The cold season is notorious for triggering various illnesses, especially viral ones. According to experts, infections are more prevalent in winter when people spend more time together indoors. The virus also tends to live longer when the temperature and humidity are low.
When there is a drastic drop in temperature, we find comfort in hot beverages like teas to warm ourselves. But, there is more to tea than just that. An herbal preparation of beneficial herbs also gives the body the needed nutrients to steer through the health predicaments that come with winter. So in this article I’ll share with you my homemade winter root tonic recipe.
Winter Tonic Ingredients
An herbal tonic can be prepared in different ways, other than just brewing it into tea. The most famous is the winter tonic made from an assortment of powerful herbs fermented in apple cider vinegar.
It is called a winter tonic because it is mostly composed of warming herbs that give the body heat. It does not refer to the food temperature but the energy that it exudes to the body. You can take it whenever you need to energize and stimulate your body. These herbs help speed up metabolic activities, improve blood circulation, ward off pathogens and encourage overall wellness.
The Most Popular Roots
Ginger. Zingiber officinale is a medicinal rhizome that has a pungent and astringent taste that stimulates the body to produce heat. Ginger is used in treating inflammations, pains, respiratory troubles and digestive upset.
Turmeric. The golden spice turmeric (Curcuma longa) is an excellent spice for generating body heat. Turmeric can alleviate a vast range of health issues, including idiopathic ones or those without known diagnoses. Adding it to a winter tonic increases the potency of the mixture and wards off many types of illnesses.
Other Herbs and Spices
Garlic. Allium sativum is a warming herb that contains the volatile acid allicin. Allicin is useful in so many ways from relieving common colds and flu, maintaining blood pressure and sugar levels and boosting the immune system. Adding more garlic to the daily diet helps fortify the body to lower the chance of getting sick.
Onion. The bulb of onion (Allium cepa) can cause excessive hotness in the body. Taking onion will slightly increase the body temperature which works well in suppressing and killing pathogens in the cells. Onion also improves the body’s resistance against infections.
Cayenne Pepper. There is no more obvious “hot” spice that fits the bill than the spicy cayenne pepper. This heating tonic is an effective analgesic with a host of other effective therapeutic properties. Cayenne (Capsicum annuum) soothes inflammation, curbs the replication of pathogens and boosts immune resistance.
Cinnamon. The earthy and bittersweet cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) adds more therapeutic benefits to the tonic. Cinnamon bark is great for boosting women’s reproductive health and easing joint, muscle and body pains. It is a whole-body antibiotic that curbs bacterial infection while helping the body to recover quickly.
Black Pepper. Piper nigrum whether in its whole peppercorn or ground form is perfect for adding a spicy and woodsy aroma. It is also beneficial in alleviating acid reflux and other digestive issues. Black pepper is often used in conjunction with turmeric to increase the bioavailability or absorbability of the latter.
Citrus Fruits. A root tonic does not need to taste awfully bitter and disgusting. Adding citrus fruits to the stack of healing herbs adds to the medicinal benefit of citrus. It also enhances its aroma and gives it an explosion of flavor. Citrus fruits like lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, tangerine and others are rich in multiple nutrients like Vitamin C and flavonoids for boosting the immune system.
Rosemary. Rosmarinus officinales has a warming nature that is best for dispelling cold weather illnesses. The rosmarinic acid in rosemary solves digestive problems and brings down fever in flu. It is also effective in managing headaches and lethargy from hangovers.
Star Anise. Illicium verum is a sweet-acrid and warming spice that can give the body a natural boost with its immune-supporting properties. Star anise is especially useful during cold and flu seasons to fight infections with its bioactive compounds.
DIY Winter Root Tonic Recipe
Chase the sniffles that the cold season brings with this delicious root tonic that combines the most powerful herbs and spices.
The recipe calls for apple cider vinegar to soak the roots, preserve the mixture and extract their healing properties. ACV, by itself, also offers an array of health benefits. It helps relieve respiratory and digestive issues and supports good immune health.
After fermenting the tonic, you will need honey to sweeten it. Honey is also an excellent anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial food that completes the therapeutic effect of the winter tonic.
- ¼ cup chopped garlic
- ½ cup chopped onions
- ¼ cup freshly grated ginger
- ¼ cup freshly grated turmeric (or 2 to 3 tsp powdered turmeric)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 medium-sized lemon or lime, sliced
- 1 tbsp. peppercorns
- 2 star anise
- 1 tbsp. finely chopped cayenne pepper (or 1/2 tsp cayenne powder)
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
- ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- Apple cider vinegar (enough to fill the jar)
- Honey, to taste
- Place garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon stick, sliced lemon, peppercorns, star anise, cayenne and rosemary in a glass jar.
- Add in the freshly squeezed orange juice.
- Fill the glass jar with apple cider vinegar. Make sure to cover all the herbs to prevent them from getting moldy.
- Cover the jar and store it in a cool and dark place for about 4 weeks, shaking the jar once daily.
- After 4 weeks, strain the mixture into a sterilized jar.
- Add honey according to the desired sweetness. One-part honey for every three-part tonic is a good starting point for mixing.
- Store the jar in the refrigerator or a cool place for about 6 months.
Tips for preparing the tonic: Use gloves when preparing the tonic. The turmeric stains and the cayenne pepper stings, so avoid touching them with bare hands if possible.
A quart-size mason jar is enough to hold all the roots and spices. If it has a metal lid, cover the jar with parchment paper or plastic wrap before sealing to prevent corrosion.
Transfer the tonic into any jar. You can be flexible in adding and taking away spices from the list. Powdered spices are great, but fresh ones are better because they have the highest concentration of bioavailable compounds.
Additionally, you can give this Winter Defense Bundle a try. This bundle contains a powerful collection of herbal remedies that include Nicole’s All-Purpose First-Aid Salve, the Bronchial Blend tincture, the Elderberry, Yarrow, and Yerba Santa tinctures, plus an antiviral & antibacterial Usnea throat spray!
How to Use:
Take 1/2 to 2 tbsp. of the root tonic every morning on its own or diluted in water. Shake the jar before using.
Since the tonic is made of vinegar, you can practically use it in different ways. You can cook it with food, make it into salad dressing, turn it into a marinade or add it to sauces.