Easy at-home herbal remedies for winter immunity support

Oxymel an ancient herbal concoction that has stood the test of time. Source: Getty

In our quest for natural ways to support our immunity during the winter season, at-home herbal remedies offer a fascinating solution.

To explore these age-old remedies, Starts at 60 spoke to Tracy Gaibisso, a herbalist, and naturopathy lecturer at Endeavour College of Natural Health. Tracy’s expertise shines through as she introduces us to the remarkable oxymel, an ancient herbal concoction that has stood the test of time.

This herbal remedy dates back to ancient times, with the word translating to “acid and honey” in ancient Greek. Traditionally a mixture of apple cider vinegar, honey and a selection of immune herbs such as garlic, ginger and horseradish, it can be whipped up easily at home and provide immune support during the cooler months.

Oxymel recipe ingredients

  • 6-12 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • ½ cup rosemary (fresh is best but can use dried)
  • ½ cup sage (fresh is best but can use dried)
  • ¼ cup of thyme (fresh is best but can use dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Apple cider vinegar

Method

  1. Sterilise a glass jar (reuse a jam jar or anything else you have handy)
  2. Combine the garlic and herbs in the jar roughly bruising some of the herbs if fresh. 
  3. Fill the jar with enough vinegar to cover the herbs and leave an inch or so above them. Ensure all herbs are covered fully.
  4. Cover tightly and let sit in a warm spot for approximately three weeks, stirring daily.
  5. At the end of three weeks, strain out the herbs, rebottle the vinegar and add 1/2-1 cup of honey. Try and fill jar completely to reduce oxygen and keep honey layer thick enough so that garlic does not oxidise or grow mould. 
  6. Stir well and store in the fridge. It will keep for at least three months. 
  7. Take 1-2 tablespoons daily (including garlic pieces if you can tolerate it) or if you feel yourself coming down with a cold you can take it more often (every 3-4 hours).
  8. You can also use this as a marinade, or flavouring agent in dressings.

For another instant at-home immunity hit, Tracy recommends whipping up this ginger and lemon tea.

Lemon is high in vitamin C and ginger can have an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effect when drunk as a tea, so these plant-based antivirals can work together to enhance immune function and support a healthy microbiome.

Here is a recipe to try:

  1. 1 lemon – skin removed
  2. A 5cm knob of ginger
  3. 1 litre of water
  4. 1 tablespoon of unprocessed honey
  5. A pinch of cayenne pepper
  6. In a high-speed blender, blitz the ginger and lemon
  7. Place blitzed ingredients in a saucepan on low heat, add water and cook on a low heat until gently simmering, to make a tea
  8. Add honey to taste and a pinch of cayenne pepper

Learn more about gut health and herbal remedies in new short online courses at endeavourshortcourses.edu.au

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