You know when you’re a kid (or grownup) and you’re sick and you just don’t feel like eating, much less swallowing some horrid tasting mixture your mom gives you to help you feel better? Well, this is where herbal jellos come into play.
They are ideal vehicles to administer therapeutic doses of herbs to less than willing patients such as children, the elderly and cranky-when-they’re-sick adults that you may or may not be married to.
It almost goes without saying, but just in case: please don’t offer treats laced with herbs to another person without first notifying them, their doctor and/or their caregiver as to what the ingredients are. While herbs can be powerful healers, some interact strangely with certain medications and can also present a potential allergen problem in susceptible individuals. (i.e. Those with ragweed allergies will occasionally react adversely to chamomile tea, etc.)
I first read about Herb Jello in: The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual by James Green. It’s a great book that covers pretty much any way you would ever want to prepare herbal remedies and treatments. His recipe calls for using tinctures and while that would work very well, I like to be a little more controlled with my dosing of those. Herbal teas can be dosed by the cupful and I feel there is a bit more leniency in the amounts one ingests.
I realize that the ingredients in Jello aren’t the healthiest, but I like what James Green, in all of his herbal master wisdom says about that: “…with all that good herb that’s going to be taken, a little sugar isn’t going to hurt anyone.”
As a vegan alternative to traditional Jello you might want to try: Jel Dessert (vegan, kosher, free of artificial colors & flavors.)
You can also check out my healthier version which avoids box mixes and uses fruit juice and gelatin, HERE.
To make an herbal jello, first you need to make a tea. You will need one (or more) of the following:
- a purchased herbal tea such as chamomile or ginger or some such sort
- or dried herbs purchased in bulk from a place such as Mountain Rose Herbs or Bulk Herb Store (they have more variety, freshness, potency and cost savings than store bought teas)
- or freshly gathered leaves and flowers from your own gardens (my favorite way!)
For store-bought teas, just follow the directions on the package. For dried herbs, use anywhere from 1 to 3 teaspoons in a glass jar. For fine powders such as olive leaf, I use around 1 teaspoon; for bulkier items such as dried elderberries, I use around 3 teaspoons. Freshly gathered herbs should be chopped and stuffed into the glass rather tightly.
Pour heated-just-to-boiling water over your dried or fresh herbs and cover with a saucer. Allow to steep until it’s cooled, then strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
While you can mix up an entire box of jello at once, I like to mix 1/4 to 1/2 of a box at a time. I’m going to give the instructions for using 1/4 of the box; you can double, triple or quadruple as desired.
- 1/4 box Jello (about 22 grams or 1 1/2 tablespoons powder) (for a vegan option you can try: Jel Dessert (vegan, kosher, free of artificial colors & flavors.)
- 1/4 cup prepared herbal tea (that will be heated)
- 1/8 cup cold herbal tea (for a Jello Jiggler texture that can be cut in slices or molded; for a softer, more traditional gelatin, use 1/4 cup cold herbal tea)
Bring 1/4 cup of herbal tea to a boil. Pour over 1/4 box (22 grams) of Jello powder. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes, making sure gelatin is completely dissolved. Add the cold herbal tea, stir, Pour into a small glass dish or mold as desired. Refrigerate until firm. Dose out to your little sick loved ones as needed!
Above, is strawberry herbal jelly made with elderberry tea. On the right is 1/2 cup of just the tea. I know in the case of my kids, it’s far easier to get them to consume a stack of jello slices rather than attempt to coax them to drink a whole cup of elderberry tea! Elderberry is a fantastic anti-viral and one of the top herbs to consider when you are facing influenza.
A few other ideas of herbs you might want to use:
- Lemon Balm: helpful for viral infections, cold sores, tummy upsets, and it calms and is conducive to a restful sleep
- Olive Leaf: antibacterial, antiviral, lowers fevers
- Peppermint: indigestion, colic
- Passionflower (leaves & stems): relieves muscle tension, helps sleep; do not use if pregnant (stimulates uterine contractions) and should not be used by children under 6 without medical supervision.
- Catnip: strong antifungal, helps insomnia and colic, not for use by pregnant women
- Chamomile: anti-inflammatory, soothes muscle spasms in stomach, calming, induces sleep; use caution if highly allergic to ragweed
- Valerian: helps insomnia and irritable bowels
- Ginger: antibacterial, antiparasitic, helps colds and upset stomachs, very effective for nausea, indigestion and morning sickness
- Yarrow: lowers fevers, helpful for colds and indigestion, not for use while pregnant, use caution if allergic to ragweed
- Blackberry leaf: helpful for mild diarrhea and sore throat
Remember, home remedies are great, but if you are sick for an extended period of time or have signs of something serious that might require antibiotics (such as strep), then please consult a qualified medical professional. This is simply a retelling of a method I employ in dosing remedies to my family when they have colds and other minor illnesses. No advice is implied for your particular and individual situations.
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