I am often asked what it is that I do if I feel like I am coming down with a cold. I used to get sick multiple times during the winter season, but not anymore! I haven't been sick in ages - and I like to think that it is because of my go-to drink that I make whenever I feel like I am coming down with a cold. Today, I plan to tell you about this magical drink - and explain to you why I think it has such a powerful effect on boosting my immune system - helping me not get sick!
We made this tea a few years ago with EarthBites - a Non-Profit that educates elementary school students about gardening and nutrition. Since then, I have changed it around a bit to make it even more potent and immuni-boosting! I make it a little different every time, depending if I want more sour, more spicy, or more sweat, so have fun! Below is a basic recipe, but feel free to add more or less of anything to suit your taste buds.
1/4 cup Stinging Nettle packed (or 3-4 tea bags)
3 tbsp Grated Organic Ginger
1 Lemon juiced
2 tbsp Dried Rose Hips (or 2 tea bags)
LOTS of Honey (I like about 4-5 tbsps)
Put all ingredients into a ceramic pitcher (or something to steep in), add some boiling water and steep for as long as possible (at least 15 minutes, best would be overnight). Judge how much hot water to put in by the size of your tea pot (fill to about half).
Why only fill your teapot to about half? I usually put in enough hot water to fill half the pot and make it into a concentrated tea so I can steep it for longer without worrying about it cooling down, then when I am satisfied by its intensity, I will add the other half of new boiling water to heat it up again.
Once steeped to your liking, strain out all the contents and put your concentrated tea into your teapot, and add a new batch of boiling water to fill it to the top.
Why does this tea work so well?
Ever had a sore throat before and wondered why Honey, Ginger, or Lemon tea made it feel better? Well, both Honey and Ginger are magical foods in that they contain anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.
What does that mean?
Well, it means that these amazing foods help fight the germs that make you sick. Ginger and Honey can boost our immune system by adding soldiers to the team - helping you fight whichever cold you are trying to fight off - whether it is bacterial or viral!
What is the secret about the lemon? Well, just like all citrus fruits, lemons are full of Vitamin C. In fact, in just 1 lemon you will get more than 50% of your daily needs of Vitamin C! Why is this so good for your immunity? Well, Vitamin C is a super antioxidant, which is a huge helper to your immune system.
What is an antioxidant?
Well, oxidants are toxins that accumulate in your blood. They can come from a variety of places like the foods we eat, smoking, air quality, you name it! The more oxidants you have in your blood, the less efficient your immune system can work, so anti-oxidants (ie. oxidant fighters) indirectly help your immune system by getting rid of the stuff that is making it not work so well.
Rose Hips is also full of Vitamin C. In fact, it is SUPER full of vitamin C. When I am living my everyday life, 50% of my daily value in one lemon would be perfect. But when I feel like I am getting sick, I want to give my immune system all the help it can get. To give you an idea of how much vitamin C is in Rose Hips, in just 1 cup you could get more than 700% of your daily recommended value! It is incredible!
Worried that you might be taking too much Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a water-soluable vitamin, meaning that any extra that you consume will just be disposed of in your pee, especially when you are getting it from food sources. Therefore, when you are coming down with a cold, it is good to get as much vitamin C as you can. Furthermore, some researchers say that we can go through all our daily needs of Vitamin C in just 4 hours, meaning that drinking a tea like this all day long would make sure you have enough vitamin C to combat the fighting bugs.
(NOTE: When it comes to vitamin C supplements, it is the same idea BUT you want to work your way up daily to see where your threshold is because Vitamin C in high doses can have a light laxative effect on the body... ekk!)
And the last ingredient, and in my view the secret ingredient, is the stinging nettle. Stinging Nettle is cool because it is full of many nutrients including calcium, magnesium, and iron.
Many people these days are lacking iron - especially athletes and women - and because of that our bodies work very hard to absorb it. With that said, the secret of stinging nettle is its ability to get the body to want to absorb nutrients. If it opens the floodgates for iron to come in, other nutrients like Vitamin C can follow. That is why I like my stinging nettle - because I believe it increases the absorption rate of all the other vitamins and minerals.
So there you have it. My favourite immune-boosting tea to make when I feel like I am coming down with a cold. Along with this tea, I like to drink fluids, go outside and get some sunshine (for the Vitamin D), and sleep - sleep - sleep! If I do all those things, I feel great in no time.