Up here in the frozen Midwest there’s snow, there’s ice, and yes, there’s influenza. No getting around it, we are in the very depths of cold and flu season. Whether you’re looking to stave off an unwanted illness or treating one that has already begun, look no further than your home pantry for these natural immunity boosters and skip the frigid drive to the store or pharmacy!
What can honey do? Better to ask what it CAN’T do! Honey is chock full of vitamins and minerals. It’s a natural antiseptic, full of antibacterial properties, and antioxidants! The catch here is to make sure you’re consuming RAW honey, preferably locally sourced. The pasteurization that commercial honey goes through removes most, if not all, of those great benefits we just discussed. And why local? Fun fact! Locally harvested honey will be made from pollen in your natural habitat, meaning you are much less likely to have allergy issues with it. For those who suffer from seasonal allergies, especially pollen, it’s doubly useful! The trace amounts of pollen in the honey can be used to ramp up your immune system against the allergens in the air and lessen allergic reactions to airborne pollen.
Turmeric is that gorgeously golden spice you see so often in Thai and Indian food recipes, but what can it offer your immune system? It detoxifies your body by improving liver function and helping remove toxins efficiently from the body. It’s also a natural anti-inflammatory, which is great for swollen and achy joints.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy turmeric, well besides a good curry that is, is Golden Milk. Warm a cup of your favorite milk (can be dairy-free!) on the stovetop and add in ¾ a teaspoon of turmeric powder, a teaspoon of honey, and a pinch of ground pepper. Let it simmer for a few minutes, then drink warm from your favorite mug. Beautiful AND delicious!
Did you know garlic can help relieve ear aches? It has lots of antiviral and antibacterial properties that make it perfect to ease ailments in our sensitive ear, nose, and throat system. It’s also reportedly one of the very best natural remedies for ye olde common cold. If you feel a cold coming on, chew up a few raw cloves of garlic and lessen the length and severity of your illness. I, personally, cook just about everything with garlic, but if you have an aversion to the smell or taste, there are supplements available.
As with many of the ingredients on this list, ginger has antibacterial properties. This particular spice can help with congestion in the lungs and throat and act as a natural cough suppressant. It also helps soothe fevers, headaches, and cramps by blocking the culprits that cause them.
Ginger is fantastic in a plethora of different drinks and recipes, but a nice ginger tea is a simple, easy way to give your body a needed immunity boost. If you don’t have one on hand, steep a bit of freshly grated root in hot water and enjoy alone or with a bit of honey for sweetening.
Cinnamon is full of natural antioxidants that aid your body in stopping and removing unwanted pathogens that can cause you to get sick. It’s especially helpful for your stomach, which is a hotspot for all those nasty illness-inducing pathogens.
In addition to all that goodness, cinnamon has also been shown to help lower blood glucose levels by increasing insulin sensitivity. A nice little bonus for those living with diabetes or insulin resistance.
I say cayenne, but you can substitute a number of other spicy peppers here too. Have you ever taken a bite of something super spicy and your eyes watered and your nose ran? Yep, that’s the idea here! Clear out your sinuses with some cayenne, either dried and powdered in food or beverage of your choice, or raw if you can stand the heat.
When speaking about immunity boosters, lemons are one of the top mentions, second only to perhaps honey. And no surprise! Like all citrus fruits, lemons are naturally high in Vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system. They’re also known to help reduce fevers by increasing perspiration and ease sore throats.
One of the most common home remedies for any ailment is a simple “tea” made from hot water, lemon juice, and honey. Add in any of the other spices on this list to the honey-lemon powerhouse combo and you have a plethora of immunity boosting beverage options.
So the next time you start to get the sniffles or a feel a tickle in your throat, head for your spice cupboards instead of the drug store to tackle any number of common winter illnesses!