6 Teas & Tonics to Supercharge Your Health This Winter

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Do you need a rejuvenating boost to get over the winter blahs? Thanks to less sunshine, colder weather, dry skin, holiday stress, and cravings for high-carb comfort foods, winter can be a challenging time to feel your best. Plus, it’s extra tough to stay well when you’re constantly surrounded by people with Covid, the flu, and other potentially serious viral infections.

The good news is, keeping healthy and vibrant can be simple when you incorporate rejuvenating health tonics into your daily routine. These energizing beverages are supercharged with powerful immune-supportive herbs, spices, and other botanicals to strengthen your immune system, lift energy and mood, help tackle germs that sneak through, and relieve symptoms should illness strike.

Here are six recipes that make it easy to shake the winter blues and thrive during the colder months.

Herbal Tea & Tonic Recipes

A Trio of Spices Tea

This sweet and spicy tea is made with ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric, and it helps recharge your immune system, fight off illness, balance your blood sugar, and keep you going all winter long.

Ginger adds numerous healing powers to this warming brew. (1) Studies confirm ginger’s effectiveness against a long list of diseases (2), including:

  • Viral and bacterial infections
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Dementia
  • High cholesterol
  • GI (gastrointestinal) upset
  • Migraines

Along with its ability to fight off viruses and calm inflammation, cinnamon helps keep blood sugar under control — a must when the cold weather has you craving more carbs. (3) Clinical trials show that cinnamon lowers fasting blood sugar and improves insulin response in people with diabetes and prediabetes. (4)

Best known for its bright golden color, turmeric contains curcumin, one of the world’s most studied natural compounds. Packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, this Indian spice offers substantial immune protection, helping to combat viruses, bacteria, free radicals, and inflammation. (5) Clinical studies show that curcumin in turmeric helps to reduce cancer risk, ease depression, and alleviate arthritis pain (in some cases, as effectively as NSAIDs.(6, 7, 8)

Makes 2 cups

  • 1½ tsp. fresh turmeric, grated
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 cups of water
  1. Put turmeric, ginger, cinnamon sticks, and water in uncovered medium saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20–30 minutes (flavors intensify with more time).
  3. Strain tea into two cups and enjoy.

Stress-Be-Gone Tulsi Tea

The Hindu religion considers tulsi – also known as holy basil – sacred, and it is revered for its therapeutic potential. This ancient medicinal herb acts as an adaptogen, a compound that brings balance to your body. Along with that balance, tulsi also has strong detoxifying properties that help your body deal with a wide variety of stressors (from pollution to emotional distress to cold weather). (9) Tulsi also helps provide protection against bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. (10)

Clinical trials show that tulsi effectively treats a variety of health conditions, including: (11)

  • Viral infections
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Gout
  • High blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic stress

You can count on this “Queen of Herbs” to keep you healthy, balanced, and calm (yet also energetic) all winter long.

Makes 2 cups

  • 2 tsp. dried tulsi leaves
  • 2 cups boiling water
  1. Place 1 tsp. dried tulsi leaves in each cup (works best with a tea ball).
  2. Pour boiling water into each cup, then cover cups and let steep for at least five minutes.
  3. Strain infusion (or remove tea ball) and enjoy.
  4. For an extra healthy boost, you can steep your tulsi tea with ginger and cinnamon for added spice, or with hibiscus flower for a hint of sweetness and greater benefits.

Hibiscus Antiviral Tea

Hibiscus plants offer much more than garden decoration. Since ancient times, hibiscus flowers have been brewed into medicinal teas and used as remedies for everything from constipation to liver disease. Modern research shows that hibiscus can treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol, fight obesity, and kill cancer cells. (12, 13, 14)

And when it comes to keeping you healthy during the winter season, this sweet-tart tea really shines. Studies show that hibiscus has strong antiviral properties — strong enough to kill even highly infectious strains of bird flu and other deadly flu viruses. (15, 16) Hibiscus also boosts your immune system’s own effectiveness when pathogens attack.

Makes 2 cups

  • 1½ tbsp. dried hibiscus flowers
  • 2 cups water
  1. Place water in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil.
  2. Turn off the heat, then add in hibiscus flowers.
  3. Cover the mixture and let it steep for 15–20 minutes.
  4. Strain the tea into two cups and enjoy.
  5. For a flavorful health boost, steep your hibiscus tea with a cinnamon stick.

Easy Elderberry Syrup Tonic

When it comes to fighting colds and flu, elderberry is a time-honored remedy that offers potent support. (17) Numerous human clinical trials have shown that elderberry shortens the duration of infections and relieves symptoms quickly. (18, 19) One study found that flu patients taking elderberry got symptom relief four days faster and used less medication than people taking placebo. (20)

Along with fighting infections, elderberry supplies several essential vitamins and minerals, offers protection against inflammation, strengthens the immune system, and regulates blood sugar. (21, 22)

Elderberry syrup is commonly found wherever vitamins and herbs are sold. You can turn any hot beverage into an antiviral powerhouse by adding elderberry syrup. Mix a spoonful into a cup of herbal tea to make a sweet and tangy winter tonic.

Nourishing Mushroom Tea

Medicinal mushrooms come packed with curative compounds that can help you sail through the winter without even a sniffle. And when those medicinal mushrooms are combined in a healing blend, the immune protective powers multiply. Some of the most well-studied medicinal mushrooms are:

  • Coriolus (Turkey Tail)
  • Ganoderma (Reishi)
  • Agaricus
  • Cordyceps
  • Umbellatus
  • Maitake

These mushrooms offer strong antiviral and antibacterial activity, fighting off cold and flu viruses while nudging your immune system into action. (23) On top of that, medicinal mushrooms have been shown in several clinical trials to help fight various forms of cancer, improve quality of life for people suffering from chronic diseases, and restore healthy kidney function. (24, 25, 26)

Add a teaspoon of botanically enhanced medicinal mushroom powder to one cup of hot water for natural immune support. Sweeten with honey or enjoy as a savory brew. For added immune protection, you can mix medicinal mushroom powder into any hot drink, including cocoa, chai tea, and coffee. You can even add a shot of mushroom powder into your favorite soup.

Citrusy Health Tonic

For immune system support, gentle detox action, and powerful protection against numerous health conditions, add clinically proven Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP) to your daily routine. The key is to use the correct, extensively researched form of MCP (PectaSol), which is highly bioavailable and bioactive throughout the body. (27) This original form of MCP has been substantiated in more than 80 published studies over the past few decades, and is shown to deliver essential benefits for our most critical areas of health:

  • Increases immune system activity (28)
  • Removes toxic metals (like lead and mercury) (29)
  • Prevents cancer from metastasizing (30)
  • Stops tumor growth and kills cancer cells (31)
  • Fights inflammation (32)
  • Reduces risk of heart disease, including atherosclerosis (hardened arteries), (33) and heart failure (34)

Add one scoop of MCP powder to one cup of hot water for soothing immune-system support; include a squirt of lemon juice to brighten the flavor. You can also add a scoop of MCP to your favorite herbal tea. Make sure to stir briskly so the powder dissolves completely. MCP works best on an empty stomach, so drink this healthy tonic away from food.

Lift your tea mug or tonic glass to greater vitality with the power of time-tested, research-backed wellness tonics. These seasonal superheroes deliver outstanding protection and therapeutic benefits, and they boost long-term vitality— not just during cold and flu season, but all year long.


1)  Bode AM, Dong Z. The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter 7. 

2)  Rahmani AH, Shabrmi FM, Aly SM. Active ingredients of ginger as potential candidates in the prevention and treatment of diseases via modulation of biological activities. Int J Physiol Pathophysiol Pharmacol. 2014;6(2):125–136. Published 2014 Jul 12.

3)  Ranasinghe, P., Pigera, S., Premakumara, G.S. et al. Medicinal properties of ‘true’ cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): a systematic review. BMC Complement Altern Med 13, 275 (2013).

4)  Deyno S, et al. Efficacy and safety of cinnamon in type 2 diabetes mellitus and pre-diabetes patients: A meta-analysis and meta-regression. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2019 Oct;156:107815.

5)  Gupta SC, et al. Multitargeting by turmeric, the golden spice: From kitchen to clinic. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013 Sep;57(9):1510-28.

6)  Gupta SC, Patchva S, Aggarwal BB. Therapeutic roles of curcumin: lessons learned from clinical trials. AAPS J. 2013;15(1):195–218. doi:10.1208/s12248-012-9432-8

7)  Fusar-Poli L, et al. Curcumin for depression: a meta-analysis. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019 Aug 19:1-11.

8)  Shep, D., Khanwelkar, C., Gade, P. et al. Safety and efficacy of curcumin versus diclofenac in knee osteoarthritis: a randomized open-label parallel-arm study. Trials 20, 214 (2019).

9)  Cohen MM. Tulsi – Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2014;5(4):251–259. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.146554

10)  Prakash P, Gupta N. Therapeutic uses of Ocimum sanctum Linn (Tulsi) with a note on eugenol and its pharmacological actions: a short review. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2005 Apr;49(2):125-31.

11)  Jamshidi N, Cohen MM. The Clinical Efficacy and Safety of Tulsi in Humans: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:9217567.

12)  Hopkins AL, Lamm MG, Funk JL, Ritenbaugh C. Hibiscus sabdariffa L. in the treatment of hypertension and hyperlipidemia: a comprehensive review of animal and human studies. Fitoterapia. 2013;85:84–94.

13)  Morales-Luna E, Pérez-Ramírez IF, Salgado LM, Castaño-Tostado E, Gómez-Aldapa CA, Reynoso-Camacho R. The main beneficial effect of roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on obesity is not only related to its anthocyanin content. J Sci Food Agric. 2019 Jan 30;99(2)

14)  Nguyen C, Baskaran K, Pupulin A, et al. Hibiscus flower extract selectively induces apoptosis in breast cancer cells and positively interacts with common chemotherapeutics. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2019;19(1):98.

15)  Baatartsogt T, Bui VN, Trinh DQ, et al. High antiviral effects of hibiscus tea extract on the H5 subtypes of low and highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses. J Vet Med Sci. 2016;78(9):1405–1411.

16)  Takeda Y, Okuyama Y, Nakano H, Yaoita Y, Machida K, Ogawa H, Imai K. Antiviral Activities of Hibiscus sabdariffa L. Tea Extract Against Human Influenza A Virus Rely Largely on Acidic pH but Partially on a Low-pH-Independent Mechanism. Food Environ Virol. 2019 Oct 16. doi: 10.1007/s12560-019-09408-x. [Epub ahead of print]

17)  Krawitz C, Mraheil MA, Stein M, et al. Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11:16.

18)  Tiralongo E, Wee SS, Lea RA. Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Nutrients. 2016;8(4):182.

19)  Hawkins J, Baker C, Cherry L, Dunne E. Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplementation effectively treats upper respiratory symptoms: A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trials. Complement Ther Med. 2019 Feb;42:361-365.

20)  Zakay-Rones Z, Thom E, Wollan T, Wadstein J. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. J Int Med Res. 2004 Mar-Apr;32(2):132-40.

21)  Ho GT, Wangensteen H, Barsett H. Elderberry and Elderflower Extracts, Phenolic Compounds, and Metabolites and Their Effect on Complement, RAW 264.7 Macrophages and Dendritic Cells. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;18(3):584.

22)  Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Elderberry. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Website. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/elderberry-01. Accessed January 22, 2020.

23)  Lindequist U, Niedermeyer TH, Jülich WD. The pharmacological potential of mushrooms. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2005;2(3):285–299.

24)  Wasser SP. Medicinal Mushrooms in Human Clinical Studies. Part I. Anticancer, Oncoimmunological, and Immunomodulatory Activities: A Review. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2017;19(4):279-317.

25)  Chang Y, Zhang M, Jiang Y, Liu Y, Luo H, Hao C, Zeng P, Zhang L. Preclinical and clinical studies of Coriolus versicolor polysaccharopeptide as an immunotherapeutic in China. Discov Med. 2017 Apr;23(127):207-219.

26)  Zhang HW, Lin ZX, Tung YS, Kwan TH, Mok CK, Leung C, Chan LS. Cordyceps sinensis (a traditional Chinese medicine) for treating chronic kidney disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Dec 18;(12).

27)  Eliaz I, Raz A. Pleiotropic Effects of Modified Citrus Pectin. Nutrients. 2019 Nov 1;11(11).

28)  Ramachandran C, et al. Activation of human T-helper/inducer cell, T-cytotoxic cell, B-cell, and natural killer (NK)-cells and induction of natural killer cell activity against K562 chronic myeloid leukemia cells with modified citrus pectin. BMC Complement and Altern Med. 2011 Aug 4;11:59.

29)  Eliaz I, Weil E, Wilk B. Integrative medicine and the role of modified citrus pectin/alginates in heavy metal chelation and detoxification–five case reports. Forsch Komplementmed. 2007 Dec;14(6):358-64.

30)  Glinsky VV, Raz A. Modified citrus pectin anti-metastatic properties: one bullet, multiple targets. Carbohydr Res. 2009;344(14):1788–1791.

31)  Fang T, Liu DD, Ning HM, et al. Modified citrus pectin inhibited bladder tumor growth through downregulation of galectin-3. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2018;39(12):1885–1893.

32)  Ramachandran C, Wilk B, Melnick SJ, Eliaz I. Synergistic Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effects between Modified Citrus Pectin and Honokiol. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:8379843.

33)  MacKinnon AC, Liu X, Hadoke PW, Miller MR, Newby DE, Sethi T. Inhibition of galectin-3 reduces atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. Glycobiology. 2013;23(6):654–663.

34)  Suthahar N, Meijers WC, Silljé HHW, Ho JE, Liu FT, de Boer RA. Galectin-3 Activation and Inhibition in Heart Failure and Cardiovascular Disease: An Update. Theranostics. 2018;8(3):593–609.

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