs back in the pot with another 1 cup of water and repeat the simmering and sitting process to get a full cup.
  6. Put the decoction into a large pot with the honey and/or sugar over medium heat.
  7. Stir as necessary to dissolve honey or sugar(s) and then stop stirring. Now you need to start paying close attention to the cooking process! Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, not a full boil. In my experience, the syrup requires particularly close attention when it hits the 220s. The temperature should rise slowly and will take 20-30 minutes or so to reach final temperature. Remember to adjust the heat as necessary to keep everything from boiling over.
  8. As mixture heats, line two baking sheets with parchment or wash and dry appropriate lozenge molds and put on baking sheets for stability.
  9. Continue to simmer without stirring to 300° F. If you don’t have an accurate digital instant-read thermometer or candy thermometer, you can use the old-school method of dropping some of the molten mixture into a bowl or glass of ice-cold water (see pro tips below).
  10. If using lozenge molds, spoon hot syrup into molds and set aside. If you don’t have molds, let the mixture cool just a bit to thicken (so it doesn’t run everywhere when you spoon it out), then spoon approximately 1 teaspoon of syrup into “drops” on the parchment paper. They don’t need to be perfectly shaped, you just don’t want them to run together.
  11. If using a mold, set aside for about 20 minutes, then dust tops with powdered sugar, arrowroot starch, slippery elm powder, acerola powder, etc., and set aside to cool enough to remove from the molds. Toss with more powder as necessary to help keep them from sticking before storing.
  12. If making drops on parchment paper: you can leave the drops whole as flat disks or break the disks into pieces to make them easier to suck on. Either way, allow the disks to cool for about 20 minutes and powder as above, then allow to cool completely. Lift off the parchment with a spatula, break if you choose, and toss with more powder to coat. Alternatively (this is my favorite method) allow the drops to cool until they are firm enough to lift off the parchment with a spatula, but still pliable enough to roll each drop into a loose tube and then tuck in both ends to make more of a traditional lozenge shape, which makes them easier to suck on with no sharp edges. Powder as above and set aside to cool completely. 
  13. Store so lozenges aren’t touching in an airtight container in the refrigerator (shelf life about 6 months) or a cool, dry location (shelf life 3-6 months if cool and stored properly).

Pro Tips

  • To use the old-school candy-making test, drop a little molten syrup into ice-cold water. At the hard-crack stage (300° F), it will form hard, brittle threads that snap with a “crack” when bent.
  • For high-altitude candy making, subtract 2 degrees for every 1,000 feet of altitude so you don’t burn the mixture.
  • For humid climates, using half honey and half organic brown rice syrup can help keep drops from softening at room temperature.
  • It does take a bit of finesse to get the right consistency.  If your mixture winds up being too soft, you can roll in some additional herbal powders to firm them up. Storing them in the refrigerator will also help. 


Want Another Throat-Soothing, Lung-Supporting, Old-School Recipe?

MAKE STEVEN’S THROAT-SOOTHING PASTILLE RECIPE WITH OSHA!

 

You may also enjoy:

Herbal Lozenges PIN New

 


Topics: Culinary, Recipes, Herbalism, Specialty Ingredients

Heidi

Written by Heidi on May 3, 2024

Heidi is an award winning freelance writer with a passion for urban homesteading. She has been honored to receive a number of literary prizes including the esteemed Pushcart Prize and an Individual Artists Award in Creative Writing from the Oregon Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. When she isn’t working in the garden, cleaning the henhouse, preserving food, crafting herbal formulations, or writing and editing content for really fantastic small businesses, you’ll likely find her with her nose in a book.


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Horehound, Goldenrod, & Elderflower Herbal Drops for Seasonal Support

A plate of herbal lozenges sits out surrounded with ingredients

We love spring in Eugene! However, this is the time our stunning oaks, cedars, pines, and other trees release their pollen. Then we move into gorgeous early summer weather… except that is when the ryegrass and Timothy grasses that are so prevalent in our area join the trees in their pollen-fest. For people who have sensitivities to pollen, spring and summer in our beautiful city can be challenging. The silver lining for herbalism DIYers is this is an opportunity to try your hand at making herbal lozenges that can offer some seasonal relief.

Horehound, goldenrod, and elder flowers growing and in bloom

Herbs for Seasonal Yuck

HorehoundMarrubium vulgare is a bitter member of the mint family and contains several constituents that can be helpful when pollen counts are on the rise, including alkaloids, flavonoids, and diterpenes. The diterpene marrubiin is thought to be responsible for the expectorant action of the herb. Horehound can help to thin and move buildups of mucus.

Cautions: Not for use in pregnancy except under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner. Also, as with all bitters, use cautiously if you struggle with gastritis or peptic ulcer disease because bitters may increase the production of stomach acid.

GoldenrodSolidago gigantea is a member of the aster family and contains terpenes, saponins, and beneficial flavonoids like quercetin. Like horehound, goldenrod is an anti-catarrhal, meaning it can help counteract or suppress catarrh by thinning and moving mucus along. Horehound and goldenrod are excellent compatriots in herbal blends.

Cautions: Not for use in pregnancy or while nursing except under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner. Do not use during attacks of kidney stones or other kidney disorders. People with allergies to other members of the Asteraceae (aster) family should exercise caution. 

ElderflowerSambucus nigra and S. ebulus flowers contain pectin, tannins, vitamins (including vitamin C), and flavonoids such as quercetin and rutin. Elderflowers have a long tradition of use for supporting mucus membranes, particularly in the nose and throat. In Ayurveda, elderflowers are said to dispense accumulation in the respiratory system.

Cautions: If you are taking diabetes medications, speak with your doctor or naturopath about using elderflower, and monitor your blood sugar levels.

Herbal “Candy” with Benefits

First and foremost, these lozenges are not candy and should not be treated as such. That said, the process is the same as making hard candies like toffee and lollipops. The benefit of lozenges over syrups is that lozenges keep the herbal constituents in your mouth for a longer time, which means you are slowly administering the herbs where you need them the most when dealing with seasonal yuck—your sinuses and throat benefit from more time with these beneficial botanicals.

You may be questioning why we’re decocting these leafy herbs as we would roots or woody botanicals instead of steeping them. In this process, we do lose much of the water-soluble vitamins by boiling them, but we’re making a trade. The long-simmering process does a better job of extracting the potent bitter constituents that are so helpful when dealing with pollen. Alternatively, you can boil the water and pour it over the combined herbs, cover and set aside overnight, then strain. You can then proceed from step six below. For similar reasons, if you don’t want to simmer honey, I suggest using sugar.

Although making lozenges isnt difficult, it can be intimidating the first couple of times you do it because youre dealing with very sticky boiling goo that will absolutely boil over given the opportunity. It requires time and your full attention, so plan for a day when you can focus.

A note about cooking pot size: You will be putting 1 cup of herbal decoction in a pot with 1 1/2 cups of honey or sugar(s) but—because of that aforementioned boiling-over problem—you need to use a pot that initially seems much too big for this quantity of liquid. I use a heavy 3 quart (12 cups) pot and even then it requires my undivided attention. There is a point, particularly once the mixture hits about 220° F, when you may need to toggle the heat up and down a bit to keep the mixture simmering but not going wild. You can also remove the pot from the heat temporarily to let it settle back down into the pot, but it’s better to adjust your heat to manage it if possible.

Lozenge syrup being dripped onto a piece of wax paper with a spoon

 

Herbal Drops for Seasonal Support

Makes 70-75 drops.

Measurements are by weight, but this recipe does not need to be exact, so I’ve included approximate volume measurements as well.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Combine water and herbs in a pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a steady simmer, then cover the pot and reduce heat to maintain a simmer.
  2. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove pot from heat and set aside for 10 minutes.
  4. Strain through 3-4 layers of cheesecloth to remove herbs. Squeeze cheesecloth to capture as much of the herbal goodness as possible. 
  5. Measure out 1 cup of herbal decoction. If you don’t have enough, put the herbs back in the pot with another 1 cup of water and repeat the simmering and sitting process to get a full cup.
  6. Put the decoction into a large pot with the honey and/or sugar over medium heat.
  7. Stir as necessary to dissolve honey or sugar(s) and then stop stirring. Now you need to start paying close attention to the cooking process! Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, not a full boil. In my experience, the syrup requires particularly close attention when it hits the 220s. The temperature should rise slowly and will take 20-30 minutes or so to reach final temperature. Remember to adjust the heat as necessary to keep everything from boiling over.
  8. As mixture heats, line two baking sheets with parchment or wash and dry appropriate lozenge molds and put on baking sheets for stability.
  9. Continue to simmer without stirring to 300° F. If you don’t have an accurate digital instant-read thermometer or candy thermometer, you can use the old-school method of dropping some of the molten mixture into a bowl or glass of ice-cold water (see pro tips below).
  10. If using lozenge molds, spoon hot syrup into molds and set aside. If you don’t have molds, let the mixture cool just a bit to thicken (so it doesn’t run everywhere when you spoon it out), then spoon approximately 1 teaspoon of syrup into “drops” on the parchment paper. They don’t need to be perfectly shaped, you just don’t want them to run together.
  11. If using a mold, set aside for about 20 minutes, then dust tops with powdered sugar, arrowroot starch, slippery elm powder, acerola powder, etc., and set aside to cool enough to remove from the molds. Toss with more powder as necessary to help keep them from sticking before storing.
  12. If making drops on parchment paper: you can leave the drops whole as flat disks or break the disks into pieces to make them easier to suck on. Either way, allow the disks to cool for about 20 minutes and powder as above, then allow to cool completely. Lift off the parchment with a spatula, break if you choose, and toss with more powder to coat. Alternatively (this is my favorite method) allow the drops to cool until they are firm enough to lift off the parchment with a spatula, but still pliable enough to roll each drop into a loose tube and then tuck in both ends to make more of a traditional lozenge shape, which makes them easier to suck on with no sharp edges. Powder as above and set aside to cool completely. 
  13. Store so lozenges aren’t touching in an airtight container in the refrigerator (shelf life about 6 months) or a cool, dry location (shelf life 3-6 months if cool and stored properly).

Pro Tips

  • To use the old-school candy-making test, drop a little molten syrup into ice-cold water. At the hard-crack stage (300° F), it will form hard, brittle threads that snap with a “crack” when bent.
  • For high-altitude candy making, subtract 2 degrees for every 1,000 feet of altitude so you don’t burn the mixture.
  • For humid climates, using half honey and half organic brown rice syrup can help keep drops from softening at room temperature.
  • It does take a bit of finesse to get the right consistency.  If your mixture winds up being too soft, you can roll in some additional herbal powders to firm them up. Storing them in the refrigerator will also help. 


Want Another Throat-Soothing, Lung-Supporting, Old-School Recipe?

MAKE STEVEN’S THROAT-SOOTHING PASTILLE RECIPE WITH OSHA!

 

You may also enjoy:

Herbal Lozenges PIN New

 


Topics: Culinary, Recipes, Herbalism, Specialty Ingredients

Heidi

Written by Heidi on May 3, 2024

Heidi is an award winning freelance writer with a passion for urban homesteading. She has been honored to receive a number of literary prizes including the esteemed Pushcart Prize and an Individual Artists Award in Creative Writing from the Oregon Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. When she isn’t working in the garden, cleaning the henhouse, preserving food, crafting herbal formulations, or writing and editing content for really fantastic small businesses, you’ll likely find her with her nose in a book.