As much as I love fall and even enjoy the crispness of winter as the holidays approach, there is one thing I don’t enjoy. That is the colds and flu that come along with it. And unless you approach this season with the mindset of holing up somewhere and never getting out (thank you Amazon for almost making that possible), you’re inevitably going to be exposed to it. Even the healthiest of us will still suffer from the occasional scratchy throat, runny nose, and hacking cough.
As a mom, the worst is seeing my kiddos suffer. Painful sore throats can be the worst. So how do I ease the pain and avoid meds with harmful side effects? Herbs and oils of course! And one of my favorite go-to is a hot toddy. Nothing soothes a sore or scratchy throat or calms a cough like a warm drink. Add in the health giving ingredients in a hot toddy and we see why this little drink has been so useful for so long.
The classic hot toddy contains honey, whiskey or bourbon, and lemon juice. So before we go any further, let me clarify a few things. Yes, the classic hot toddy contains alcohol. Yes, there actually is some medicinal benefit of adding it. (I’ll explain below.) No, as a personal conviction, we don’t consume alcohol, but do believe there is a place for medical use of it. No, I don’t recommend serving up alcohol to your kiddo when they are sick. That’s why I have added a few ingredients and removed the alcohol to make it family friendly and even more tasty.
And if you’re wondering, I have had the classic hot toddy. Our parents and grandparents swore by it, and I will occasionally add the alcohol to mine or the hubby’s to get the added benefit. So what exactly is the benefit? Let’s take a look at each ingredient.
Hot Toddy Ingredients:
- Alcohol– dilates your blood vessels which allows your mucus membranes to deal with the excess phlegm.(1) Alcohol can also relax the body and promote sleep which is super important when battling any bug. And did you know that alcohol was actually allowed during prohibition with a doctor’s prescription?(2) But remember, this is not an excuse to get drunk. Alcohol is a diuretic, so too much can lead to dehydration. And when fighting any infection, it’s important to stay hydrated. It’s best to stick to the recipe and only drink one a day if using the alcohol.
- Honey-has antimicrobial properties which help battle bacteria causing infections. Not only will it soothe, it helps fight the cause of the pain. Honey is anti-inflammatory, and full of antioxidants and nutrients. It coats the throat and can soothe irritation. (Local honey is best, but this is also a great options.)
- Lemon– astringent properties help reduce inflamed tissue in throat. The high citric acid content help break up the mucus that often causes soreness. Lemon also has antiseptic properties that help fight the bacteria or virus causing infections. For best results juice your own lemon or use cold pressed lemon juice. (This is the brand I buy from my local grocery store.)
- Cinnamon– according to one study, cinnamon can slow the growth of bacteria and fungus-including staph.(3) It has tons of antioxidants. Cinnamon is also anti-inflammatory and immune boosting. (I buy these or from here.)
- Clove– high in antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. Because of clove’s high phenol content, it can produce an anesthetic effect which has been shown to alleviate gum pain, but this can also work to soothe a sore throat. (I buy my clove here.)
- Eucalyptus (Radiata or Smithii) essential oil– well known for it’s ability to relieve congestion and support the respiratory system. In this case, it is used internally, but IS NOT RECOMMENDED BY ANYONE UNDER AGE 13, PREGNANT OR BREASTFEEDING, OR THOSE WITH ANY SEIZURE DISORDER. Eucalyptus is an amazing oil, but should be used with care-especially internally. Therefore, this is an optional ingredient even for adults.
You may be asking how this is safe for the whole family. You can simply leave out the alcohol and the eucalyptus for kiddos (or for adults). With the addition of the cinnamon and clove and keeping the lemon, honey and hot water this drink still packs a powerful punch to a sore throat. The kid friendly hot toddy will still soothe a sore throat and has tons of antimicrobial, antiseptic and even some anesthetic properties. Plus it even tastes good to boot!
This is one herbal drink my kiddos never complain about taking. They will drink this down in no time and even chew on the cinnamon stick afterward. Yes! We eat the cinnamon stick as well. It will typically be a bit softer after soaking in the warm drink leaving it easier to chew. And I don’t mind them chewing on this stick since that’s just more goodness going in them.
So now that you have seen what each ingredient adds to the drink and how to make it family friendly, let’s get to the recipe.
There you have it. A new twist on the classic hot toddy that can benefit the whole family. Hopefully you won’t have to use this any time soon, but when a sore throat hits hard, now you have one more remedy in your herbal medicine cabinet.