In Spring of 2015 Eli, the owner of the medicinal farm that I worked for, took us on an herbal farm tour of New England. We visited a few different farms, helped with their daily chores and learned how they operated on and off the field. It was a wonderful week long field trip that inspired me for years to come.
In particular was a visit to Healing Spirits farm in Avoca, NY where Andrea and Mathias graciously showed us how they operated their apothecary. Mathias took us into their woods where we gave thanks to a birch tree and harvested it. We brought our haul back to the farm where I was taught how to use a draw knife to peel the outer layer of bark off of the birch trees. The draw knife proved to be very therapeutic to me and I really connected with the process.
At home I mentioned how much I loved working with bark medicine and a guy informed that he had his father's draw knife and would love for me to have it. I was over the moon excited about the idea of being able to effortlessly peel the bark from trees and work with this tool that has withstood the test of time.
Lucky for us, our woods have an abundance of the sweet, aromatic native black cherry trees, aka wild cherry (Prunus serotina). I knew I wanted to make some medicine from their bark; it is such an amazing expectorant, or cough suppressant I decided to try my hand at making cough syrup. I searched out possible wild cherry trees while I hiked our dogs through the woods. I found one that I thought we could prune without doing too much damage to the tree and made plans to harvest it with Ben over the next weekend. Two days later while hiking the same woods I came across a tree that was downed from an overnight storm, it took two wild cherry trees down with it. I saw this as a gift from nature and immediately wanted to collect these trees so their death wasn't in vain.
On our way out of the woods with our bounty we came across the tree I originally scoped out for harvesting and decided to take a branch. I proceeded to cut down a smaller limb and it fell on my head so hard and so painfully that it was abundantly clear that nature had given me my piece and I was being greedy by taking more than my share. This lesson was noted and when we were gifted more trees in another storm two years later, we only took the felled ones.
We promptly peeled the bark off of the trees and put them in our drying shed. Wild cherry bark should to be dried before it is used. We also do not heat the bark when creating medicine as that can destroy the active constituents that curb our cough, cyanogenic glycosides.
We try to harvest the bark in the late spring for drying. We create a tea of other respiratory supporting herbs like horehound, licorice and thyme, mix with honey and allow it to cool before we add our wild cherry extract and brandy. Because what cough syrup would be complete without brandy;)
I am always surprised when I see people hesitant to try a natural remedy that you have to ingest. These are generally same people that do not think twice to swallow an over the counter cough syrup containing dextromethorphan, red dye #40 and artificial flavors. It breaks my heart that they do not realize that the pharmaceutical companies are trying to mimic the cough syrup of old by adding in colors and flavors of wild cherry. We believe in returning to our roots and coming back to the source. We can proudly tell you where we get ALL of our organic ingredients and what they are used for.
Our Calming Cough Cordial is quickly becoming a favorite among our customers. People are even reporting that their children love the taste! A 4 oz bottle of this cordial is included in our Winter Box, due to ship the second week in December. Please note that our Calming Cough Cordial does contain licorice root and that may cause problems for people with high blood pressure.
** For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease**