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Lemony Ginger Winter Immune Tonic

lemon ginger honey


This simple recipe is a formula to kindle the inner fires, promote healthy circulation, and hydrate the tissues.

Remember when Grandma would make a home remedy of hot lemon and honey whenever someone was sick? Some grandmothers might have added ginger, others a dash of cinnamon, some a pinch of black pepper, and the bold even added a shot of brandy.

Grandmother’s medicine is a lot like Ayurveda. It is based on intuitive intelligence, and includes a lot of what I call Kitchen Wisdom, with healing ingredients you can find in almost any kitchen.

For instance, Grandma knew that in the winter, when it is chilly, often windy and dry, the very best way to prevent or treat a cold, is to keep warm and hydrated. From this simple premise came chicken soup, spicy teas, the hot toddy, and, as my English friend Jane says, “A po’ o’ lemon,” which translates into American as hot water stirred with the juice of a fresh squeezed lemon.

A wonderful “Grandmother Recipe” that we drink at home and which exemplifies the best of Ayurveda ~ botanical, simple, accessible, and highly effective ~  is the Lemony Ginger Tonic.

Ginger stimulates agni, the digestive and metabolic fires that burn away toxins and quell tummy upset.  It is warming, calming, balancing, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and analgesic, helping to help reduce anxiety, inflammation, asthma, congestion, cough, and cramps. 

Lemon is refreshing, immune-boosting and adds a sunny zest. Cinnamon is antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-clotting, balancing to blood sugar and energizing to the brain. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, blood and liver cleanser. Cayenne is a powerful antibacterial, pain-relieving, fat and mucus busting, cholesterol-lowering, blood pressure-regulating, cancer fighter. All three of these everyday spices are amongst the most highly researched herbs in the U.S. today, for their multiple use and safe potency in healing.

From an Ayurvedic point of view, this is a formula to kindle the inner fires, promote healthy circulation, and hydrate the tissues. With meals it stokes the digestive fires, sipped throughout the day it helps keep metabolic fires blazing. Drink it to stay warm, at the onset of a cold to clear the respiratory passage, any time days are gray to banish the blues, or every day and every day to strengthen your immune system.

This drink can be taken first thing in the morning to help rev up your system, or with meals to enhance digestion.

Lemony Ginger Tonic

Makes 2 servings

1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger
1 lemon, juiced
2 cups water
2 teaspoons raw honey
2 good shakes of ground cinnamon
2 gentler shakes of ground turmeric
1 shake cayenne powder

Put ginger into a blender with the lemon juice, water, raw honey and spices. Blend thoroughly and pour into glasses.

Lemony Ginger Tonic is best heated and served warm, but in that case do not add the honey until you have poured the drink into your mug and allowed it to cool to drinking temperature. Honey should not be heated past 120 degrees.

Laura Plumb

Laura Plumb is a practitioner and teacher of Ayurveda, Yoga and Jyotish. She is the writer of the book, Ayurveda Cooking for Beginners, and the writer and host of the international 58-part TV series VedaCleanse, with recipes and daily practices for seasonal wellness. She is also the writer and host of the 12-part series Divine Yoga. Laura leads trainings and retreats internationally, and offers online seasonal cleanses and courses. You can learn more about her at and get more Ayurvedically inspired recipes on her blog:

Learn with Laura! 

Register now for Laura's new online course, Introduction to Ayurvedic Cooking, complete with videos, quizzes, and informative PDFs with beautiful photographs.


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