What is an Electuary? (How to Get Your Herbal Medicines to Taste Good, and a Recipe for Liver Support Pills)
This article is all about what is an electuary, how to make one, and why you need to add this herbal preparation to your personal apothecary know-how! Plus, ideas for electuary recipes and one specific recipe for Liver Support Candy. Enjoy!
“BLECH!!! and GAG!” my friend cried out, holding her throat and running to the sink for water after I talked her into trying an herbal tincture blend for her hot flashes. “I’m sorry,” she gasped. “There is NO way I can take that every day! “
I groaned inwardly. But I understood, for sure. Some herbs just taste plain old BAD. I’m not going to lie. Even I, who love my herbs of all kinds (even valerian root, reminiscent of stinky feet), have trouble with a few of them.
It’s true that some herbs taste just fine, or even ok, but some of them leave a lot to be desired in the taste department. Also, some herbal preparations don’t help matters much. Although super effective, herbal tinctures, for example, intensify the taste of the herbs.
Now, I happen to love my herbs, and I’ve gotten used to them. Plus, I know the short burst of bad taste will go away, and my body and mind will reap the benefits of better health. But what about people who don’t realize this?
What can you do about this “bad taste” problem?
Turns out, a LOT! I wrote about some of the sweeter herbal preparations in Part 6 of my series on How to Start Using Herbs, and these are great solutions for icky tasting herbs.
But electuaries—These are the sweetest solutions to the bad-tasting herb problem.
Once you’ve tried your herbs in this preparation form (an electuary), you’ll want to make lots of these!
You’re going to love electuaries! Some are even like candy.
If you have children (or even adults) in your household who won’t take their medicines or don’t like the taste of other herbal preparations, electuaries are a really good alternative method for getting people to use herbs!
They are great tasting and can make even the most bitter herb taste just fine. And there is a LOT of leeway in how you make them too. Plus, guess what? They are SO easy to make, even your kids can help.
Oh! But maybe you’re not a fan of using a sweetener like honey or added sugar? Take a look at this great sneaky way to get your peeps to eat their powdered herbs.
FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
So, What is an Electuary?
An electuary is a sweet herbal concoction made with honey or syrup, and dried, powdered herbs.
Sugar has been used as a preservative for thousands of years, and when you combine a form of sugar (usually honey) to your dried herbs, you end up with a very shelf stable herbal preparation.
Electuaries can vary in consistency from thick nut-butter like substances to being a bit more runny. They can also be formed into balls, pills, or pastilles (a fancy word for pill) to be eaten when the time is right.
In fact, making an electuary with your kids is a wonderful way to get them to 1) have fun, 2) learn a bit about herbs, 3) appreciate taking their “medicine,” and 4) enjoy the health benefits. Making electuaries, especially in pill or ball form, is fun, messy, and kids love to help with these!
You can make your electuary as strong as you want, as well. Generally, electuaries are made using powdered herbs, but if you need to add a bit of tincture, you sure can! The variations in making an electuary are endless, so this is a great herbal way to have some fun!
Directions for making an electuary follow the possible ingredients you can use just below.
Different Ingredient Ideas You Can Use to Make Your Customized Electuary
OK, so basically you need a gooey substance (like honey) that will hold the mixture together. Then you need some powdered herbs. That’s it!
So here are some ideas for you:
Gooey, Sweet Substances that Work Well for Making Electuaries:
Honey or another sweet, gooey type substance is needed to create your electuary. These are a type of solvent that holds the herbs together and helps preserve your herbal treat.
1) Raw honey (my favorite)
Honey has a ton of health benefits all on its own. When you combine honey with your herbs, you’ve got some herbal power going on!
If you need some extra iron, molasses is a great alternative to honey. It’s more runny than honey is, so you’ll use a bit less.
3) Syrups, including Herbal Syrups
Syrups are also great for using to make electuaries. The thing to know about using syrups is that they can become harder over time. This isn’t generally a problem, but something to be aware of.
4) Nut Butters
You would want to use one of the above thick sweeteners to combine with your nut butter in making an electuary. But adding a bit of nut butter often improves the taste even more, as well as makes the electuary thicker.
Options for Powdered Herbs to Use in Your Electuary:
There is no way I can go into all the different possible powdered herbs you could choose for your electuary. But I will provide some general categories of herbs you could consider. These are all ideas you can pick and choose from.
Just be sure you do your background research on the herbs you choose if you are taking medications, have health issues of any kind, or using for children, the elderly, or pregnant/nursing women. See the disclaimer below.
Using any kind of adaptogenic herb is great for making energy balls or electuaries. Adaptogens help your body deal with all kinds of different stressors, and help provide balance.
Some of these include rhodiola, astragalus, ashwandha, holy basil (tulsi), maca, and lots more!
If you want to add some powdered black tea leaves or a bit of guarana (be very sparing with this), the caffeine will also give you a boost of a stronger, more immediate kind!
Fighting Off Colds & Flu:
Powdered elderberry, echinacea, garlic, turmeric, ginger, etc. are wonderful choices for boosting your immune system! Combine some of these with an adaptogen or two mentioned above, and you have an excellent immune-support electuary.
Liver & Kidney Support (Blood Purifying Electuaries):
Powdered herbs such as milk thistle, nettle, burdock root, dandelion root, dandelion leaves, etc. are great choices for creating a liver or kidney support electuary.
Female Support Electuary:
How about trying a combination of raspberry leaf, Vitex (chaste tree berry), motherwort, and nettle for a balancing and helpful sweet herbal option to support female health?
Male Support Electuary:
Go ahead and try some of these: epimedium (horny goat weed), saw palmetto, turmeric, ashwandha, Eleuthero, and ginger! You can find out more about herbs to support the male body in this article.
Calm Down Electuary:
How about using some of these powdered herbs: Chamomile, skullcap, Passion flower, lemon balm, etc. These are all nervines and/or have mild sedative properties.
There are SO many other combinations you could create, too.
Other Powdered Herbs to Add for Taste and to Boost the Effectiveness
Besides the powdered medicinal herbs you choose, there are other herbal powders you can add just to improve the taste, consistency, and also the effectiveness of the preparation. Here are some possibilities:
Filled with anti-oxidants and having a lovely cocoa taste, cocao (or even cocoa) powder is an excellent addition to your electuary.
Ginger is a warming and stimulating herbs and will not only add its lovely pungent flavor, but will enhance the actions of the other herbal properties.
I love adding cinnamon to my electuaries. It helps to balance blood sugar levels, and its spicy-sweet taste ads another level to your concoction!
Turmeric and Black Pepper:
These two powdered help mightily with inflammation. They will give your electuary a more savory taste, but what a wonderful way to reduce any inflammation you have!
How do You Make an Electuary?
Just like all the options above, the way you go about making an electuary is extremely broad and forgiving of any errors.
In a nutshell, you just combine your powdered, dried herbs with your honey and any other additives. Mix until the herbs are fully incorporated into the honey.
If you are choosing to go for a more gooey electuary, you can store your electuary in a mason jelly jar (my favorite).
OR, if you are going to make candy type balls or pastilles, you’ll want to add less honey in order to have a nice firm mass to roll into balls. If you are making balls, I try to make them smaller instead of larger—-about 1/2 inch in diameter to an inch at most.
Remember, herbs can be powerful, so keep this in mind when making these. You are likely to love the taste so much, you just want to keep eating them!
How to Use an Electuary
Here are just a few of the possibilities for using your handmade herbal candies or spreads:
1) As a candy—-just eat and enjoy.
2) As a spread—You can spread the more runny electuaries onto toast or even drizzle over yogurt or oatmeal.
3) Just eat with a spoon! A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, right?
4) Stirred into a hot drink, like tea, hot chocolate, even coffee. Or—-just use some hot water.
5) Added to your morning smoothie!
Here is a Recipe for a Liver Support Electuary
I thought I’d go ahead and leave you with an actual recipe you can try! The herbs I chose for this electuary will support your liver. Like the liver tonic tea I wrote about awhile back, these herbs work to help detoxify and purify your blood through the toning and strengthening the liver.
These are easy to make (like all electuaries), and easy to take!
Ingredients for Liver Support Electuary:
1 part powdered Burdock Root
1 part powdered Milk Thistle
1 part powdered Dandelion Root
2 parts raw honey (Try to use local and raw, and please don’t buy the adulterated processed kind on the grocery store shelves—you know, the kind in the little honey bear.)
Additional powdered herbs such as cinnamon or ginger if you want additional tastiness or need more thickening to roll the mixture into balls.
Where do I get my herbs?
Great question! If I don’t grow them myself, I buy them. The links above are for Amazon, for your convenience, but my favorite online store for buying herbs is Starwest Botanicals.
Directions for Making Liver Supporting Electuary:
Step 1) Powder your herbs
I generally grow and dry the roots for burdock and dandelion and buy the milk thistle seeds whole. (You can purchase all of these herbs at Starwest Botanicals.) Powder the dried herbs in a spice or coffee grinder. I have one dedicated to herbs so I don’t get coffee in them. Easy peasy!
Step 2) Mix
Mix up the dried powders with the honey. When it’s mixed well, you should have a pliable mass that you can take bits of to roll into little balls.
If you don’t want to make little balls to eat as is, you can just keep this mixture in a jar and scoop out as you want.
Step 3) Store
To store your electuary, I recommend keeping in a glass jar in the refrigerator. They will last around six months, and maybe longer.
Final Thoughts on Making and Using Electuaries
Electuaries are one of the most fun to make and use herbal preparations in my opinion. Especially if you are wanting children to become involved in making and using herbal preparations, this is a great one to start with.
Also, for the elderly, electuaries are gentle and easy to use as well.
NOTE: This is important to mention, but please don’t use honey with babies under 12 months old.
I don’t know why I haven’t written about these before, as I make them all the time. I guess when you are so used to something you just figure that everyone else knows all about them too! And maybe they do? But in case you don’t, I hope this was a fun read and has given you some great ideas for using your herbs!
Have you used electuaries before? I’d love to know any questions, comments, ideas, etc. you have—so leave a comment in the comments section!
If you are interested in learning more about using herbs, go ahead and take a look at these articles in the How to Start Using Herbs series:
And more are on the way! I’m writing this series to provide you with a very basic foundation for using herbs in your life. Every home needs an herbal home apothecary, just in case there’s an emergency or even a long-term disaster.
Knowing how to use herbs and to create your own remedies for a variety of reasons is a great way to become more self-reliant and independent in your life. It’s a really good feeling.
Would you like a more formal education on herbalism? I love the online school, The Herbal Academy of New England. They are science-based and fun. It’s where I’ve taken several of my herbal courses!
If you just want a REALLY good book to get you started learning herbs, I recommend Rosemary Gladstar’s book, Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide. Even though I’m no longer a beginner, I find myself returning to this little gem often.
You might also enjoy:
And there are a lot more over on the blog! Go do some searching around—-I think you’ll love this internet space.
I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial on electuaries! And…I hope you’ll give them a try. They are delicious.
Hugs, Health, and Self-Reliance,
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Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. In no manner, stated or implied, is any thing I write or say meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness or disease. Please be sure to seek advice from your medical doctor. Also, be sure to check in with your medical professional before using any herbs or essential oils, especially if you are on medication, pregnant, nursing, elderly, or immune compromised. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.