One good thing about feeling under the weather is that you can baby yourself with delicious, soothing warm teas that abate the coughing and sneezing for a bit while you get the rest you need. Here are a few herb and spice blends (and an old classic!) that simmer up into comforting beverages…
Spice blend for multiple symptoms: Steep one-half teaspoon each of cinnamon and sage with a bay leaf in six ounces of just-boiled water. Strain, and before drinking the tea, add one tablespoon of lemon juice. Sweeten with honey, if you like. Cinnamon contains compounds believed to reduce congestion. Sage can help soothe sore throats and bay leaves clear the breathing passages. Two cups a day are usually best.
Cough calmer: Ginger is an anti-inflammatory that contains gingerols, which help sedate a cough. Cut up a two-inch knob of fresh ginger (no need to peel but remove any dark spots), and simmer in two cups of water for about 15 minutes. Add honey and sip away! You can also chew a piece of peeled gingerroot when you feel your cough acting up. Licorice root and peppermint teas are also good for coughs. Note that ginger is a blood thinner that can react with certain medications.
Fever reliever: Boil four cups (one quart) of water with one-half teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Just before you drink each of these cups (consume four throughout the day), add one teaspoon of honey and one-quarter cup of orange juice. Heat it up just a little, and then drink it slowly.
Sore throat soother: Marshmallow root, an anti-inflammatory herb, is particularly effective in soothing sore throat pain. Use one heaping teaspoon of marshmallow root pieces in one cup of boiling water. Let steep for 20 minutes and strain. Drink up to six cups daily.
Nice for the nasal passages: For a gentle decongestant, try a tea made from equal parts dried linden, elder and chamomile flowers. Combine the herbs and use three teaspoons of the mix per 10 ounces of boiling water. Steep, covered, for 10 minutes. Strain and flavor the tea with honey and lemon, if desired. Drink one cup twice daily until congestion is eliminated.
Easy comforter: Squeeze one-half lemon in a cup of just-boiled water, and stir in a tablespoon of thick, local honey. Sip slowly, inhaling its steam. Comforting and effective!
Thanks to Jamison Starbuck, ND, a naturopath in Missoula, Montana (DrJamisonStarbuck.com), and Brigitte Mars, an herbalist in Boulder, Colorado (BrigitteMars.com), for help with this article.