In the UK, the autumn is closing in, the nights are getting longer, the wind is blowing the coloured leaves all over the place, and people are wrapping up warm against the elements and the oncoming cold and flu season. 2020 is made more unusual with the existence of the COVID19 pandemic, and while this isn’t a post about that specifically, this easy-to-make drink is a really great health booster, tonic and pick-me-up.
The recipe was given to me by an old friend who has since passed away and is based on what I call “the wisdom of the elders.” In the past, people turned to nature as their medicine cabinet and it is said that for every ailment or disease there is a cure in nature. My friend said to me that at the first sign of a sniffle or feeling under the weather, she reaches for a lemon. She then simply juices the whole lemon and pours it into a cup of hot water, adds a generous spoon of honey, mixes it together and sips it while its still warm.
Honey & Lemon Cold Remedy
- Lemon Juicer
- 1 Lemon
- 1 tbsp Honey
- 1 cup Hot Water
- Boil some water and pour into your cup
- Halve the lemon and squeeze the juice from both halves. Remove seeds.
- Pour the lemon juice into your hot water
- Add the honey and stir
- Drink & Enjoy!
This may be an old wives’ tale – that it’s a cold cure – but I have found it an excellent natural medicine booster when I start to feel under the weather. I’m not claiming it’s a medical cure or a replacement for medicines, but it’s a great natural tonic you can enjoy with just a few minutes preparation. And please check if you can drink this safely – the ingredients do have effects such as lowering blood pressure, increasing blood sugar, etc, so please check if you have any conditions which may be impacted by the ingredients with a qualified doctor or your nutritionist.
I drink it on days when I feel a little run down and I may only drink it one day and feel great the next, or drink it for a couple of days in a row. It’s natural and good for you, and as you’ll see below is not just a handy go-to medicine but can be used every day to improve your overall health.
I wouldn’t drink it before bed – the Vitamin C content might keep you awake – but first thing in the morning (over breakfast) or through into the afternoon are all good.
Why Are Lemons So Good?
- Lemons are packed with Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant (which plays a key role in your body’s immune function) and is water-soluble, and helps the body form and preserve connective tissue as well as bones, blood vessels and skin. An average lemon provides around 35-40% of your RDA of vitamin C – just the boost you need in cold and flu season.
- Lemons can decrease blood cholesterol. Lemons contain pectin which is a soluble dietary fibre essential for colon health. Pectin binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract and decelerates glucose absorption by trapping carbohydrates. Consumption of pectin has been shown to decrease blood cholesterol levels. Also, as pectin breaks down this releases short-chain fatty acids which have positive health benefits.
- Lemons are alkalizing. Lemon has a pH of around 2.2 and, although this is an acid, inside the body, the digestion process alkalizes our body. Think of it like the body balancing out the effect of introducing an acid – it becomes more alkaline.
- Lemon boosts liver function. Warm lemon juice on waking helps flush toxins out of the liver due to its bitterness. The liver is a giant filter in your body and lemon is a natural cleanser. The warm lemon juice promotes better skin (as mentioned above) and can help calm minor throat and breathing problems.
- Lemon boosts the metabolism.
- Lemon boosts gallbladder function. The bitterness of the lemon helps our bodies produce bile which aids our digestion. If we have a diet heavy in fats and animal-based foods, this helps promote healthy digestion. Again, drinking this in the morning has the best effect for the liver and gallbladder.
- Lemons can help digestion. Lemons contain phytochemicals and polyphenols (micronutrients full of antioxidants). Polyphenols can help with digestion issues, weight management problems, diabetes, neurodegenerative illness and circulatory issues.
- Lemons are antibacterial. They are powerful against the growth of pathogenic bacteria that cause such infections as malaria, diphtheria and typhoid.
- Lemons strengthen the blood. The bioflavonoids in lemon help prevent internal haemorrhage by way of strengthening the blood vessels, which also benefits people with high blood pressure. A study in the Journal of Nutrition based on over 30,000 women found that women who consumed at least two servings of citrus fruits each day showed 20% lower levels of endothelial stress-linked biomarkers and a significant improvement in markers of blood vessel function compared to those who did not frequently eat citrus fruits.
- Honey contains bioactive plant compounds and antioxidants. These include organic acids and phenolic compounds like flavonoids. Antioxidants have been linked to a reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes and some types of cancer. They may also promote eye health (as does lemon above).
- Honey is a natural replacement for sugar. If you are diabetic, consume honey with caution – it still raises blood sugar levels. Your honey should also be pure and not mixed with plain syrup (which is illegal in most countries but still happens).
- Antioxidants can help lower blood pressure.
- Honey helps improve cholesterol levels. Several studies show that honey may improve your cholesterol levels. It reduces total and “bad” LDL cholesterol while significantly raising “good” HDL cholesterol. For example, one study in 55 patients compared honey to table sugar and found that honey caused a 5.8% reduction in LDL and a 3.3% increase in HDL cholesterol.
- Honey can lower triglycerides. Elevated blood triglycerides are another risk factor for heart disease and they are also associated with insulin resistance, a major driver of type 2 diabetes. Triglyceride levels tend to increase on a diet high in sugar and refined carbs. Multiple studies have linked regular honey consumption with lower triglyceride levels, especially when it is used to replace sugar.
- Honey promotes burn and wound healing through antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. Topical honey treatment has been used to heal wounds and burns since ancient Egypt and is still common today. One study reported a 43.3% success rate with honey as a wound treatment. In another study, topical honey healed 97% of patients’ diabetic ulcers. Researchers believe that honey’s healing powers come from its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects as well as its ability to nourish surrounding tissue.
- Honey can help suppress coughs. Coughing is a common problem for children with upper respiratory infections. These infections can affect sleep and quality of life for both children and parents. However, mainstream medications for cough are not always effective and can have side effects. Interestingly, honey may be a better choice, and evidence indicates it is very effective. From my experience as an adult, it also soothes the throat and helps in the same way.