Sweet-smelling honeysuckle can do more for you than scent your garden. The flowering vine (Lonicera caprifolium) can also be infused in water, alcohol or a carrier oil to make extracts, tinctures, medicinal syrups and massage oils. As an herbal extract, honeysuckle--also known as woodbine--can be taken for coughs and breathing problems. It is a common holistic treatment for asthma, according to herbalist Jeanne Rose. To make classic honeysuckle extract, use fresh flowers and buds along with brandy or vodka as your extracting medium, known as the menstrum.
Things You'll Need
80- to 100-proof vodka or brandy
Liquid measuring cup
Glass jar and cap
Labels and pen
Second glass jar or bottle with lid or cork
Purchase 80 to 100 proof brandy or vodka. This proof will ensure a good balance of alcohol and water in the final extract as opposed to a higher-proof alcohol.
Calculate how many honeysuckle flowers you will need. Herbal extracts can be tricky to make with fresh material because of the guesswork in deciding how much liquid the petals contain. In general, use 1 part fresh plant material to 2 parts alcohol. In practice, 4 oz. (dry weight) of honeysuckle flowers would require 8 oz. (liquid measure) alcohol.
Pick the honeysuckle flowers. The buds, stems and opened flowers all contain special properties.
Fill a glass jar loosely with the honeysuckle flowers.
Pour the alcohol over the flowers, making sure to saturate all the plant material.
Securely cap and set the jar to steep in a dark place for two to six weeks.
Label the jar with the date the extract was made and the ingredients.
Shake the honeysuckle extract as often as possible during the steeping process.
Uncap the mixture after it has steeped for the proper period of time.
Strain the liquid through cheesecloth, firmly squeezing the cheesecloth to release all the extract.
Decant into small bottles or vials with tight stoppers or corks.
Make a new label, again noting the date when it was decanted, the contents and dosing recommendations.
Store in a cupboard or refrigerator.
Take when needed at a dose of five to 15 drops per 8 oz. glass of water or orange juice.
Honeysuckle extracted with other mediums can also be used therapeutically. Steep the flowers in olive, sweet almond or jojoba oil for massage oil to help increase circulation in the hands and feet, according to “The Complete Book of Herbs.”
Rose recommends honeysuckle flower syrup as an effective gargle for sore throats. Make your favorite simple syrup recipe, but replace plain water with water in which fresh honeysuckle flowers, or honeysuckle tea, has been infused in simmering water for 10 minutes.
If you can't tolerate alcohol-based medicines, substitute the same amount of vinegar for the brandy or vodka.
Consult with your doctor before trying any herbal remedies.