No Tea Leaves Required.
In my last post I promised to explain how I make the hot drink soother for sore throats and I'm as good as my word. The recipe is simple, requiring only four ingredients and about twenty minutes to make. I use water, just brought to a boil, grated ginger root, honey, and lemon juice. Before I give the 'how', let's go with the 'why'.
Ginger root is credited with many healing properties, probably most commonly for indigestion. Two of the other many benefits of ginger are said to be its antibacterial and analgesic properties. The compounds in ginger have a spicy-sweet aroma when the root is cut or shredded and give the tea a pleasant warmth on the back of a sore throat. Ginger root is usually easy to find at the grocery store near the garlic and shallots. Ginger is on the FDA 'generally recognized as safe' list and in any case, the amount in the tea is not a concentrated amount.
Honey is a natural humectant, useful for moisturizing the throat to help ease dry soreness, not to mention it tastes good when you're feeling sorry for yourself. Of course, anyone who has an allergy to honey shouldn't use it in their tea! You can even try making your own honey lozenges from this recipe on Little House in the Suburbs.
A shot of lemon juice in the tea is good if you've got mucous coating your throat, the acidic quality of the lemon juice helps to remove that. If your throat is very dry, however, you may want to leave the lemon juice out as it could dry out your throat worse.
Honey-Lemon Ginger Tea
1 quart water, brought to a boil and removed from heat
2 tsp. fresh ginger root, grated or sliced in thin pieces*
Honey and Lemon juice added to taste per cup
Peel a section of the ginger root, exposing an area about twice that of the end of your thumb. Grate or slice the root into the hot water and let it steep for fifteen minutes, covered if you wish.
Strain the resulting pale-golden liquid through a regular kitchen strainer. Line the strainer with cheesecloth if you want to make sure there are no tiny pieces in your tea.
Pour the hot tea into mugs, sweeten with honey and add a small amount of lemon (a little goes a long way) and enjoy.
I find that the spicy bite of the ginger, the soothing sweetness of the honey, and the added zing of the lemon juice makes this a must-have when I'm sick. I even go so far as to dip a cotton ball in the tea when it's cooled a little and dab my nose with it as that's where germs tend to hang out. All in all, a pretty cheap feel-good drink for when the winter cold and flu season brings sniffles and coughs.
*If you're grating the ginger it helps to freeze it first, at least partially. Grated ginger will yield a stronger tea than sliced ginger will. Most recipes recommend using a nutmeg grater but I don't have one and have found a regular cheese grater suffices.
Let me know in the comments section if you try this tea and what you think of it. Also, what are some of your favorite remedies to use at home for colds?
Tis the season for sneezings, wheezings, coughings, and nasty little infections like strep throat. Strep is barreling through my family (yes, it got me) and lots of the other families in the area. Talk about no fun at all. I looked up strep on Web MD because my baby daughter had a 'mysterious illness' with rash and high fever two days apart from having a 'mysterious allergic reaction' and she's on steroids for that. I knew that steroids lowered the immune response and I also knew we'd been exposed to the highly contagious strep.
The good news, if there is any, is that strep is bacterial and so can be treated to some extent with antibiotics. The bad news is that the antibiotics only shorten the illness by about 16 hours but the really good thing is that they cut the time that you're contagious to 24 hours as opposed to about 2-3 weeks spreading the joy without them.
Bottom line for me to get better was going to take time, about 3-7 days worth of time, and possibly garlic, ginger, and busloads of vitamin C.
Common comforts for a nasty sore throat are salt water gargles, honey/lemon tea, and popsicles. The salt water gargle is especially soothing and this time around I decided to amp it up and try to make it more effective. Hence adding garlic!
Garlic's 'Magical' Compounds
Garlic purists will only use fresh garlic, peeling off cloves from the papery bulb and smashing the clove with the side of a chef's knife or squeezing it through a garlic press. When the garlic clove is cut, smashed, or squished it sets into motion a complex conversion process in which allicin is formed before spontaneously breaking down into a group of odoriferous compounds.* Garlic is said to have many medicinal benefits, among them antibiotic and antiseptic properties. I figured if I was stuck with strep anyway, it was worth a try!
Now there are reported ways to eat raw garlic, such as with an apple to coat your mouth with the pectin so that the garlic doesn't burn on the way down or putting the minced fresh garlic into some yogurt, applesauce, or sour cream. I have to say, I tried a couple of these tactics and they didn't work very well. Maybe I was doing them wrong (is there a wrong way to put minced garlic into applesauce? It was very garlicky applesauce.) Please keep in mind that if you decide to eat the raw garlic do so only in moderation, it's pretty strong stuff and can cause a rash of problems if you overdo it, so don't overdo it, okay?**
I've digressed, haven't I? On to what I actually did do.
My Killer Salty Garlic Gargle
Oooh, with a name like that you just have to try it, don't you? Come on, people, there are partiers out there who drink stuff with worms in it which sounds pretty bad to me. This way you don't have to eat the raw garlic which gets a thumbs-up from me. You can hack a little garlic gargle unless you mind smelling like salami. Which you probably will but when your throat hurts every time you swallow it's not that big of a deal. Some people LIKE salami!
Here's all you need:
Clove of garlic
1/2 tsp to a tsp of salt (I like sea salt so that's what I have for everything)
a mug,, bowl, garlic press or chef's knife and a fork, and a strainer
Pour the salt into a coffee mug or glass, set aside. Smash the garlic clove with the side of a chef's knife and peel the papery outer cover off before mashing the garlic with the fork in the bowl. Or those who are lucky enough to have a garlic press, squish the clove into the bowl. Cover with about 1/2 C. hot water and stir around, encouraging the compounds from the garlic to go into the water. Strain the garlic water into the mug with the salt and stir. Your gargle is ready.
I've been using water that's just on the point of boiling, probably destroying too much of the beneficial compounds, and yet I'm still tasting the garlic and feeling it burn a little on my miserable throat, burning the bacteria that's causing this, I imagine. Ahhhh. And I was feeling a bit better yesterday and still a bit better today so maybe it's on its way out.
Now I may be able to really enjoy the popsicles that I had my husband pick up last night for me!
One of my other favorite soothers is a small departure from the Honey/lemon tea idea. I'll try to post that one tomorrow. Do you have any good ways to soothe a sore throat? Post them in my comments! They'll show up once they're approved, sorry but we're getting mostly spammers in the comments so far. All you real blog readers, please speak up!
*This information thanks to Bottom Line's Secret Food Cures by Joan Wilen and Lydia Wilen.
**Caution:Do not eat raw garlic or take garlic supplements if you have a bleeding disorder or ulcers, or are taking anticoagulants.