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 a good 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.