And when one / all of us get sick I turn to food first to boost and support the immune system during times of un-wellness. It is amazing what you can find in your pantry and fridge to support the healing from a cold / flu / stomach upset. I make lemon & honey drinks for colds; Chinese rice congee – rice cooked with chicken or vegetable stock into a thin soup – when recovering from a tummie upset. And my Immune Boosting Chicken Soup has a permanent spot on the stove top when a flu comes knocking. In my book Feeding Little Tummies I have several pages dedicated to natural home remedies to make during common childhood ailments.
So the other morning when I woke up with a tickle in my throat the first thing I did was make this simple syrup. I call it my ‘Kick-Ass’ Throat Syrup because it is loaded with natures finest immune boosters. Even if it doesn’t stop the cold developing – sorry I am not labeling this a cure-all syrup – it will give the immune system an awesome Kick alright [and your breath for that matter, but it’s all in the name of good health]. It is simple to make and keeps well in the fridge for a month or so, and can also be made into a ‘winter immune boost tonic’ as outlined below. Beyond food as nourishment during times of illness, rest and plenty of hydration is still the best medicine. I know full well how difficult this can be when running after children all day, so I make an effort to get an early night and reduce computer time – on that note I will leave you with the recipe…
In addition to the 4 basic ingredients I have added a list of optional additions in the ingredient list below - obviously they won't all work together taste whys - although you are welcome to try! Pick and choose what is most relevant to your circumstances/ symptoms / pantry / garden / availability. *Because this syrup contains raw honey it is not recommended for children under 12 months. And if you are pregnant or breastfeeding check with your health professional to make sure it is OK for you.
1 medium onion, sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp turmeric powder or 1 tbsp grated fresh turmeric root
1/2 cup manuka honey or other raw local honey
handful of sage leaves
1 chopped small chilli or 1/4 tsp cayenne powder [not child friendly]
3cm fresh ginger root, grated
10 whole cloves, roughly crushed - have a gentle numbing effect on a sore throat
> add 1 - 2 drops peppermint pure essential oil to the finished syrup - particularly helpful when stuffed up
> 1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil, melt gently then stir into the finished syrup until combined
- To make the syrup: combine the onion, garlic, turmeric and honey in a jar. Mix well, it will be sticky, and leave overnight or all day - a good 12 hours at least but as long as 24 hours. Over this time the syrup will brew and draw out the awesomeness found in the onion and garlic, and combining with the goodness of the turmeric and manuka honey. Once brewed the mixture will be a lot more liquidy. Strain through a fine sieve into jar and use the back of a spoon to squash out as much liquid as possible. Store in the fridge for up to a month in a sealed jar. Note: the syrup may separate a little in the fridge [esp. if using coconut oil], simply stir gently to combine.
- When a sore throat comes a knocking I take: 1 teaspoon syrup 3 x a day. I also add 1 tsp to hot water and lemon to make a boosted lemon & honey drink. Winter Immune Boost Tonic: combine 1 tsp Kick-ass Syrup with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, and 1/4 cup warm water. Sip before breakfast. Super Boost: add 1/2 tsp echinacea tincture to the above immune tonic and you will be bouncing off the walls!
+ Onion & garlic - anti-bacterial/ viral and immune boosting
+ Turmeric - anti-inflammatory to reduce the soreness of the throat
+ Manuka honey - anti-bacterial and immune boosting properties
+ Sage Leaves - antiseptic and decongestant [Thanks Natalie for sharing below] - not recommended while breastfeeding
+ Chilli - anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory + great circulation booster to get things moving
+ Ginger - anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and circulation boost
+ Whole cloves - natural pain killer for a gentle numbing effect on a sore throat
+ Peppermint essential oil - great for clearing sinuses [not recommended during pregnancy]
+ Virgin Coconut Oil - anti-viral and helps to thicken the syrup if desired