Immune Hot Chocolate
Hot chocolate is such a great winter comforting drink and often liked by adults and children alike. I've found that it is a useful way to get my children to drink herbs, and is equally tolerated by adults who might not enjoy a cup of herbal tea. I start with a base of organic cacao, which has an intense flavour and then add my herbal or mushroom mix to this. My top tip is to powder your herbs before blending your chocolate so that you don't end up with bits of herbs in your mouth, which can put folk off. I usually make a batch in a jar and then add sweetner to taste, I often add a herbal infused honey, but you could use honey, maple syrup, sugar or any other sweetener of your choice. Make your hot chocolate with hot water or some kind of milk, it's entirely up to you. Sometimes I will also add some marshmallows to the top for my children so that it's a treat.
During this cold time of the year I was thinking of herbs that were warming to the body to keep the temperature up, while maintaining good circulation, herbs that have antimicrobial, immune supporting and digestive effects and also nervines for the saddness that the dark winter days can sometimes bring.
There are all sorts of herbs that you could add into this, but the recipe we made for our winter HerbCare Stations is:
3 parts Cacao
1/2 part Ashwagandha
3/4 part Tulsi
1/2 part Rose
1/8 part Ginger
Cacao - Theobroma Cacao
Energetics: warm, drying, tonifying
Marcus Patchett has written an entire book about the benefits of chocolate and its help in improving mental health, it can help to reduce anxiety and lift the spirits. Although it contains small amounts of caffeine so can be stimulating, it also contains theobromine which is a relaxant, and also large amounts of magnesium often lacking in our diets. It has been called "the food of the gods". Some research also suggests that Cacao can support the immune system and contains a broad spectrum antimicrobial which has an inhibitory effect on the influenza viruses.
Ashwagandha - Withania Somnifera
Energetics: warm, drying, relaxing
It is best known as an adaptogen, supporting the adrenals and helping us to deal with stress. It is known to aid the circadian rhythm to become balanced helping someone to fall asleep at night whilst being a wake and energised in the day. Recent research (of the extract) has shown that it "significantly improved the immune profile of healthy subjects by modulating the innate and adaptive immune systems. Boosting the immune system of people at risk of infection and during widespread infections." https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/10/16/3644
Energetics: warm, dry, relaxant
Tulsi is an adaptogenic nervine, helping the body to deal with stress, so it is supportive for someone who is feeling unwell and also supports the immune system to work better to keep viruses at bay. Tulsi is great for lifting mood, releasing tension and depression which is helpful for someone feeling run down. In addition, Tulsi has been said to strengthen and modulate the immune system, playing a central role in cells involved in immunological defence.
Energetics: Cool, dry, tonifying
The cooling nature of Rose helps to balance the warming of all the other herbs so that the whole formula isn’t overly heating. The cooling nature helps to calm inflammation. It is effective at wound healing including in the digestive tract to improve the efficiency of the digestive system, and is also an antimicrobial and has great anti-viral properties. It is particularly helpful for its calming, comforting, protective effects. Rose is a tonic for a wounded heart, trauma and grief so I have included it in this blend for the kindness and love that the people receiving the herbs on the herbcare stations and anyone else may need.
Energetics: hot, drying, relaxing
The dried ginger is centrally heating, warming the core and digestive system. It is often given if someone is experiencing digestive upset and since a large proportion of our immune system is in our gut we want it to be working effectively. It is also an antimicrobial and so is helpful to support the body should there be any pathogens present. It is also useful if someone is feeling nauseou, which can be a side effect of a cold and post nasal drip.
Energetics: Warm, moist, tonifying
The moistness of the cinnamon helps to ensure that the blend isn’t too overly drying. It is great for cold conditions, to improve circulation, and it’s essential oils help to stop bacteria and fungal overgrowth in the digestive system. It is also very helpful for helpingj to lower blood sugar levels and aid our body to more receptive to insulin. When combined with Rose it is very comforting.