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The Healing Power of Hot Toddies

January 30, 2017

A stroll through a big-box drugstore reveals overwhelming choices for consumers seeking relief from colds, the flu, aches, and insomnia. Yet there was a time in the not too distant past when home remedies were often used to ward off colds, improve sleep, and relieve body aches. While some home remedies fell into the ineffective old wives tale category, many more had actually achieved the cure that grandma or grandpa promised and are still used and trusted today—without the potentially harmful synthetic ingredients and side effects commonly experienced from over-the-counter medicine or pharmaceutical drugs.

Take hot toddies. Herbal teas, lemon, and honey are the perfect antiviral combination to help clear congestion. Adding shot of whiskey, bourbon, or gin has a calming affect and can help one relax and sleep better (just don’t overdo it!). Both conventional and holistic practitioners will concur that sleep is ultimately the best medicine to recharge the immune system, thus fighting off viruses. The warm, aromatic steam from a hot toddy also soothes membranes and gives a cozy, comforting feeling, especially on a chilly winter night.

Here are a couple of my favorite recipes for hot toddies. So drink to your health, and stay warm and well this winter.

Soothing Sage

This hot toddy contains sage, which has cleansing, antiseptic properties, as well as a pleasant aroma. Lemon and honey adds antiviral benefits and a great flavor.

Place 2 Tbsp. of chopped, fresh sage into a tea ball infuser and steep in 8 ounces of boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove tea ball from sage tea and stir in a shot of Jim Beam or other good quality or local craft distilled whiskey, 1 Tbsp. raw or locally sourced honey, and 2 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Save a lemon wedge or cinnamon stick for garnish. Stir and drink.

Minty Goodness

Thyme has been known to soothe headaches and bronchial inflammation, and mint can aid and calm the digestive system.

Chop 2 Tbsp. of fresh thyme and 2 Tbsp. fresh spearmint and place into a tea ball infuser. Steep along with 1 peppermint tea bag in 8 ounces boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove tea ball and tea bag from mint tea and stir in a shot of good quality or local craft distilled gin and 1 Tbsp. raw or locally sourced honey. Garnish with mint sprigs and drink.

Recipes adapted from BUST “Drink to Your Health,” Oct./Nov. 2009 issue

Sheila Julson is a regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine

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