Yesterday I packed away all of my winter clothes and took the insulating plastic off of my windows, heralding in the warm spring weather. Now with today’s hail and snow, I really wish my sweaters weren’t so under wraps! Lucky for me there are many delicious herbs to keep me warm and keep my immune system strong during this time of transition. Chai tea is one of my favorite warming herbal preparations. So, on this chilly spring day I am glad to snuggle up with some warm chai tea and a good book and enjoy the flowers through the window. I call this recipe "Super" Chai because it focuses on adaptogens - herbal superheroes.
With March comes the promise of spring and a roller coaster of emotions. Hopes run high when the sky is blue and the sun warms our skin, only to be disappointed by yet another snowy night. These ups and downs can confuse our immune systems as well, especially if we under-dress during this delicate time. So, for the sake of our immune systems, weary after a long cold winter, I would like to share my recipe for elderberry syrup!
Ginger Honey Lemonade for Colds
Chinese medicine explains that there are two kinds of colds – ‘hot’ colds and ‘cold’ colds. With a ‘hot’ cold, you are sweating and throwing off the covers; with a ‘cold’ cold you are piling on the layers and shivering. It is very common for one to experience both of these conditions intermittently throughout one cold; you may experience a 'cold' cold in the morning, then then 2 hours later experience a 'hot' cold. It is best to drink warm beverages and eat warm foods and soups during a ‘cold’ stage of a cold; and to drink cool beverages and eat cooling foods and soups during a ‘hot’ stage of a cold. I find this dynamic view of a cold to be very helpful and that tailoring your food and drink intake to your current body state can help you to recover more quickly. Chicken soup is great for a ‘cold’ cold, but later when you are sweating it may be the last thing you want.
Astragalus membranaceus – a perennial member of the pea family, astragalus is native to China and often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. As an adaptogen, astragalus helps the body to be more resilient in coping with internal and external stressors from mental and emotional stress to the cold and flu season. Astragalus is supremely suited for boosting the immunity and helps to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, mononucleosis, pneumonia, and a myriad of other infections. Astragalus improves digestion and aids the lungs. Energetically, astragalus improves the body’s defenses, or “wei qi” while reducing excessive sweating. Susun Weed says that astragalus is one of the best herbs for preventing contraction of Lyme disease. Astragalus also protects the liver and kidneys, and is specifically helpful in preventing immune-suppression caused by chemotherapy. It also has tumor-inhibiting activity and high levels of anti-oxidants.
Given the current controversy around this traditional home remedy* and the snow falling outside my window, this seems like a perfect time to share a fire cider recipe! Fire cider is a spicy, sour, and sweet winter tonic that burns away obstacles, from the cold and flu to cloudy thinking and low energy. Many people use apple cider vinegar alone as a daily tonic for its various health benefits. Fire cider steps it up a few more notches! A great winter tonic for those of us who tend to be cold bodied, fire cider is an integral part of every home medicine cabinet.