The famous saying ‚ "Let food be your medicine',
was first coined at least 2,500 years ago,
but it holds as true now as it did then.
Your kitchen cabinet can be your first port of call for many ailments
- it is a wonderful feeling to be able to treat friends and family
with these simple, yet effective, home remedies.
Let's see what treasures a few simple ingredients can yield.
Onions are in the same family as garlic
and have many of garlic's antibacterial properties.
You can make a garlic syrup in exactly the same way
as we have made this onion syrup.
Onions are easier on the digestive system than garlic
and for many people, including children,
this syrup is a perfect way to get the antibacterial qualities of raw onions.
This syrup can be used to help soothe coughs
and help combat lung infections,
as well as kidney and bladder infections.
Chop an onion finely.
Take a tablespoon or so of your chopped onion, and sprinkle the pieces into the bottom of a wide-necked jar.
Old jam jars or pickle jars are perfect for this, but you can use any jar as long as it's neck is wide enough
to easily fit your spoon loaded with onion in!
Add sugar to form a thin layer to cover your chopped onion.
You could also use brown sugar, maple syrup or honey if you prefer.
The only difference to the one being made here
is that your onion syrup will take on the colour of your sugar, syrup or honey
and, if you're using maple syrup or honey, your onion syrup will be more liquid.
Continue to layer your onion and sugar.
Start with onion, add a layer of sugar, another layer of onion,
another layer of sugar and so on until you reach the top of the jar.
Finish with a layer of sugar.
Put a lid on the jar and let this all sit for a few hours.
After a few hours, the sugar will have drawn as much liquid as it can
from the onion and been dissolved in this onion liquid.
This is your onion syrup.
Sieve the syrup - throw away or compost the solid bits of onion
and refrigerate your clear onion syrup.
This syrup can keep for a couple of months, if it's kept refrigerated
and if you use a clean spoon every time you use it.
This is an excellent tea for helping to clear up
excess mucus and stubborn coughs.
For this, you can use fresh or dried thyme,
depending on what you have easiest to hand.
If you're using fresh thyme, chop or tear up a small handful
of fresh thyme leaves.
If you're using dried thyme, use 1/2 a teaspoon per cup.
In herbal medicine, we use the word ‚ 'tea' and 'infusion'
interchangeably to describe infusing any herb
(dried or fresh) in hot water.
We are not referring to the everyday cuppa
made with black tea, milk and sugar
that we're all used to making or hearing about!
Add boiling water and let infuse for 5-10 mins.
As these infusions or teas are medicinal,
we do not recommend adding sugar or milk to them.
Sometimes, we might recommend adding honey as an optional extra
because of it's soothing qualities to the throat.
Strain and drink your thyme tea while warm.
To make thyme bath,
Make a very strong infusion of thyme
- say, 3 handful of fresh thyme leaves
or 1 tablespoon of dried thyme - to one pint of boiling water.
Let this infuse in a pot or teapot for 5-10 mins then strain.
Add this strong thyme infusion to a warm bath
that has no bubble bath in it.
Thyme baths have been traditionally used
to improve the immune system of weakly children.
For one cup of ginger tea, take about an inch of fresh ginger,
It's fine to leave the skin on or to peel off the skin - whichever you prefer.
Add the ginger slices to a pint of water and bring the mixture to a boil.
Once it's boring, turn the heat down
and let simmer gently for at least 20 minutes
- the longer you boil (or decoct) ginger, the spicier the tea will be.
It's very therapeutic, if you've caught a chill
- it feels as if the ginger is literally driving out the cold from your body!
The tea should be a lovely golden colour now
and when you lift the lid
you should be able to smell the earthy pungency of the ginger.
Sieve the mixture, at this point
You could add a teaspoon of honey
and the juice of half a lemon and drink warm
- the familiar ginger, lemon and honey tea.
This will definitely warm your body from top to bottom,
even if you always suffer from cold hands and feet.
Don't worry if you start to sweat too
this is just a sign that the ginger is working
and getting your circulation moving.
We could just leave it here but there is a wonderful traditional Japanese remedy
that is absolutely amazing if you've lost your voice or for a sore throat
and it involves soya sauce.
This might sound revolting but is actually delicious
and incredibly soothing to the throat
The soya sauce softens the raw fiery quality of the ginger
and turns this into a silky savoury drink
that can have you singing again in a matter of minutes
To your ginger drink (with no lemon or honey added)
add anywhere between 1tsp - 1 tbsp of soya sauce per cup
adjusting it to your taste
- mix and drink.
Ginger, Chilli and Garlic Immune Boost
Sometimes, you just need a quick, short, sharp
boost to the immune system!
This recipe delivers maximum firepower in the shortest amount of time.
This recipe can help boost the circulation and the immune system
when you feel the first symptoms of a cold or flu.
However, do not use this recipe if you suffer from stomach ulcers.
Finely chop one clove of garlic;
And then, finely chop a small piece of peeled ginger (about 1cm).
And then finely chop half a fresh chilli (red or green)
from which you have removed the seeds.
There are several ways to take the mixture,
but we would recommend the following way:
Fill a teaspoon with your mixture, add it to a glass
Pour a teaspoon of honey over this mixture,
then add a little water so that this concoction is easy to swallow.
Swallow this honey-fire mixture in one go!
The honey is there to counteract the raw, undiluted fieriness of this mixture
and deliver the mixture to the stomach without burning your mouth.
If you have any mixture left over, you can use it in your cooking that night!
If raw garlic is too harsh for your stomach or palate,
you can still enjoy the benefits of the sulphurous compounds in garlic
that help to make it such a superb anti-bacterial medicine.
Chop a handful of peeled garlic cloves.
Add them to 500ml of olive oil in a pot
If you wish, you can add other dried herbs such as chilli flakes or thyme
or oregano to add their medicinal qualities to those of the garlic.
and gently heat until the garlic is soft and tender.
Make sure not to let the oil smoke or to let the garlic change colour
as this will make your oil taste bitter.
Once the garlic is soft, pour the infused oil into a sterilised jar
you can add a few pieces of the garlic - and label.
You can use this in so many ways - in salad dressings, in homemade mayonnaise,
on top of pasta, drizzled on top of soups -ì the list is endless!
Horseradish is the only spicy plant that is indigenous to the British Isles.
It has a special affinity for the sinuses as you will have noticed
if you've ever had a mouthful of horseradish sauce or wasabi!
This spectacular effect,
of feeling like the back of your head has been blown off
gives us the indication for its use
horseradish can be useful when you have a head cold or a sinus infection.
Horseradish plants can often be found growing wild on wasteground,
along railway lines, canalsides and in meadows.
If you can't find a horseradish plant growing wild near you,
many greengrocers now stock it as do some supermarkets.
Here we show you how to make a horseradish vinegar
You will need a sterilised jar big enough to contain at least 1/2 a litre or 500ml.
You can sterilise the bottles, jars and lids,
by placing them in a pot of cold water which covers them completely
Boil the lot vigorously for at least 20 minutes.
Peel and grate about 50g fresh horseradish root
and pack into your sterilised jar.
Next, heat 500ml cider vinegar to just below boiling
and pour over the mix.
Add 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp salt.
Seal and leave for a month or
so before straining and bottling.
You can take this vinegar on its own,
add it to a cup of boiling water and a teaspoon of honey,
or add it to salad dressings.
You could also combine this with raw chilli, garlic, and ginger
for a particularly effective cold and flu remedy.