Christmas is over and most of my family seems to have been struck with a stomach bug. Luckily I haven’t caught the bug and I think this is in part due to my regular consumption of fresh ginger and olive leaf tea. While sipping on a hot cup this morning I reminded myself that this is a great recipe to share!
Fall and winter are notoriously cold and flu seasons in Canada. As the temperatures and sunlight exposure drop the immune system can struggle with fighting off viruses and bacteria. Not surprisingly environmental triggers aren’t solely responsible for the etiology and pathogenesis of colds and flus. Digestive health and diet, lifestyle, and mental-emotional wellbeing all plays part in our ability to strengthen our immune defences preventatively and proactively.
Approximately 75% of our immune system is located in our gut, along with our enteric nervous system. By taking care of our digestive health during fall and winter with warming foods through the consumption of root vegetables, soups, and stews, fresh herbs, leafy greens, proteins, and tea, our internal environment utilizes the temperature, antioxidants, and nutrient-dense substances to ward off pathogenic invasion and to stabilize mood.
Simply and profoundly — sip on vitality tea throughout the day, dress warm, and wash your hands thoroughly. In traditional Chinese medicine invasive pathogens can easily enter through the superficial layer of the skin which then travel into the meridians and deeper into the body. By wearing scarves and warm clothing, washing regularly, and refraining to go outside with wet hair you can proactively help yourself out. Additionally, getting regular acupuncture to boost your lung and spleen qi helps to strengthen your body’s defensive mechanisms and digestive health.
Seasonal check-ins or ‘tune-ups’ with your health care practitioner serve as helpful antidotes. Inquire about supplement support (vitamins and minerals, probiotics, vitamin D, fish oil, oscillococcinum), acupuncture, exercise and lifestyle suggestions that may be beneficial to your constitution.
Benefits of ginger, lemon, and olive Leaf:
- Ginger‘s pungent and warm properties enters the lung, spleen, stomach, intestines, heart, and urinary bladder meridians.
- This culinary herb disperses wind-cold, promotes qi circulation, and helps to resolve phlegm. Ginger warms the middle energizer to stop vomiting, nausea, and indigestion, and warms the lung to stop cough.
- Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger which contributes to its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. These effects can benefit a variety of chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis, to acute gum infections, to painful episodes of exercise-induced muscle fatigue and dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps).
- Ginger is blood sugar regulating, boosts circulation, and may improve cholesterol and blood triglyceride levels.
- Dried ginger is more heating than fresh.
- Use caution when using ginger if you tend to feel warm or hot frequently, or if you are prone to ulcers. Seek advice from your herbalist or Chinese medicine doctor to learn more.
- Lemon. The sour properties of lemon enters the lung, spleen, kidney, liver, and gallbladder meridians. Lemon regulates blood circulation, qi circulation, heat, toxins, and phlegm. *Lemon and lime are cooling, though lime is considered to be more cooling and suitable for those with histamine intolerance.
- Lemon is cleansing. It promotes the secretion of saliva, relieves thrist, harmonize the stomach and may prevent miscarriage. Lemon helps with poor appetite, stomach heat, sunstroke (limes are better for this), vomiting during pregnancy, cough, and abdominal distension.
- Lemon zest promotes the flow of qi, helps to break up phlegm, and helps abdominal distention and pain. It’s pungent and bitter flavour is warming and it enters the stomach and lung.
- Olive leaf is bitter and cooling. It helps with fatigue and supports the immune, digestive, and cardiovascular system.
- This extremely antioxidant-rich herb contain oleuropein phenolic compounds that have antimicrobial, antiviral, antiparasitic, and antifungal properties. Olive leaf contains more antioxidants than most popular superfoods, for example it’s ORAC value is 10,465 mol TE/gram compared to green tea extract, which contains 5,397 mol TE/gram.
- Olive leaf is immune-modulating. It helps to eliminate bad bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi without building antibiotic resistance.
- Datis Kharrazian in the book ‘Why Isn’t My Brain Working‘ explains, “Various mechanisms have been discovered related to their anti-pathogenic effects, including inhibiting pathological organism reproduction, altering pathogenic organisms to build cell walls, altering protein production of pathogenic organisms necessary for replication, inhibiting assembly of pathogenic organisms at the cell membrane, interference of reverse transcriptase and protease production of the pathogen, and enhanced formation of the immune system cells to combat the pathogenic organism.” Wow!
- Contact your health care practitioner for further information — olive leaf should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation, if you’re taking diabetic or blood clotting medication, and if you are allergic to olive tree pollen.
Plan to carve out a few minutes throughout the week to prepare the following recipe — your health will thank you. If you’re sharing make sure to double the recipe and in a situation of profuse diarrhea and vomiting add extra electrolytes through sea salt, honey, and coconut water. Enjoy a cup upon rising in the morning and in between meals.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Brew time: 15 minutes
Yields: 6 cups
- 6 cups water, or 3 cups water + 3 cups coconut water
- 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and fine grated
- Juice of 2 – 3 fresh lemons (1/4 cup) (use lime for low histamine)
- 2 – 3 tsp fresh turmeric, peeled and fine grated (optional)
- 1 tsp fine grated lemon peel (omit for low histamine)
- 2 – 6 tsp Olive leaf tea (use more for acute symptoms)
- 1 – 2 tbsp clover honey
- Pinch of himalayan sea salt, optional
- Peel then fine grate the fresh ginger and lemon zest.
- Simmer the ginger and lemon zest in water for about 5 minutes on medium low heat, covered.
- Add remaining ingredients, stir, then let the tea steep with the stove off, covered, for an additional 10 minutes.
- Strain or ladle into mugs and store refrigerated in a mason jar.
- Reheat and serve as desired. The tea can be re-used once to make another brew.
- Leggett, Maverick. Helping Ourselves: A Guide to Traditional Chinese Food Energetics. Totnes, England: Meridian Press, 2005.