A Golden Elixir for the Common Cold


Golden Elixir

As daylight ebbs and fades and shadows lengthen and stretch, the unfolding of winter is upon us. The season can evoke a gorgeous quietude –  a period of inner reflection. For many of us, however,  it is teeming with stress (holiday- related and otherwise). This sets the stage for one of the most ubiquitous ailments: the common cold.

 I find myself  coming back to his elixir time and time again. The individual spices each on their own confer astounding health benefits . Together, they are an salutary force of staggering proportion. (Please note, this recipe contains honey and honey is not to be given to children under the age of one year).  I hope this special brew helps you feel better.


Three Cloves


In  Ayurvedic medicine, cloves are a Kapha-reducing spice. They help dry out mucous, which is especially  good for wet, productive coughs (those with lots of mucous).  It is also good for relieving spasmodic coughs.  Because of its analgesic effects,  it is useful for laryngitis and sore throats.  A recent study showed that clove oil is an excellent free- radical scavenger  and an  effective growth- inhibitor against numerous bacteria.


Cardamom pods with extruded seeds


Cardamom is considered a digestive aid. It helps remove mucous from the stomach and lungs.  It is beneficial for sore throats. Cardamom extracts were shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the immune system.

mortarccCardemom and Cloves in mortar ready to be ground with pestle
IMG_6650 Fresh Ginger


Ginger is a  notable and highly respected spice.  To be fair, its beneficial properties can be the subject of a single post.  But to stay focused, we will limit our praises to its immune-enhancing properties. Ginger warms the body and helps with digestion.  Ginger is a good diaphoretic.  It is known for alleviating nausea, and helps disperse phlegm in coughs and colds.  One study showed that ginger has antibacterial activity against common respiratory pathogens.


Fresh Turmeric


Turmeric is an especially propitious spice. Its healthful properties warrant an entire post, but  again, for the sake of brevity, we will stay focused.  Fresh turmeric is stunning. It is the color of a sunset. The taste is sort of like a carrot, but with a slightly pungent aftertaste. It is an excellent natural antibiotic, anti-cancer agent  that also aids digestion and helps balance intestinal flora. According to Ayurveda, it is a warming spice.  A recent analysis of its molecular components showed antiviral activity  against influenza  virus A.





Lemons are a source of Vitamin C.   Aside from imparting a tartness to the elixer, lemons contain Vitamin C, a well respected anti-oxidant and essential cofactor in numerous enzymatic reactions that occur in the body.  Further,the use of Vitamin C prophylactically has been shown to decrease the duration of a cold. Lemons can alleviate a cough by clearing mucous. They have also been shown to have an antibacterial effect.


Manuka Honey:

Manuka honey(used as a sweetener- 1-2 teaspoons as desired)- You can substitute another honey, but  Manuka honey is an especially potent anti-microbial and anti-fungal.  All honeys have a low pH  and the ability to generate hydrogen peroxide.  They use hyperosmolarity mechanisms involving hydrogen peroxide for their antimicrobial actions, but only Manuka honey contains high levels of methylglyoxal(MGO).  Hydrogen peroxide is easily denatured by exposure to light and heat.  Methylglyoxal is an especially hardy (not damaged by light or heat) and potent antibacterial agent.


Cup of Golden Elixer with spoonful of Manuka Honey 


One and one half cup of water

3 cloves

3 cardamom pods

1 inch of ginger peeled

1/2 inch of turmeric peeled or 1/8 teaspoon( three shakes) of turmeric powder

Juice of half a lemon

1 teaspoon of Manuka honey ( may sweeten to taste)


Measure 1.5 cups of water. Pour into a pot.  Add the clove and cardamom (It is recommended to grind the cardamom and clove in a mortar and pestle to help release their aromatic oils), Add the ginger,  and the turmeric (for the fresh ginger and turmeric, I usually press them through a garlic press to help release their juices, I then throw the macerated root into the pot), juice of half a lemon , bring to a roaring boil, then reduce heat to medium so elixir continues to boil slowly for five minutes. Strain and pour into a cup. Sweeten to taste with  a spoonful of Manuka honey. let it cool, then sip.

Please note, the healthful properties of the individual ingredients have been intentionally abbreviated so that this post is easy to digest(ha!). Admittedly, the separate ingredients all deserve their own posts to fully illustrate their healing capacities.


1. Frawley, David, Lad, Vasant (2001)The Yoga of Herbs. p.  109, 112-113, 121-122, 149-150,  Lotus press.

2. Pole, Sebastian (2013) Ayurvedic Medicine.  p. 151, 162, 183, 217,282,  London: Singing Dragon.

2. Examining the evidence for the use of vitamin C in the prophylaxis and treatment of the common cold.

Heimer KA, Hart AM, Martin LG, Rubio-Wallace S.

J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2009 May;21(5):295-300. Review.


3. Methylglyoxal-infused honey mimics the anti-Staphylococcus aureus biofilm activity of manukahoney: potential implication in chronic rhinosinusitis.

Jervis-Bardy J, Foreman A, Bray S, Tan L, Wormald PJ.

Laryngoscope. 2011 May;121(5):1104-7. doi: 10.1002/lary.21717.

4. Bioactive Lipids, Radical Scavenging Potential, and Antimicrobial Properties ofCold Pressed Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) Oil.

Assiri AM, Hassanien MF.

J Med Food. 2013 Nov;16(11):1046-56. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2012.0288. Epub 2013 Nov 4.


5. In vitro investigation of the potential immunomodulatory and anti-cancer activities of black pepper (Piper nigrum) and cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum).

Majdalawieh AF, Carr RI.

J Med Food. 2010 Apr;13(2):371-81. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2009.1131.


6. Sesquiterpenoids from Curcuma wenyujin with anti-influenza viral activities.

Dong JY, Ma XY, Cai XQ, Yan PC, Yue L, Lin C, Shao WW.

Phytochemistry. 2013 Jan;85:122-8. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2012.09.008. Epub 2012 Oct 22.


7. Antibacterial effect of Zingiber officinale and Garcinia kola on respiratory tract pathogens.

Akoachere JF, Ndip RN, Chenwi EB, Ndip LM, Njock TE, Anong DN.

East Afr Med J. 2002 Nov;79(11):588-92.



Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS