The Word "Elixir" has roots in the practice of alchemy; it was used in the Middle Ages as the word for a substance believed able to alter base metals into gold. Its later use for a drug purported to prolong one’s life led to its use in the names of medicines of mostly questionable effectiveness. Today, it is often used generally for anything thought capable of remedying all ills or difficulties, be they physical or otherwise. The word came to us via Middle English and Medieval Latin from Arabic al-iksīr; it probably ultimately derives from a Greek word meaning "desiccative powder."
Interestingly you can see that from a history of the word, it does have its roots in some crazy ideas, some might even argue that the roots of the word are a bit dark and foreboding. Live forever, turn metals to gold and love potion elixirs were all very popular beliefs associated with the term during Medieval times.
Just as we have come a long way in our understanding of medicine since those times we have also cast of ideas of turning random metals to gold and attempting to live forever. In modern times the word “Elixir” refers to a medicinal concoction or a sweetened liquid usually containing some form of alcohol that is used in medication as a flavoring or for its medicinal compounds.
Typically today one can find elixirs in the cough and cold section of your local pharmacy and interestingly enough if you take a stroll down the beauty aisle you will still see the word thrown about on a variety of anti-aging lotions and serums marketed to the woman who wants to look forever youthful.
I do want to stick a warning in here, I am a Christian and therefore careful where I source my information, I say this because there are many in the realm of witchcraft who also practice the use of homeopathic medicine and herbalism. I do not give any credence to earth worship or potion power but do recognize that God created everything on this earth, some plants he created with medicinal properties for humans to use. That being said often when you search the internet for recipes of herbal elixirs, the sites that come up have an undertone, if not outright declaration of association to some realm of earth worship or witchcraft. Just be careful is the warning, I only share information as it relates to keeping you and your family healthy in a natural manner and I choose to avoid sites like the ones I have mentioned.
So, how do you make an elixir as it relates to homeopathic medicine? If you read my previous post on Tinctures you have a base idea already. A tincture is made by extracting the medicinal properties of a plant or herb through the use of alcohol distillation. A basic elixir is similar to a tincture but with the addition of a sweetener, in herbal medicine most often honey. Many Elixir recipes also add water (distilled) to do a bit of dilution to the mix. The honey can often act as a stabilizer in your elixir and can sweeten things up a bit making an elixir a bit easier for children to stomach. I think of Mary Poppin’s song here..,”Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down...”
Back to Elixirs. One can make an elixir with a simple syrup recipe by adding alcohol as a stabilizer or one can make an elixir by adding honey to a tincture. (Typical ratio of tincture to honey is 2:1 in favor of honey. Either is fine really as long as you are not heating the alcohol as that destroys some of its components that make it a good preservative for your herbs. I could easily adapt my Echinacea Elderberry Cold & Cough Syrup into an elixir simply through the addition of alcohol to stabilize the mixture. (I would then not have to keep it in the refrigerator and could instead keep it in the cabinet) However, I choose to make mine a syrup more often than not as I use it with my very young children.
Here is one for a winter immunity booster elixir
Here is a list of medicinal syrups and elixirs.
and a variety of herbs or flowers selected for their medicinal purposes, have at it! Leave a comment and let me know which you intend to try making first, or if you have a tried and true recipe, leave that as well.