Tag Archives: cayenne

Quick and Dirty Antiviral

ingredientsI’ve been sick for literally two weeks, and it’s mostly my own fault. I broke the golden rule about being sick, which is to stay home and rest. Instead I hosted huge dinner parties, went to drunken costume benders, partied in Aspen for 5 nights, flew internationally for work and internationally for a wedding. All in two weeks. So obviously I am not recovering, and it’s a miracle that I don’t have something worse. On top of all that, I have probably spread my viral infection across the globe. But enough about me.


Do you feel achy? Shivering? Alternating with sweating? Runny nose? Congested? Exhausted? Headache? Angry? Depressed? Coughing? Ticklish or burning throat? You have a viral infection!

There is a very, very small chance that you have a bacterial infection unless you ate a five-day old lobster salad which travelled to many hot sunny picnics, or if you have some other kind of food-borne illness, but most sicknesses are viral – meaning that you contracted a virus from somewhere.

Technically, a virus is not really an organism since it lacks a nucleus and cell wall. A virus is basically just a strand of DNA or RNA surrounded by a fancy polyhedron which is specific to each virus and studded with sensory receptors. A virus is like a seed, in that it is dormant until its receptors find the right conditions to grow and replicate. The most famous viral epidemic was the Spanish flu in 1918, which globally infected more than 500 million people, and killed at least 130 million. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

When you’re sick, you need to support your recovery with bed rest and easily digestible foods like chicken broth and coconut oil. The last thing you want to do is run around to pharmacies and herbal stores finding preparations, although you probably should.

If the best you can do is make it down to your kitchen to blend up a concoction of what you already have in your cupboard, then this Quick and Dirty Antiviral preparation is for you.


  • At least a thumb size knob of fresh ginger
  • 5 good shakes of dried cayenne, or as much as you can handle
  • 1 TBS of coconut oil
  • 1 Tsp of royal jelly honey or just raw honey (Manuka honey would be a great option)
  • boiling water

You really need a vitamix or powerful blender to shred the ginger and liquefy it so that you can drink it down. I run the vitamix for at least 30 seconds. The concoction turns a lovely yellow opaque color, and I pour it into a clear glass so that I can really appreciate it.

This is a very hot! And spicy! medicine. It’s not something you want to drink every day, nor should you. However, you should drink this at least three times a day when you have a viral infection, which is basically what most cold/flu sickness are.


Ginger is a hemagglutinin inhibitor, which means it stops viruses from attaching to the surface of airway epithelial cells (in the lungs). Once a virus does attach, it softens the cell’s surface and sneaks inside to hide from the immune system. The virus performs this “softening” technique by using an enzyme called neuraminidase. The good news is that ginger is also a neuraminidase-inhibitor, so ginger prevents any breaches to the cell wall.

However if a virus has managed to latch onto a cell wall and alter its structure and sneak inside, it will stimulate the cell to create a vacuole of protection around itself inside the cell. The vacuole needs to stick itself to the inside of the cell wall, which it does with hemagglutinin (a “gluey” substance) – but of course it can’t in the presence of ginger, a hemagglutinin inhibitor.

The chain of events that brings about viral illnesses is called a cytokine cascade – as cytokines are the signaling molecules of the immune system. Ginger prevents some of the early parts of the cascade as well as some of the later parts. However ginger does not prevent all of them. (The full blown cure for severe cytokine storms could require Chinese skullcap, lomatium, elder, licorice, inmortal, pleurisy root, Chinese senega root, boneset, cordyceps, Japanese knotweed, kudzu, astragalus, angelica, salvia, green tea and zinc; but at that point you are heading to a pretty special international herb shop and not just down to your kitchen for a Down and Dirty Antiviral potion).

Ginger is also good at thinning your mucus, which helps you to expel it, and will help to lower your fever during infection.


Many viruses have a lipid coating, such as influenza, herpes, HIV, and cytomegalovirus. This lipid coating can be destroyed by monolaurin, a monoglyceride which is formed in the human body from lauric acid, which we get from human breast milk and coconut oil, and a little bit from pasture-raised ruminant butter. Coconut oil has more lauric acid in it than any other food outside of human breast milk. Its derivative, monolaurin, is not just antiviral, but also antibacterial, anitprotozoal and antimicrobial.


At a general level, cayenne raises body temperatures, makes you sweat, and increases activity of the immune system. It is also high in vitamin C and helps create more white blood cells for your lymphatic system, which troll the body looking for infected cells. Cayenne also increases mucus, which allows you to trap and expel virally infected cells through coughing up phlegm and blowing your nose.


You could write books and books on all the things that honey, royal jelly and propolis can do for human health. In fact, those books have been written and were first written thousands of years ago. The way it works is that bees pick up pollen from medicinal plants in their ecosystem and then concentrate the pollens and ferment them (which increases and changes their medicinal properties) and then expel them as honey, royal jelly, wax and propolis for the benefit of their hive. The medicine they create is complex, and also depends on the ecosystem they are inhabiting. You can pay $50 for mono-crop Manuka honey from Australia, or you can get a $5 jar of your own local regional honey from a farmer’s market. They are both incredible products for healing, and the list of what they can do and can cure is too long for this blog. Beware of pasteurized honey, honey from China (diluted with HFCS), or any large commercial honey which just cannot be trusted in this day and age. Also beware of honey where bees could have been exposed to pesticides and neurotoxins, because those poisons are also concentrated in your honey. If you know of a place where no pesticides are used in a 50 acre radius, consider installing some bee hives and habitats.


Just because honey is basically magic doesn’t mean sugar and carbohydrates are suddenly okay when you have a viral infection. In fact, the opposite is true. When you have the flu (or any viral infection), glucose significantly increases viral load. So when you are sick, the ONLY carbohydrate you should be consuming is a tiny bit of honey. Not gallons of orange juice, not tubs of jello: Just a little bit of honey because of its profound antiviral, antibacterial, anti-etc properties.  Conversely, insulin reduces illness parameters and viral load – however obviously I don’t think you should inject yourself with insulin just to beat a fever. But you should be very, very wary about being hospitalized with a viral infection and immediately put on a glucose drip or offered sugary Pedialyte-type drinks in order to keep your nutrient levels adequate. Sugar feeds your virus, not your immune system. Is that something you want to do?


That oscilloccoccinum homeopathic remedy available at most stores is also great, if you can remember to take it as frequently as required, and at the very first sign of flu.

If you can get to a herbal “pharmacy” or someplace that can make you a custom tincture or tea, ask for something with all or most of the following ingredients: Chinese skullcap, licorice, lomatium, cordyceps, isatis, astragalus, boneset, elder, houttuynia. 

Zinc and vitamin C are also helpful, but watch out for glucose or fake sweeteners in their formulations.


Stephen Harrod Buhner is the consummate authority on natural remedies for emerging and resistant viral infections and bacterial infections. He has written these two books that absolutely deserve shelf space in your Armageddon cupboard:

Herbal Antivirals, by Stephen Harrod Buhner

Herbal Antibiotics, by Stephen Harrod Buhner


ginger drink

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Substitution: Hot Sauce

hot sauce vs ketchupWHAT’S SO WRONG WITH KETCHUP?

On the one hand, good old fashioned ketchup is full of lycopene, the antioxidant from tomatoes that only becomes bio-available after cooking. But on the other hand, the third ingredient in organic Heinz ketchup (after organic tomato paste and organic white vinegar) is organic sugar. This adds up to 5g sugar per tablespoon, which is a lot when you consider my daughter easily eats 3 TBSP every time she sits down. Every tablespoon of ketchup has the same amount of sugar as Lindt chocolate ball, and honestly, wouldn’t you prefer to eat your sugar as a chocolate ball? 3 tablespoons of ketchup has more sugar than an ENTIRE BAR of Lindt 90% cacao chocolate – all 10 squares! Please, don’t waste sugar by eating it as a condiment.

Most non-organic commercial ketchup is made with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Obviously you are going to avoid that wherever possible.

I have tried to replace the contents of the ketchup container with a brand from the health food store that uses raw honey as its sweetener, and got no complaints from my family. Though naturally they would have complained if they knew.

One of these days I will make this fermented ketchup recipe from Nourishing Traditions, even though it’s still pretty sweet (though sweetened with maple syrup). I have also seen it made with stevia, but never tried it myself. Obviously any homemade version would have to be smuggled back into a familiar Heinz bottle.

Changing other people’s habits is a work in progress, but I can still do something about my own. So here’s what I have done to avoid ketchup:


It’s that simple. Every time I want to use ketchup, I use hot sauce instead. It doesn’t have any sugar or carbohydrates. If you are already starting off your day with The Crazy Hot Drink, then your body is probably craving spicier foods than you are used to. So give it a try. I started on Harissa, a Middle-Eastern condiment made from roasted red peppers ground with spices, sea salt and olive oil (do NOT use condiments made with soy/corn/canola oil). Then I moved on to plain old Tabasco Sauce, as it is readily available in most restaurants.


Frank’s Red Hot Sauce is mild (!) enough that I can really dump it on my eggs and if I add too much, it won’t ruin the meal. It is made of cayenne peppers, which can miraculously increase blood flow to the sickest parts of the body that need it. Frank’s does not make an organic version, which is a bummer. But it has a bright, hot flavor and you will love it! Thanks to my littlest sister for the recommendation.

But don’t worry, you can totally ferment your own hot sauce out of your own organic peppers and high quality sea salt. Check out this project!


Like cayenne powder, hot sauce is made of dried hot red peppers, so they have similar benefits as they both contain capsaicin. First of all, the spicy flavor stimulates your stomach acids and digestive juices, and also increases the mucous layer of the stomach. So this makes your digestion more efficient, but does not stimulate the appetite. In fact, the appetite can be repressed with capsaicin (which is why it is such a big part of the Master Cleanse). Secondly, the body’s response to the shocking jolt of spice is to release “natural pain killers”, or endorphins – which make you feel good like a tiny rush of opiates. And thirdly, capsaicin is thermogenic so it revs up the metabolism, and your body moves fat and glucose into the blood for your muscles to use.  It can also offer protection against some food borne pathogens – so if you are about to eat something dodgy, definitely cover it in hot sauce. Capsaicin also warms you up, clears your sinuses and reverses prostate cancer in mice.

So go ahead, put hot sauce on everything. It’s a great habit.

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Lemons All The Way

We all know about squeezing lemons into water and then downing the resulting drink as an alkalizer. But as I mentioned in my post about Apple Cider Vinegar, organic lemons are expensive and it seems kind of wasteful to just squeeze out a few tablespoons of juice and then throw the rest away.



What?  That’s impossible!

Or at least gross!

Well I am here to tell you that I have figured out a way (thank you internet) to eat a whole lemon and it is soft, yielding, delicious, invigorating and has a host of other benefits.


1. Carefully wash your organic lemon to make sure there are no waxes or residues on the rind.
2. Cut the lemon in half, squeeze each side into a cup and reserve the juice.
3. In a separate cup, fill with appropriate water and drop in the two spent lemon halves. Keep these lemons soaking in the water for at least 8 hours, either on the counter or in the fridge. Overnight is best.
4. Check on your cup of soaking lemons. Pull out one half and take a tentative bite… Not as sour and bitter as you thought, right? Kind of awesome hmmm?


  • Detoxifies the body
  • Decreases tissue acidity / alkalizes the system
  • Enhances immune function
  • Promotes liver health
  • Assists with hormonal balance
  • Nourishes and strengthens cells and cell membranes
  • Improves and normalizes digestive health

More specifically, the oils in the peel provide essential fatty acids that boost immune function, benefit cell integrity, and improve skin quality. Specifically in the peel: D-limonene has anti-cancer properties; pectin helps emulsify oils and chelate toxins from the large intestines; oligomeric proanthocyanidins are antioxidants with powerful antihistamines.

But… don’t do this every day. Lemon peels are really high in oxalates, which are great for detoxing but they can also steal and bond with calcium, magnesium and iron from the body,which form crystals that can turn into painful kidney stones. So if you already have kidney problems, this is probably not for you. Same for anyone with gout or rheumatoid arthritis, most likely.


Right. You might have noticed in the recipe above that I asked you to reserve the lemon juice. Why not put it in a small mason jar with a lid, fill to the top with appropriate water, and then add 1/8 teaspoon of dried cayenne pepper. Now replace the lid, shake it up, and sip it if you can! The Master Cleanse and just about every “juicing” program makes a version of this with added maple syrup or agave (no thanks) to “rev up” the metabolism. But I just don’t need the added sugar and carbohydrates, and nor do you. (However if you want to add warm water and substitute coconut oil for the maple syrup – I’m back on board).  For sure this is a next level drink, and if you can get used to it – what a rush! I love it, seriously.


Google will show you all sorts of links between cancer prevention, tumor reduction and eating whole lemons. But let’s go to Snopes to break down the myths from the research. And then also remember that there is never going to be any serious research or clinical trial that will prove that lemons can replace expensive medicines; that would be cray cray.

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The Crazy Hot Drink: Foundation Drink No. 1

The Crazy Hot Drink


This drink was inspired by my husband’s cousin, who is obsessed with anti-oxidants. Last April 2012, he literally mailed me some brown powder from British Columbia in a Ziploc baggie, and suggested I try a TBSP every day. Fishy, right? But how could I resist?

Here is the simple 5-ingredient recipe:

  • 12 parts raw cacao powder
  • 1 part cayenne
  • 1 part cinnamon
  • 1 part turmeric
  • 1 part dried ginger

Shake it up in a container of your choosing and store in the freezer. Every morning, my preference is to dissolve about 1TBSP of this “magic powder” into a small goblet of very hot water. Sometimes I add a little milk to make it creamy (try freshly made cashew milk, or raw milk).

The first morning I tried it, I thought it was painfully hot and disgusting, and I cursed my husband’s cousin and his little baggie. The next morning I was still curious, so I tried it again. Not so bad. By the third morning, I was CRAVING the magic powder! Now I make it fresh every few weeks, store it in the freezer, and enjoy 1-2 TBSP every morning. This drink makes me more alert, gives me energy, stimulates digestion (I’m talking BMs here!), and is the greatest start to the day.

Way you will not enjoy it: in a smoothie. It is so spicy and strange, why ruin a giant smoothie. This is better enjoyed in a small serving. Way you might enjoy it: cold. But it will be more difficult to dissolve the spices.


Consider this a FOUNDATION DRINK. This will replace so many synthetic supplements and make sure that you are getting the micro nutrients and anti-oxidants that your body and mind need. The lowdown:

RAW CACAO: the raw, unprocessed form of chocolate. Contains 54% heart-healthy fat in cacao butter: 34% oleic acid, 33% stearic acid, 26% palmitic acid, 6% other; 31% carbohydrates: 1% sugar, 16% fiber; 11% protein: arginine, glutamine, leucine; 3% polyphenols: flavonols, proanthrocyanins; 1% minerals: iron, magnesium, calcium, sulfur, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, manganese; and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B9 and E. Raw Cacao can lower blood pressure, improve circulation, promote cardiovascular function, neutralize free radicals, improve digestion and enhance physical and mental well-being by relaxing smooth muscles, dilating blood vessels, increasing circulation of serotonin and other essential neurotransmitters in the brain.

CAYENNE: the dried powder of the hot cayenne pepper. Contains alkaloids, apasaicine, capsacutin, capsaicin, capsanthine, capsico PABA, fatty acids, flavonoids, carotene, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 and C. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, anti-bacterial, anti-cold and flu, anti-fungal, anti-allergen, stimulates saliva and digestion, relieves joint pain, normalizes blood pressure, supports detox and weight loss, and prevents migraines and blood clots. Cayenne can raise the metabolism as much as 25%, and you will notice this magic powder gives you a lot of energy!

GINGER: the dried, powdered root. Contains essential oils of gingerol, zingerone, shogaol, farnesene, vitamins B5 and B6, potassium, manganese, copper and magnesium. Improves intestinal motility, soothes nerves, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, relieves pain, headaches and is the best remedy for motion sickness, nausea and morning sickness.

TURMERIC: the dried yellow roots of the turmeric plant, related to ginger. Circumin is the principal pigment, rich in antioxidant, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory properties and seems to prevent Alzheimer’s in India when prepared in traditional curries combined with pepper. Contains Vitamins B3, B6, C, E, iron, potassium, manganese, zinc.

CINNAMON: the dried bark of a group of trees in the cinnamon family, though “true cinnamon” comes from Sri Lanka. A single TSP of cinnamon contains 28 mg of calcium, 1 mg iron, 1 g fiber, and considerable vitamin C, K and manganese. Cinnamon improves insulin resistance, digestion, is anti-inflammatory and slows the decomposition of food (it was used as an embalming agent in ancient Egypt). Sniffing cinnamon improves brain function, but don’t try it; stick to sprinkling it on your apples to lower the glycemic load.

As you become more accustomed to the magic powder, you can adjust the ratios. It would be more beneficial to increase the ratio of cayenne, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon: raw cacao. Consider the raw cacao the treat that makes it all go down. I am probably down to 8 parts cacao: 1 part each of the other four spices.

I have also tried adding maca powder for its fertility powers (steer clear teenagers, stay in school), but I didn’t like the resulting flavor and couldn’t really add enough maca to make it beneficial.

Sarah Britton at My New Roots has a delicious spicy “Haute Chocolate” recipe which is much more palatable, as it includes coconut sugar, honey, vanilla, maca and sea salt – which makes it more of a superfood indulgence than a daily foundation drink.

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