SUPPORT FOR THE LIVER: WARMING HERBS & SPICES: Consuming herbs and spices that are warming, dry, and stimulating counteracts the cool, damp nature of spring. When cool, damp, and rich foods are consumed, an increase of those qualities will manifest in the body as symptoms of excessive dampness, such as congestion and slowed digestion. It is best to avoid or minimize cool, damp, and rich foods such as dairy, sweets, and watery, raw vegetables during this season. Adding warming and stimulating herbs and spices to the diet during this cool, damp season helps rid the body of excess dampness, encouraging balance in a most delicious way! Warming herbs and spices include black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, garlic, and ginger.

Black Pepper (Piper nigrum): is rich in vitamins and minerals such as copper, magnesium, calcium, iron, Vitamins C, B2, and B6. It also has a high fiber content which is essential for good digestion. Black pepper promotes the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, and due to its carminative nature, it helps ease flatulence. Black pepper helps to eliminate toxins from the body through increased urination and sweating. It also cleans out impurities stuck in pores, uric acid, urea, fat and excess water. Black pepper is used to provide relief from sinusitis and nasal congestion. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that cure stomach ulcers and fight problems arising due to stomach mucosal damage. When consumed with other nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, black pepper increases the body’s ability to absorb maximum nutrition. It increases the bio-availability and accessibility of nutrients.

Cayenne (Capsicum annuum): Cayenne is used to help digestion, including easing an upset stomach, slowing intestinal gas, stopping stomach pain and diarrhea, and as a natural remedy for cramps. Cayenne is also used for conditions of the heart and blood vessels including improving poor circulation, reversing excessive blood clotting, lowering high cholesterol, and preventing heart disease. When consumed, cayenne pepper has the power to relieve a toothache, seasickness, alcoholism, malaria, and fever. It’s also used to help people who have difficulty swallowing.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum): in addition to its use as a flavoring agent and preservative in foods, Cardamom has been used to treat a range of different ailments, including stomach and digestive problems, morning sickness, viral, bacterial, and fungal infections, cold symptoms, bronchitis, inflammation of the mouth or pharynx, liver and gallbladder problems, epilepsy, headache, cardiovascular disease, and appetite stimulation. Cardamom is an aromatic seed pod used in many Indian recipes such as a creamy kheer or a rich biryani. It lends a distinct aroma and a sweet flavor to foods. The pods have a longer shelf life than the fresh or ground herb.

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum): has traditionally been used to treat toothache, fight bad breath, promote overall health and feeling of well-being, improve cognitive function and memory, remove impurities from the blood, stop bleeding and facilitate the healing process, aid in digestion and ease symptoms of indigestion, nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, diarrhea and flatulence, and help with cold, flu, influenza, sore throat. Cinnamon is high in anti-oxidants, and regular drinking of Cinnamon Tea is beneficial to oxidative stress related illness, is diuretic in nature, and helps in secretion and discharge of urine.

Garlic (Allium sativum): used for at least 5,000 years as a food and an herb, garlic’s strong odor and pungency, and its primary constituent, allicin, has proven effects on the cardiovascular system, infections, the respiratory system, and blood sugar. An immune system stimulant, diaphoretic, expectorant, and antimicrobial, raw garlic cloves are used to support the body’s response to respiratory conditions in the winter months. Garlic can ease some of the discomforts of a cold through its anti-inflammatory action, as well as shorten its duration by stimulating the immune system, thinning mucus, and throwing off a fever.

Ginger: (Zingiber officinale): contains the compounds gingerol and shogaol that help fight off a cold because they can lower a fever, reduce pain, and suppress a cough. These compounds have a warming effect, which is believed to help with cold symptoms. Ginger keeps the body warm, while also helping it body sweat and get rid of infections. Other traditional medical uses for ginger include treating muscle and joint pain, cold and flu symptoms, stomach pain, menstrual cramps, and skin burns.

FIRE CIDER RECIPE: Fire Cider is a must-have oxymel for spring renewal! This is a base recipe that can be really flexible. Some other great additions include cinnamon sticks, astragalus root, and violet flowers. Ingredients: 1 large red onion, chopped, 3 heads garlic, chopped, 1 lemon with peel, diced, ½ cup fresh ginger, grated, ½ cup fresh turmeric, grated, ¼ cup fresh horseradish root, grated, ¼ cup fresh thyme aerial parts, chopped, 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper, a few fresh cayenne peppers, honey to taste, and apple cider vinegar. Directions: Place all ingredients except honey in a half-gallon glass jar, and cover by a few inches with apple cider vinegar. Cut a square of waxed paper and cover the mouth of the jar before tightly capping it with a lid. Store in a dark cupboard for a few weeks, shaking the jar daily. After 3 weeks, your fire cider will pack a punch, but you can keep infusing for much longer if desired. Once done infusing, strain out the herbs from the liquid, or blend the whole batch in a blender and let it sit for an additional week, without shaking for the last few days to let the ingredients settle. Strain the fire cider, add warmed raw honey to taste, starting with about ⅓ cup, mix thoroughly, and bottle. Refrigerate the final preparation and use it within 6 months. Don’t forget to label! Dose: take 1 tablespoon once a day as a tonic or up to 3 times daily during the infectious stage.

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