Archive for tag: herbs

Ginger Beer - Non-Alcholic

Hope everyone's week has gone well!

The Ginger Beer was a big hit in Botanicals class! I made enough to share with my Botanicals classmates, some other colleagues and a few professors as well! I named it Sunny Summer Thursday Ginger Beer since our class meets on Thursday evenings and we enjoy the sunlight as we gather plants from the NUHS Botanical Garden for use in our remedies. 

So, rather than ramble this week, I'll share my "info sheet/storyline" along with the medicinal properties of the botanical ingredients for the ginger beer! For the purposes of some background information, I was a home brewer for about 15 years. As I would introduce each new batch, I would build a "story" behind the brew and share that story at the introduction of the new batch. This is how Tall Tailes (with an e) Brewery came to be. I suppose you know by now that I like to tell a good story, so here goes! (And remember, the ingredients and amounts are real… the sources are well, a bit of a Tall Taile, so you can use ingredients from your locale).  




Sit back, relax and take a long, cool sip of this refreshing comeback beverage from the brewhouse of Tall Tailes Brewery! 

This non-alcoholic ginger beer is slathered with crushed ginger root, accentuated with juniper berry, fresh key lime juice and fresh lemon juice! Only the finest turbinado sugar is utilized to sweeten the sharpness of our exclusively grown ginger on our secret palatial mountain estate! Finally, just in case "the bite" is a little more than you expected (light weight), we put a bit of yarrow in our recipe to soothe the beast that is your tummy saying, "Give me MORE! I can't take it, but I WANT MORE of that Tall Tailes Brew!!!"

This could be a "non-alcoholic" preparatif sipped before a sunset dinner cruise in the Tropics! The short overview of the active ingredients after the recipe will give a little more info on the remarkably soothing GI help from this refreshing beverage!

Have a much as you like. The days are long, the sun is hot, so why not keep "cool" the Tall Tailes way… with an ice-cold Sunny Summer Thursday Ginger Beer!

A tasty pile of ingredients about to become some Ginger Beer!

Here's the recipe for a 2.5 gallon batch:

  • 3 gallons fresh clean Tall Tailes Estate Springs Water
  • 36 ounces Organic Tall Tailes Turbo-nado Sugar from our Caribbean plantation
  • 10 ounces dried crushed ginger root (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) from Tall Tailes palatial estate
  • ½ ounce juniper berry (juniperus communis) from our secret Tall Tailes 'Nearly Arctic' Scandinavian Juniper Tree Farm
  • ½ ounce yarrow (achillea millefolium) from our secret yarrow facility on the former estate of the ancient Greek hero, Achilles himself!
  • 12 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice from our special lemon trees in Bali
  • 6 Tablespoons fresh squeezed Key Lime juice from our compound on Key West
  • 1/8 teaspoon per gallon of Tall Tailes Top Secret Dried Ale Yeast (or any dried American ale yeast variety from your local home brewing store). You can use dried baker's yeast if you prefer as well. The baker's yeast will give a bit more "bready" flavor.


Making Ginger Beer is as simple as making soup!
Just take care not to bring to a boil with all the sugar in there!

  1. Combine 3.5 cups of water, 36 oz. turbinado sugar, 10 oz. ginger, ½ oz. juniper berry and ½ oz. yarrow in a large saucepan.
  2. Heat over Medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. (NOTE: you can heat to just before boiling and this will give more ginger flavor. BEWARE of scorching, however.)
  3. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for one hour, or up to two if you like.
  4. After an hour, empty the saucepan through a "double mesh" kitchen strainer, being sure to squeeze out all of the juice (this is your flavor).
  5. Cool the drained syrup to room temperature. You can do this by resting the container in a sink filled with ice water or putting the container in the refrigerator if necessary by the time the steeping stage is complete.
  6. Now, drop in the 1/8 teaspoon of yeast (per gallon, so adjust for size of bottle if necessary)
  7. Add the lemon and lime juice.
  8. Add the syrup that has been cooled to room temperature.
  9. Top the bottle(s) off with water.
  10. Now, cap the bottle(s).
  11. Shake or rotate them a few times to mix the ingredients and the yeast.
  12. Store the container(s) in a dark place that is room temp (or you can cover them with towels in a corner).
  13. Check the carbonation level around 24 hours, BUT NOT LONGER THAN 36 HOURS as the bottle may build a tremendous amount of pressure from the yeast eating the sugar and creating carbon dioxide (fizz). The cap should "want" to come off. This means that you are building carbonation from the little yeast buddies eating the sugar in the ginger beer.
  14. Once you have the amount of carbonation you want, seal the bottle and put it in the refrigerator. The coolness of the fridge will cause the yeast to become dormant, stop eating and thus stop creating alcohol.

Now, once chilled, your Ginger Beer is ready to be served to your family and friends!  Enjoy!

The Ginger Beer just after it was bottled, covered and stored for 24 hours.
It is a bit cloudy as it has a lot of botanical material in it (the good stuff!).
That will settle on the bottom, but it is really good to drink for
the healthy properties of the ingredients.

Here's some useful information on the medicinal components of Sunny Summer Thursday Ginger Beer...

Active Ingredients:

Ginger (Zingiber Officinale Roscoe)1

  • Utilized as a dyspeptic and anti-emetic in our beverage.
  • The anti-emetic effects are attributed to the Gingerols and Shogaols in the ginger. Ginger helps to suppress gastric contractions, raises the tone of the intestinal muscles and increases peristalsis. It's also pretty darn good for motion sickness too, according to some!
  • German Commission E has approved Ginger for loss of appetite, travel sickness and Dyspeptic Complaints.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)2

  • Yarrow is used medicinally as a cholegogue (induces bile release) from the guaianolides and germacranolides contained within the plant. The flavonoids in yarrow help with a spasmolytic effect on the GI tract, soothing the digestive process. 
  • German Commission E has approved yarrow for dyspeptic complaints and loss of appetite.

Juniper Berry (Juniperus communis)3

  • Juniper berry's flavonoid content enables it to be used as helper for dyspeptic complaints. Some reports indicate that juniper berry can help with hyperglycemia as well, although those haven't been proven yet. Regardless, the juniper can't hurt as any soda, including Ginger Beer, has plenty of sugar! 
  • German Commission E has approved the use of juniper berry for dyspeptic complaints.

Brewer's Yeast

  • While Brewer's Yeast was used in this recipe to create the carbonation, not enough sugar was converted to alcohol to help the reproduction and growth of our little friendly yeast critters. As a result, we won't get the benefit of lots of B-Complex vitamins, just the refreshing bubbles in this case.

Lemon and Lime Juice

  • Finally, the fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice are full of anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C!  If you are on a sunset cruise, you need to prevent the scourge of every sailor, scurvy!

All the folks here at Tall Tailes Brewery hope you have enjoyed reading this little bit of information on our first non-alcoholic offering. Making the Ginger Beer was loads of fun and making a healthy soft drink (is this possible?) is a bonus in itself! The brewing bug may have bitten the staff here and some mothballs have been moved along with some dusting off of old brewing equipment. Cheers!


  1. Hoffmann, D. Medical Herbalism, the Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. 1st. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2005. 597.
  2. PDR, Staff. PDR for Herbal Medicines. 4th. Montvale: PDR Network, 2007. 917-919.
  3. PDR, Staff. PDR for Herbal Medicines. 4th. Montvale: PDR Network, 2007. 485-488.

Tests and Tinctures

Let the exams begin!  We finished up this week with the first of the many exams, quizzes, midterms and lab practicals that 6th Trimester is known for providing (if that is the proper term). The first quiz was centered on the endocrine system, its involved structures and their interaction. What a doozy to kick off the trimester!

The classes aren't all work and no fun however! In our 'Special Topics in Botanical Medicine' class this week, we had the opportunity to make tinctures for the first time! A little about tinctures first. Tinctures can be made from the fresh or dried medicinal parts of plants. These parts could be the leaf, flower, stem or root of a plant, or all of the above, depending on the plant. Next, these medicinal parts are 'soaked' in a solution of alcohol, glycerine or vinegar, depending on the type of plant and the 'plant constituent' or chemical part of the plant that we want to use in the tincture.

The tinctures are made in ratios such as 1:2 or 1:4 or higher. The first number is the amount of plant material, typically in grams. The second number is the amount of 'vehicle' or alcohol, glycerine or vinegar in milliliters.  So, if you have 10 grams of plant material being soaked in 20 milliliters of alcohol, you would have a 1:2 ratio tincture! The units of measure don't really matter as long as you stay consistent with your ratios if you make a tincture and like the outcome. Simple really!

Some of the tinctures our class made this past week.

I made a Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia) tincture in a 1:18 ratio as a fragrance for a future cleaning solution. I also made a Bilberry Leaf (Vaccinium myrtillus) tincture in a 1:4 ratio as an experiment for future tinctures. Bilberry Leaf is reported to have anti-aging properties through improved circulation in the small blood vessels near the hands, feet and farthest reaches of the circulatory system from the heart. With an aging patient population, research continuing and the possibility of a potent herbal medication, Bilberry shows some promise!

Herbal medicine is just one of the strong tools at the naturopathic physician's disposal. The chemical constituents in many pharmaceutical medications are either the exact phytochemical or a derived component of many botanicals (or plant medicines). The great thing we are learning about the botanical medicines is that while the patient gets the benefit of the botanical medication (albeit at a much lower concentration than a corresponding pharmaceutical medication), the botanical medication typically has other components that reduce or eliminate any side effects of taking the botanical medication. While not true all the time, this is typically the case with botanical medications. As with any medication, any physician needs to take the precaution of understanding how the botanical medicine interacts with any other medications the patient may be taking, whether botanical or pharmaceutical.

This week, I am grateful for botanical medications that Nature has provided for us.  I personally have utilized a botanical remedy a number of times in various circumstances from a poultice for a pretty big scrape to helping ward off a nasty ear infection.  Thanks to those who have come before us and paved the way learning, gaining knowledge and sharing over countless generations for all that Nature provides for our health.