I was in college when I first stumbled across my "magic miracle drink." I had a vicious cold and was short on money. I couldn't afford to buy Lemsip, which is a cold therapy brand used in the U.K. It comes in pouches of powder that you mix with hot water, tastes delicious (although opinion varies), soothes a sore throat, comforts aching muscles and contains a decongestant. Until then, I had sworn by it. But on this occasion, my nose was running and my cupboard were bare.
I decided that I would have to make do with my own concoction. I sliced up a lemon and threw it into a mug. Then I remembered my boss at the Chinese take-out place I worked during high school. She would drink a steaming mug of grated ginger whenever she had a cold. I grabbed a bag of ginger tea from a long-forgotten herbal tea variety pack hiding at the back of the pantry. Adding a teaspoon of honey, I poured in the boiling water. I waited and stirred and waited again. Then I curled up in bed with the steaming mug warming my hands and took my first sip of this newly invented brew.
Little did I know that my concotion was not very new at all. In fact, it was ancient.
Ginger has been used as a herbal remeby for thousands of years. The ancient Chinese hailed its healing properties more than two thousand years ago, and ginger is still renowened for relieving indigestion as well as cold symptoms such as a sore throat, congestion and sinus pain. Lemon has antiviral properties, and honey has long been used to soothe dagger-throat. Combined, these elements make a cold remedy that is far healthier and tastier than store-bought powders, syrups and goos.
But comforting conconctions for cold sufferers are only the beginning when it comes to herbal remedies. The range of options for a tea drinker are endless, with a brew to suit every ailment. Here are some of the tried and true:Cardamon For digestion, bloating, flatulence and nausea. Chamomile For digestion, stress and insomnia. Cinnamon For circulation. Dandelion A diuretic for ailing water retention. Elderflower For calming colds and sinus problems. Fennel For digestion and nursing mothers. Ginger For digestion, sinus pain, congestion and a sore throat. Green Tea For weight loss, headaches, depression... and practically everything else. Lemon Balm For anxiety, digestion and aiding sleep. Marigold Antiviral, antibiotic and anti-fungal properties. Good for detoxifying. Peppermint For digestion and headaches. Rooibos For digestion, nervous tension, allergies and more. Rosemary For digestion, circulation and mental focus.