Happy New Year, Shala family! We’ve got quite a chilly start this week to 2018, and since cold weather is one of the most compromising times for our immune systems, I want to share a recipe with you for a wellness tonic that I make every morning. I’ve never been in better health than since I’ve adopted this as part of my morning routine over one year ago.

I’ve packed as many healthful ingredients as possible into this tonic, and while it’s incredibly beneficial, it also has a strong and somewhat unpleasant taste. If you don’t feel you can handle it right away, feel free to adjust the recipe to your liking. I always suggest using smaller measurements or using only a few of the ingredients to start, and increasing as you feel comfortable. This should ideally be taken on an empty stomach, but you can eat something light first if you feel the potency of the mixture irritates your stomach.

This tonic starts with warm water and a half (or whole) lemon — this is a great place to stop if you don’t feel up to the rest of the recipe yet. In Ayurvedic medicine, our digestion is viewed as a fire that burns more cooly during the night while we rest, and it must be awoken gently with something warm and invigorating in the morning. Warm lemon water is great for this as it also packs a large dose of Vitamin C and provides a hydrating boost to your body immediately. Added in are turmeric, black pepper, cayenne, fresh garlic, local honey, and a probiotic. I also add a tincture of echinacea, ginger, and elderberry to top off the tonic for maximum health goodness. For those of you interested in the health benefits of each ingredient, continue reading below the recipe for more information.

Most of this can be combined ahead of time and will keep in the refrigerator for about 4 days. I recommend cutting the lemon and garlic as fresh as possible, as the nutrients and vitamins in each will decrease as soon as oxidation begins. Enjoy!


RECIPE

GLOWING HEALTH TONIC
1. 1 tbsp Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar (or any brand “with the mother”)
2. 1/2 tsp turmeric
3. 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
4. A dash of black pepper
5. 1 tsp local/raw honey
6. 1/2 – 1 lemon, freshly squeezed
7. 1 dropperful of echinacea/elderberry/ginger tincture
8. 1 clove of garlic, coarsely chopped
9. 1 probioticCombine first seven ingredients with 6-8oz warm water (or more if desired) and drink quickly. Take the chopped garlic and probiotic as you would normal pills, either with the tonic or afterwards with fresh water.

BENEFITS

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR: the active ingredient in AVC is acetic acid, which is created in the fermentation process. Unfiltered ACV (or with the “mother”) contains enzymes, protein strands, and good bacteria. This allows ACV to kill pathogens, including bad bacteria. ACV is great for gut health, as well as stabilizing blood sugar levels by improving insulin function and lowering blood glucose. ACV has also been shown in studies to lower cholesterol and triglycerides, thus reducing risk of heart disease.

TURMERIC: Turmeric contains curcumin, which is a proven bioactive compound that is both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is believed to have a heavy hand in many western diseases, as it creates an ideal environment for pathogens to thrive in. Curcumin also neutralizes free radicals in the body, as well as stimulating our own antioxidant enzymes. Curcumin boosts levels of a growth hormone within the brain, called BDNF, which fight degenerative brain diseases.

BLACK PEPPER: This is primarily added in because the compound mentioned above, curcumin, is not absorbed well by our body. Black pepper boosts that, so we receive more of the beneficial properties in turmeric.

CAYENNE PEPPER: Cayenne pepper stimulates circulation, improves gut health, and actually soothes inflammation and irritation within the body. It also fights cold and flu with its heavy amounts of beta carotene and antioxidants, which break down congested mucus in the body. Mucus is where much of the bad bacteria of the illness is held by our body, and by breaking down and moving it out quickly, symptoms also follow suit. Cayenne also contains capsaicin, which helps heal stomach and intestinal issues. Ulcers, bloating, and acid reflux are all calmed by cayenne, contrary to what one might expect; it actually inhibits acid secretion, which is the root cause of those problems.

LOCAL HONEY: Honey contains pollen, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and is also anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antiseptic. This is a healing and rejuvenating supplement, and can be used topically as well as ingested. It will also help build an immunity to seasonal allergies in your area, as exposing your immune system to pollen that bees have brought from local flowering plants will allow you to build up a resistance to those allergens. Most honey in grocery stores has been pasteurized however, and the heating process that occurs during that destroys most of the enzymes and compounds that make honey so beneficial. Sourcing locally will ensure nutrient density, as well as aid in allergy defense.

ECHINACEA/GINGER/ELDERBERRY: There are dozens of immunity tinctures available for purchase at Chamberlains (a health food store on Colonial), as well as some at our shala. Extracts are taken from these plants (as well as some others) to create a blend that packs a huge boost to the immune system. Echinacea improves the overall function of the immune system, aids in oxygen transport in the bloodstream, and promotes the growth of healthy, protective cells. Ginger contains gingerol, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It is most commonly used to help digestion, reduce nausea and help fight the flu and common cold. Elderberry is a powerhouse plant, used to fight colds, influenza, and even H1N1 (Swine Flu). It is a strong antioxidant, which prevents cell damage, and shorten the duration of a cold significantly. Chemicals in both the flowers and berries also help diminish swelling in mucous membranes, like sinuses, and help relieve nasal congestion.

GARLIC: Raw garlic contains allicin, which is a medicinal compound that is created when the garlic is chopped, chewed, or crushed. Garlic contains Manganese: 23% of the RDA, Vitamin B6: 17% of the RDA, Vitamin C: 15% of the RDA, and Selenium: 6% of the RDA. Garlic has been shown in many studies to seriously boost the immune system, shortening cold duration by 70% and reducing the number of colds by 63% when taken regularly. Garlic also reduces blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, and can help detoxify heavy metals from the body.

PROBIOTICS: Probiotics are live microorganisms that can be consumed through fermented foods or supplements. The human body contains 100 trillion bacteria cells (more than human cells 10:1), and an imbalance of good and bad bacteria can lead to a wide range of health issues — including a lowered immune system. Probiotics boost your immune system by inhibiting harmful bacteria growth in the gut, as well as promoting natural antibody growth. Immune cells, such as IgA-producing cells and T lymphocytes. A good probiotic should have live bacteria, which requires refrigeration.