Healing Hot Toddy (Alcohol-Free)

We’ve all experienced it. 

Watery eyes, stuffy nose, inflamed sinuses, sore throat, coughs, headache, fever, fatigue and chills.  Nasty symptoms of the so-called common cold.

And now that we have entered the true season of giving and receiving, I wanted to offer up this natural home brew to help soothe and support the discomfort associated with these symptoms.

The ingredients selected for this beverage contain natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and thermogenic properties.

Here is a snapshot of how the elements come together to help support healing: 

Fluids: We all know about the importance of drinking plenty of fluids when we have a cold but here’s why: fluids help replace water lost from fever and respiratory tract evaporation and can also assist in loosening mucus build-up and alleviating nasal congestion. 

Proper hydration can also minimize the chances of illness setting in by preventing the formation of small cracks in nasal membrane where virus can enter.  This is particularly important during the winter months when artificial heating dries our skin. Aim for seven cups of fluid per day and consider warm beverages including: lemon water, soothing herbal teas, soups, and warming stews. 

Ginger: Ginger has been revered for centuries in Asia for its gorgeous aroma and impressive array of medicinal benefits.  Ginger contains potent anti-inflammatory properties called gingerols that can help inhibit and tame inflammatory processes in the body that often take hold during times of illness. 

Ginger also contains natural warming properties that help support blood circulation and promote mild sweating. These properties also have the comforting effect of warming our chilled bodies. 

Lemon: As a citrus, lemon offers one of the best dietary sources of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that has been shown to reduce the duration of cold symptoms in both adults and children. 

Vitamin C is also important during times of physical and emotional stress not only as an immune builder but also because the adrenal glands (the glands that are responsible for releasing stress hormones) require a steady supply of this nutrient to function properly.  This is agood time to stock up on vitamin C rich foods including: citrus fruit, red bell pepper, broccoli, kiwi and strawberries. 

Honey: Honey not only tastes delicious, particularly in the company of lemon, but it is also hygroscopic in nature meaning that it absorbs water.  This is a helpful property when it comes to treating ailments like the common cold because honey can help bring moisture to tissues that are dried out from repetitive coughing. Both lemon and honey also contain antibacterial properties that help cleanse the body of infection-causing bacteria. 

Juniper Berries: Juniper berries are probably best known for giving gin it’s unique flavour, but these berries are also credited with a number of medicinal benefits.  The oil found inside the juniper berry is said to act as a natural decongestant, helping to dilate bronchial tubes and move excessive mucus from the respiratory tract. Juniper berries also have natural antibacterial properties – similar to lemon and honey – that help combat infection.  While more research is necessary, the health benefits of these fragrant little berries are definitely worth keeping an eye on.  CAUTION: juniper berries are not recommended during pregnancy nor for individuals with a history of kidney/liver ailments – be sure to consult your health care practitioner prior to use. 

Chili Pepper: Hot peppers have a thermogenic effect on the body – meaning they have the ability to raise our body core temperature and stimulate metabolism. Spicy foods – especially those containing capsaicin like chilis, also help stimulate the production of endorphins in the body – those feel good neurotransmitters – that help contribute to a general sense of wellbeing (this may be one reason why some of us find spicy foods so addictive…!). 

Healing Hot Toddy (Alcohol-Free)
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 3 tsp ginger root, grated
  • 4 dry juniper berries*, crushed fine (you can find juniper berries in the spice section of most grocery stores – note: juniper berries are not recommended during pregnancy nor for those with a history of kidney/liver ailments)
  • 1/8 tsp dry red chili flakes, optional
  • 4 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
If you do not tolerate spices well, you can reduce the amount of ginger and chili in this recipe accordingly as both have heating properties.
See cautionary note above regarding juniper berries if you are pregnant or have a history of kidney/liver ailments.
Makes 2 warming cups of hot toddy.
Bring 4 cups of water to a gentle boil.
Place grated ginger, crushed juniper berries, chili flakes and 2 star anise into a tea infuser set in a tea pot.  Pour boiling water over infuser and allow the mixture to infuse for at least 7 minutes.  Remove infuser from tea pot.
Take out two large glasses or mugs (that will each hold two cups of water).  Divide lemon juice between two glasses/mugs and add about 1 Tbsp of honey to each glass/mug.  Divide hot toddy mixture from tea pot between the two glasses/mugs and stir to combine with honey and lemon.
Place a couple slices of lemon into each glass/mug.  For decoration, you can add another star anise, a couple more juniper berries and a cinnamon stick, as desired.

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  1. SallyBR says

    I have everything but the cinnamon stick – I used to have many, somehow after the move they must have evaporated in thin air… (sigh)

    What a great soothing drink, my poor beloved caught a cold and is feeling a little under the weather, I might brew a cup for him (and me)

  2. says

    Mmm, perfect for this time of year. I have to get some juniper berries from my local health food store, other than that I have everything to make this. :)

  3. Barb Bamber says

    I’ve been reading a bit about honey and lemon and their benefits.. I’ve been drinking lemon water more often and honey goes.. in everything:) Love this drink and will keep it handy for the next time I get sick! xx

  4. says

    Perfect timing Kelly as I’m laying here with that dreaded sore throat and annoying cough! I will give this a go today for sure!
    Love that you listed the healing properties too, thanks!
    PS. In Notes, I think you meant ‘healing’ and not ‘heating’

  5. inspirededibles says

    Good morning Eva… sorry to hear that you’re not feeling well but delighted to have this offering for you… Let me know if you give it a try. We are waking up to our first beautiful snowfall here in Ottawa!

    Thank you for paying close attention to the text – always nice to know that someone is reading my posts! ;0). In this case, I did mean heating. Both ginger and chili peppers are thermogenic so if you are sensitive to spicy foods, it might be a bit of an overload – you can just cut back on the suggested amounts.

    I hope you feel better soon Eva ~ stay warm under the covers!

    • says

      Thanks Kelly, I did indeed make this in the morning and enjoyed two large cups of it, I’m about to make it again as my throat is starting to get dry again.
      Glad it wasn’t a typo! The heating properties makes 100% sense since I tried it!

  6. Koko says

    What an awesome soothing drink! I’m surprised juniper berries are in it! I just began a course in aromatherapy and one of the oils I had to purchase was juniper berry oil- I haven’t learned about it yet but thanks for the bit of info on it! I find these things so fascinating!

  7. says

    Kelly, it looks fabulously delicious. I love your your presentation too! If all the healthy drinks and food were as gorgeous as on your blog…
    I still remember how surprised I was to learn that kiwi is full of vitamin C (it’s also easier to eat lots of fresh kiwi than fresh lemon ;-) ). I am surprised to learn about the juniper berries. I use them in cooking only in one dish, but I love them. They make normal meat taste almost like game! The dish is quite heavy, so I hope they make it more digestive.
    Thank you for making me wiser and most of all thank you for this excellent drink idea (if I make it I cannot promise I will not “spice it up” with a splash of gin though ;-) ).

  8. mjskit says

    When I get a stuffy nose I always use it as an excuse for a Hot Toddy. I know the alcohol in the toddy isn’t good for me or for my stuffy nose, but I sure like strong flavored hot drinks that help me breathe. I’m pinning this one because I’ll be good and make this Toddy the next time. I can just tell that it’s much better for me and I’m sure the effects won’t wear off near as quickly. The flavors also make this quite enjoyable to drink. Thanks Kelly!!!

  9. inspirededibles says

    Tepid lemon water is a wonderful way to start the day. Many find it very helpful for digestion as well. Cheers Barb.

  10. inspirededibles says

    How fun about your aromatherapy course… you’ll have to keep us updated! I find these things fascinating too ;0) – have a beautiful day KoKo!

  11. inspirededibles says

    I know what you mean about the vitamin C kiwi surprise… the other one is red bell pepper… probably the best source of vitamin C by weight! In the fall/winter I am constantly filling my sons lunchboxes with red bell pepper – I call it the red pepper challenge ;0). Yes, juniper berries are often used in meat – I haven’t tried that myself… my mom gave me a beautiful little jar of juniper berries a while back and I absolutely want to explore further! Thanks Sissi for your kind words and support ;0).

  12. inspirededibles says

    Haha, alcohol has it’s place but when we are sick, it’s maybe not the ‘best’ time – it’s dehydrating and contrary to popular belief, interferes with sleep… though we might ‘pass out’ sooner, it can lead to early waking. Thanks for the pin love MJ – always appreciated! ;0).

  13. inspirededibles says

    It’s perfectly natural to get sick from time to time – what we want to try and avoid is reoccurring and enduring illness. Cheers France!

  14. says

    Immediately saved! :) We don’t get sick very often (yay for eating a healthy and varied diet) but when I feel something start to creep up I always end up resorting to random concoctions I throw together. This looks so much better, thanks!

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