Your immune system can be strengthened and supported in your kitchen with wholefoods, herbs and spices. You can keep your immune system supported and humming by avoiding high sugar and highly processed foods, and making up little remedies like this Garlic Oxymel.
An Oxymel is a herbal preparation made from vinegar and honey. This particular recipe includes other herbs (fennel and carraway) that I use in clinic for digestion and respiratory support and garlic, which is a powerful expectorant and antimicrobial herb.
Food is medicine very much so in this lovely kitchen remedy.
Here is a funny story for you about one of my Oxymel blends. I had a jar in the fridge and a friend was staying in my house over the Christmas break while I was somewhere else, and she said 'oh I really love that dressing you made'.
I had no idea what dressing she was talking about, then she showed me the jar and I realised it was my Oxymel blend!!!
So, now you know it can double as a dressing too!!
Before we move onto the recipe here is a rundown on the key ingredients so you have an idea of their natural health properties and why they have been used.
Garlic is antimicrobial, antispasmodic, expectorant and carminative - all actions that help with a cold.
It is one of the most effective antimicrobial plants available and its volatile oils are mostly excreted via the lungs so it is useful for infections of the respiratory system. For general use it may also be used as a preventative in digestive, respiratory and infectious conditions.
Caraway is an analgesic, antispasmodic and carminative. It is therefore a good remedy for colds and congestion, and it also contains mild antihistamines and antimicrobial compounds that help to relax the muscles that cause coughing spasms.
Fennel is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, carminative, a decongestant and antispasmodic.
You can also make Fennel tea on its own by steeping 1 teaspoon of Fennel seeds in a cup of boiling water for 5-minutes - great for after-dinner digestion too!
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
ACV is a natural expectorant that can loosen and thin mucus or phlegm in the throat to enable you to breath and swallow more easily.
It is also antibacterial and contains the probiotic inulin which may boost your beneficial bacteria in the gut.
You can take ACV on its own each day, I like mine in water with lemon in the morning. Use a straw to reduce impact on the enamel on your teeth.
Honey has antiviral properties that may inhibit the viral actions in a cold. It is antibacterial and antioxidant. I choose raw honey over commercial honey as it has not been heated and therefore has more of its beneficial properties. You can also use Manuka honey for an extra-dose of amazing antibacterial properties.
Honey helps to reduce irritation by soothing a sore or scratchy throat and it may boost the immune system which can then reduce the severity of your cold. Plus, a stronger immune system will aid prevention of future colds and viruses.
Garlic Oxymel Recipe
1 heaped teaspoon fennel seeds
1 heaped teaspoon caraway seeds
100ml apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey (raw, if you can get it)
1 garlic bulb (approx. 10-12 cloves or 30g)
Gently warm the seeds in vinegar, without boiling to infuse. Remove from heat after several minutes.
Strain this mix, and discard seeds.
Add honey to vinegar and warm to combine.
Peel and crush garlic and place in a sterile glass jar. Do this just before you are ready to add the honey and vinegar mix so that the garlic doesn’t oxidise.
If you are going to remove the garlic later (or you find the raw garlic too harsh) you can add to the honey and vinegar and warm for another 1-2 mins first.
Pour into the glass jar.
The garlic can be kept in the mix or strained as desired - I would highly recommend you strain for a children's Oxymel because garlic can feel like it burns when it is raw and in such an acute dose. I keep mine in there as it continues to steep into the honey and vinegar.
Take 1-2 teaspoons as needed or around 2-3 times per day.
If your cold has started you can take as often as you like, however as the garlic is quite strong in this form you may find you need to strain it off or be aware of your breath...peppermint tea anyone?
Storage and Use by
You can keep this in the fridge for around 3 months.
This recipe doesn’t make a lot so you may find yourself making it quite a few times over winter, or you can increase the ingredients and make a bigger batch up front to last you for the season.
I would love to know how you get on if you make this. Tag me in posts on social media @carissacrosdale and if you feel that someone you know may benefit from this, please feel free to share this post.
And if you find you need extra support to boost and modulate your immune system or general health, get in touch by booking an online Naturopathic consultation (LINK) to have a bespoke plan created for you.