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Soothing Cold Elixir (it’s also delicious)

2012 December 12

Each year, for the last decade or so, I catch one cold. One knock-down, drag-out, please-just-kill-me-now cold.

It could be worse, I know: I could get two colds per year. But still. It’s a good three to four days of pathetic, woe-is-me misery.

Last winter, me and my cold sat on the couch for an entire weekend, watching Walking Dead reruns (apt, for a number of reasons) and a cooking show marathon on PBS. I would get up now and then to refresh my hot tea and tissue supply, and then shuffle straight back to the couch and my blanket. If my laptop hadn’t been on the other side of the house, I might’ve googled “rent-a-grandma” to see if such a thing existed. Rent-a-grandma-who-makes-killer-chicken-soup. And knows the lyrics to “Soft Kitty.”

Lacking a supply of chicken soup, I wish I had had the presence of mind to stir some honey and lemon into my tea. Obvious, right? Not so much when you’re glassy-eyed, congested, and coughing your lungs inside-out.

But this season, I’m ready. A jar full of cold comfort now resides in my refrigerator. Honey, lemon, ginger, and cinnamon, at my beck and call, ready to spoon into tea. Or directly into my gob.

This stuff tastes insanely amazing, like the best liquid candy you could ever dream up: not too sweet, not too tart, a little warmth from the cinnamon, a little bite from the ginger.

Bonus! This cold elixir isn’t just addictively tasty, it contains all sorts of body boosting goodness. Just check out the health benefits contained within:

Honey — has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties. Acts a cough suppressant and soothes a sore throat. Boosts immunity, and protects against infections in wounds. May improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity. Honey from certain flower sources contain friendly bacteria that are good for digestion. (Minor source of vitamins B2 and B6, copper, iron, manganese. 64 calories per tablespoon.)

Lemon — an excellent source of vitamin C, which neutralizes damaging free radicals and protects against inflammation in general and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Contains phytonutrients with antioxidant and antibiotic effects. (Significant source of vitamin C; minor source of vitamins B1 and B6, folate, copper. 4 calories per tablespoon.)

Fresh ginger — provides relief from nausea, motion-sickness, and morning sickness. Boost immunity and protects against bacteria, including E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Contains anti-inflammatory compounds and may provide pain relief in arthritis. May provide protection against ovarian and colorectal cancers. (Minor source of vitamins B6 and C, copper, magnesium, and potasium. 2 calories per tablespoon.)

Cinnamon — has anti-microbial properties, helps with blood sugar control and insulin response, boosts brain function. (Excellent source, in ground form, for dietary fiber, and manganese. Also a source of calcium, vitamin K, and iron. 0 calories per tablespoon.)

Some days, I take a tablespoonful straight up because the ingredients are so good for you. And it tastes like sunshine on a spoon. Not many commercial cold remedies can claim that.

Soothing Cold Elixir

Every ingredient in this homemade cold remedy is full of restorative nutrients. And every ingredient is delicious. Together, they’re amazing – this can be eaten by the spoonful, people. Unlike chemical, weird-tasting commercial cough syrup, this elixir is a healthy hug of comfort when the cold or flu bug bites. Whether healthy or sick, I love it stirred into my favorite herbal tea (cooled a bit first to protect the nutrients in the honey).


  • 1 medium lemon, 1/8″ thick slices, further cut into quarters, seeds removed
  • 1 each 1″ x 2″ piece fresh ginger, peeled, then grated or thinly sliced*
  • 3 each 2″ cinnamon sticks
  • 8 to 12 ounces raw honey (local-to-you honey is best)


  1. Add the lemon slices, ginger and cinnamon to a medium jar (I used a one-pint Ball jar). Pour in honey to cover the ingredients and give it all a good stir.
  2. Stores wonderfully in the fridge all cold/flu season long.
  3. To use:  with a clean spoon, stir the honey on the bottom into the lemon-honey juice on top. Add 1 heaping tablespoon to very warm water or tea. (Keep the water or tea between 100°F and 140°F – any higher, and the honey’s beneficial properties begin to break down. If you don’t have an instant read thermometer, as a point of reference, note that the temperature of the hot water coming out of the average household’s faucet is 125°F.) Or, just eat it straight up.
  4. For an extra special little kick when you’re feeling particularly under the weather, add a few drops of bourbon (obviously, for adults only).
  5. Honey should not be given to children under 1 years old except on the advice of a physician.
  6. *if you like the texture of bits of fresh ginger, then grate it. If you want just the flavor, use slices.


6 Responses
  1. Darlynne permalink
    December 12, 2012

    Brilliant! I know some worn-out, sick and tired peeps who could really use this. May have to have some myself.

    • Karen @ Leaf & Grain permalink*
      December 12, 2012

      Aw, Darlynne, so sorry your peeps are under the weather. It’s really going around in this area – something flu-like. Some kind of cold/flu combo. That’s actually why I made this now – I’m not feeling good about my odds. :) Hope your household is feeling better really soon.

      • Darlynne permalink
        December 14, 2012

        Just licked the spoon after stirring. Yum. Our Whole Foods had the local raw honey and interestingly, another store dispenses honey right from the box that contains the hive, complete with warnings not to open the lid. Me: O_0 Along with how? really? wha? Would this be a good choice for honey? (Sorry, trying to distract myself and act as if the world hasn’t gone completely insane.)

        • Karen @ Leaf & Grain permalink*
          December 16, 2012

          Well, that’s one thing I never heard of – in-store bees! In my neighborhood, the same kids that torture the lobsters through the glass would be opening the lid all day long. (That’s probably why I’ve never seen them lol)

  2. sandy permalink
    December 13, 2012

    Do you spoon out a piece of lemon to put in your cup, too? Or are you left with a jar of lemon slices when all the honey is used up? Do you “squish” the lemon to release more juice, or not?

    • Karen @ Leaf & Grain permalink*
      December 13, 2012

      I don’t squoosh. ;) That’s not to say you can’t – I just find it’s a better balance (to my tastes) if the slices go in whole. The stirring, I’ve found, squeezes the lemon slices a bit each time (plus they leech out their juices just being submerged). You could absolutely spoon a slice into your cup (that reminds me … I’m going to taste a slice tonight – I bet it’s amazing). You can top off the elixir with more honey to keep the lemon slices in play, if they’re still juicy (honey is a fantastic preservative, and the cinnamon will be just fine).

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