Winter has officially started.
Despite the frost and lack of day light, I really love the winter. There is something to be said about reading a good book under layers of sweaters, meals become decidedly more buttery and potato filled, and warm drinks. Oh, how I love warm drinks.
The really pesky thing about winter is the inevitable moment when you feel that tickle in the back of your throat. “Don’t think about it!” you exclaim to yourself before hearing your coworker on the other end of the office let out a whale of a sneeze. As images rush through your head of every banister or door handle you touched that day, the symptoms start to pile on.
You can no longer deny it.
You have a cold.
There is no cure to a cold, you just have to wait it out and hope it goes by quickly.
It’s easy to forget about our friend, the herb, until we really need it. I feel comfortable making the general assessment that most homes in America have at least one box of throat coat or chamomile tea hidden in some drawer or cupboard. No matter how advanced medicine becomes, our first lines of defense remains the classic plant based cures.
A lot of the modern remedies we take in pill form are actually derivative of ancient herbal tonics. Hippocrates wrote about meadowsweet as an excellent remedy for headaches. Fast forward more than a millennia to 1897 when scientists at Bayer extracted and synthesized the headache relieving chemical components from meadowsweet. They went on to turn this into a product we know today as Aspirin.
If plants were allowed to practice IP law, this would have been a legal hay day. We are however left with a choice. Do we take the pill or the herb?
I’m not one of those people who swears off of anything in pill form but when it comes to my general health, I gravitate towards herbal remedies. While a pill might have a super concentrated mega dose of whatever chemical it is that your body needs in that moment, it doesn’t contain any of the other chemicals from the plant that buffer your body in other ways.
You know that warning that says if you take too much Aspirin, it will make your stomach bleed? This is because Aspirin is made out of just the acid part of meadowsweet. There are none of the other chemicals from the plant that help your stomach to, say, not bleed?
It’s kind of like dropping bombs on your body when maybe you should have just imposed sanctions.
Post Hippocrates and pre-modern medicine, there was another way that people understood and utilized the healing powers of herbs.
Back in the 15th century, priests would use herbs and botanicals to help in exorcism rituals. The belief being that certain herbs have holy affiliations that a demonic presence might find repulsive and try to get away from. Poultices and incense made of herbs like cubeb and anise were common tools in the fight against the devil.
Looking back at those herbs from a modern perspective, it turns out that these devil fighting priests were on to something. A lot of those same herbs used in exorcisms also flush out toxins in the body and help keep the body safe from illness and infection. In other words, it gets the devil out.
So what kind of herbal remedies can we make for ourselves when we really need to get the devil out?
My favorite thing to drink when I’m sick combines the anti oxidizing powers of turmeric and honey with the cure all benefits of ginger and vitamin C potent fresh lemon juice. I mix these with my favorite healing herbs found in a bottle of Exorcism Bitters. Aside from how good it tastes, the best thing about this ginger/turmeric tonic is that it is easy enough to make even if you’re neck deep in the sniffles. If you can catch a cold early enough it can really make a difference as to just how bad it gets.
So cheers to your health and until next time, I’m going to rewatch season 1 of The Mandalorian while I doze off into a sweet delicious bliss.
Ginger/Turmeric Exorcism Tonic
2 liters of water
35 grams fresh ginger
50 grams of turmeric
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz honey
.25 oz Exorcism Bitters
Chop up ginger and turmeric
Combine in pot with water
Simmer for 15 minutes
Add honey, lemon, and bitters
Simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring periodically
Let rest for 20 minutes
Serve and enjoy!