Lemon, thyme, ginger and raw honey – natures preventative medicine for winter ailments.
Individually these are great for supporting your immunity and can help ward off or soothe minor upper respiratory ills – together the synergy is greater than the sum of its parts. These each combine to create a wonderful tonic. These famous four have been used for centuries and are safe for everyone. Modern research continues to validate the amazing properties of these winter essentials.
Thyme is an antimicrobial agent against bacteria and and fungi (thrush or candida) and is also an antioxidant. It soothes the lining of the throat and windpipe, making it useful for dry hacking coughs and sore throats. It’s a wonderful herb that grows very well in our climate year-round, so you have it on hand whenever you need it. Make sure you grow the medicinal species of thyme – Thymus vulgaris.
Ginger has been used medicinally for centuries, and is very well supported by research. A wide range of health benefits include anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it stimulates the digestion, warms the tissues and enhances the circulation, aids digestion, calms the stomach, and best of all in winter, it prevents the growth of viruses that cause the common cold. Add it to your meals and drinks in abundance. Try to obtain locally grown ginger root, or try growing your own.
Lemon – I think we’ve all grown up with this one! The abundance of this fruit in winter time is an indicator of when it serves us the best. Lemons are rich in Vitamin C (when juiced fresh), antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds. The lemon peel contains compounds which are antimicrobial against viruses and bacteria. Using the whole lemon gives us the widest health benefits. Unused peel is a treasure not to be wasted – it can be frozen and added to meals later, or chopped into ice cubes and added to drinks. Every backyard or patio should have a lemon tree!
Raw Honey is rich in antioxidants, is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and anti-inflammatory. Honey soothes an irritated throat. While manuka honey has all the glory, research and anecdotal evidence suggests that other native bush honeys are likely to have similar properties. So why not try the beautiful rewarewa, bush or kamahi honeys instead! Look for local honey at your farmer’s market and try to obtain raw honey for maximum health benefits (most commercial honey is heated during processing and this destroys the antimicrobial compounds).
Try my recipe for Lemon Thyme and Ginger Warming Tea. It’s fantastic for sore throats, coughs, digestion and as a warming winter tonic.
Bone,K. (2003) A Clinical Guide to blending Liquid Herbs