The winter holiday season has come and gone. The excitement and yuletide fervor are on the decline. While many of us stayed homebound and weren’t able to see our families this year out of consideration for the health of our loved ones, we may still have to keep vigilant for seasonal illnesses that have a way of finding us no matter what. The good news is that many of our cupboard staples have medicinal properties that may help usher us through the cold and flu season rather unscathed. Adding spices and herbs to every meal is always a great way to increase the health benefits as well as the flavor profile of many food items. The following is just a short list of many common spices we find in abundance this time of year.
Ginger - Ginger has wonderful warming properties and as such, helps stimulate blood flow, which reduces blood pressure as well as helps eliminate mucus and congestion from the body. It has also been found to have antimicrobial capabilities to help ward off colds as well as many strains of the flu. Obviously, ginger baked goods are found aplenty at this time of year, but adding freshly grated ginger to teas and oatmeals is a great way to keep winter illnesses at bay!
Cinnamon - Cinnamon has been used for centuries in folk medicine to help boost immunity, aid in digestion, act as an expectorant, and many more. In America, we often think of cinnamon as an addition to a sweet treat, but it also doubles as a savory spice quite nicely. You can also consume cinnamon as a tea and reap its health benefits that way. I love consuming my medicinal herbs in tea form during the winter. There’s something very therapeutic about a hot cup of tea in your hands.
Star Anise - Star anise is a classic wintertime flavor. You’ll find it in mulled wines, soups, and many other holiday treats. It’s also warming and pungent like the above two spices so it can likewise be used to stimulate blood flow. It’s highly antibacterial and antiviral, so it may help fight off colds as well as the flu - and it’s tasty to boot! You can add it to cookies, oatmeal, sweet potato casseroles, and eggs. There’s actually star anise in the tea I’m drinking as I type this.
These three herbs are just the tippy top of the herbal medicine iceberg. I encourage you to find out more about the herbs and spices you enjoy most and find new ways to celebrate them. That being said, I wish you all a very happy rest of your 2020 and a cheerful transition into 2021!