Colds, flu, Covid-19 and a host of other communicable diseases are a huge threat to those who have a weakened immune system. I’m somewhat a believer in home remedies. Rosemary to open the bronchioles, peppermint for nasal congestion, garlic, lemon, honey, ginger, turmeric – the list is endless when we look at some pretty common kitchen staples that have proven health benefits. Back in February, at the suggestion of health foodie friend, I began to experiment with honey elixirs.
It’s commonly thought that local honey can help build an immunity from seasonal allergies. A tea of honey and lemon with a splash of Jack Daniels is a good home remedy to break up congestion caused by the flu or common cold. To add to honey’s health benefits is the fact that it just tastes good – making the medicine go down ‘in the most delightful way.’
Using local honey from Boykin Apiaries in Mountainburg as the base, I set to work researching reliable sources for the health benefits of the products I hoped to use: lemon (vitamin C – pretty obvious), turmeric, ginger and black pepper. Black pepper is included because it is needed to help our bodies process curcumin which is found in turmeric. Curcumin has been found to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Turmeric and ginger have both been attributed with properties that reduce inflammation.
Simply put, inflammation is your immune system’s response to stimulus. A certain amount of inflammation is normal and healthy. For instance, you may experience swelling and redness from a mosquito bite. Or maybe you get a splinter in your finger and it swells up and gets infected. These inflammations are temporary and go away once the splinter is removed or your body has successfully protected you from the allergen in the mosquito bite. But chronic inflammation, can be dangerous to the body and cause disease that weakens the immune system.
Now that I’ve explained a little bit about inflammation, let’s get back to my honey elixir. The first batch of this elixir included lemon peel, slices of fresh ginger, turmeric, and coarsely ground black pepper. I let the mixture sit and blend overnight before using the next day. I only made up a small batch because I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. To my surprise, it was actually tasty!
Our family uses the concoction to sweeten hot herbal teas. It is also good as a spread on toast and biscuits. My six-year-old granddaughter and I sip it straight up in ‘shots’ from those little dose cups that come with liquid cough medicines and children’s tylenol. My daughter can’t eat lemons so the next batch I substituted apple cider vinegar. The substitution changed the flavor slightly, but it was still tasty!
I have an array of herbs and spices that I enjoy cooking with on a daily basis. I’m sure that you do as well. You may want to add some of your own favorites and customize a honey elixir for your family. If you are making a big batch, consider roasting any fresh ingredients before adding them to the honey. Don’t have time for that process? Simply use the ground version that has already been processed!
I don’t share this because I believe this is a cure all that can ward off illness. Although, I do believe that it contains ingredients that can help us boost our immune systems. It just makes sense that we would want to add foods to our diet that actually produce health benefits. Good health begins with healthy foods – and frequent hand washing!