Traditional winter wisdom

In her December column Naomi Murray from Botanica Health on Rusthall High Street extols the virtues of winding down during the winter months and also shares a recipe for a deliciously comforting and healthy hot toddy


The more I witness and watch, the more I realise the wisdom of our forefathers.

Our ancestors would have experienced a time of food scarcity during the winter months. The lack of sunlight causes the body to store more fat and in the past this would have been beneficial. They would have had to find shelter and adapt to the cold as best they could.

Days are shorter and darkness comes before we know it.  This darkness prompts the body to promote more melatonin, promoting sleep. So, do these environmental cues lead us to the fact that we need to do things differently? We are meant to go to bed earlier. We are meant to rest. We are meant to slow down.


“Hopefully these last few years have taught us all the importance of supporting our immunity through wholesome food, sunlight, movement and sleep”


Wisdom has carried on through the generations. Do you remember being told to wear a scarf? There is some interesting science behind this.

When we inhale cold air into the nasal passages, the temperature in the nose decreases and this provides a more favourable temperature for the cold virus to replicate. When we are cold we are much more likely to be susceptible to viruses.

Wrap up. Wear a scarf and hat and keep warm!

Hopefully these last few years have taught us all the importance of supporting our immunity through wholesome food, sunlight, movement and sleep. We are in control.


Winter warmer Hot Toddy

If you happen to succumb to a winter virus this is the most lovely warming remedy.

This anti-inflammatory, anti-viral winter warmer Hot Toddy is perfect for the season of winter ailments. Take as a preventative or when feeling under the weather.

It truly is medicinal and evokes such a feeling of warmth and protection it is sure to be loved by the whole family.

All these ingredients support immunity.



Ginger – contains potent properties called gingerols that inhibit and tame the inflammation process that occurs during illness. It is warming and promotes mild sweating.

Star Anise – in 2005 the world was in short supply of this oriental spice due to the drug company Roche using it extensively in creating Tamiflu the drug against SARS Avian flu. It helps the body fight off illness and strengthens the immune system.

Cinnamon – research shows that cinnamon fights resistant bacterial and viral infections. It also stabilizes blood sugar, has anti-clotting effects and combined with honey has been shown to relieve arthritic pain.

Juniper – acts as a natural decongestant and moves excess mucus from the respiratory tract and dilates bronchial tubes. Care should be taken with juniper during pregnancy.

Heather honey –  has been shown to be particularly effective in combating MRSA and research shows it is more beneficial than the more popular Manuka honey.


What to do:

In a teapot add a thumb sized piece of grated ginger, 4 crushed juniper berries, 4 star anise, 2 cinnamon sticks and a pinch of chilli flakes.

Pour over boiling water and infuse for around 10 minutes.

In a cup add a freshly squeezed lemon and 1 heaped teaspoon of heather or raw honey. Pour hot toddy through a strainer into a cup. Topping cup up as needed.

Sometimes I use oranges instead but the lemons provide an alkalising effect.


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