Witch's Brew

I used to love going over to my grandparents' house when I was little because they would let me make witch's brew from the contents of the pantry. It always wound up looking and smelling the same, but it was fun to imagine I might accidently invent something extraordinary.

These days I still make witch's brew, but it serves a more practical purpose: to mend coughs and colds.

It always begins with ginger, another one of those anciently cultivated whole foods (like my beloved garbanzo bean.) Ginger's potent heat provides anti-nauseant, analgesic, antibacterial, and antipyretic qualities to the ailing body, in addition to aiding with digestive motility. It also increases the production of saliva due to its sialagogue nature. It can even combat flatulence with its carminative benefits.

Is there anything that ginger can't do?

When I have a cold, I combine ginger alongside garlic and lemon to form a foul-tasting, but effective brew. Naturally, this is not the drink to consume before a first date! When I'm feeling under the weather though, I swear by this remedy.

Garlic is supposed to aid in the prevention of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and cancer. There are even discussions about it assisting in diabetes management and acting as a blood thinner like aspirin.

When you have a nasty cough or cold, garlic acts as an expectorant to break down the build up of mucus in your throat, sinuses and lungs. Like ginger, it is an antibiotic.

The most important feature of garlic, however, is that which it is most famous for: its potent smell. Garlic has potent sulfur in it which gets metabolized by the body and forms allyl methyl sulfide. AMS is unable to be digested so it gets passed through the blood and eventually makes its way to the lungs and skin where it is released. In the process of making your skin and breath stink, garlic removes toxins, bacterias and other nasties from your body.

Lastly, the tart lemon adds some extra vitamin C to the brew. It's acidity helps to clear the mucus from the throat and it is also antibacterial because of its low PH. It increases the metabolism and helps to cleanse out the poor liver.


Witches' Brew for Sick Little Witches

6-8 inches of ginger (honestly, the more the merrier)
1/2 head of garlic (or 5-6 cloves)
4 cups of water
1 lemon
honey (to taste)

Slice the ginger and garlic into thin pieces and toss into a pot with the water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Add lemon peel. Simmer 5 more minutes. Add all the juice of the lemon and squeeze honey into individual mugs. Enjoy! ( Well, perhaps enjoy is not the word. It will taste terrible, but it will fix you!)

Note: if you have access to a sauna or steam room, you can speed up the process of the antibiotics and get that allyl methyl sulfide through your system faster so you don't smell like a garlic factory.

Get well soon!


  1. I am in love with your recipes! Dr. Andrew Weil has a great ginger drink, very similar to yours, but it has cayenne too, I drank it a lot when I was pregnant: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/ART00675

  2. Thanks for your comment, Annmarie. I'll have to try the brew with the addition of cayenne!