Cinnamomum cassia, Zingiber officinale, Syzygium aromaticum
Tis' the season for chilly weather, and with it comes the increased use of some of my favorite warming winter herbs in my own home kitchen - cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. While I tend to use these spicy herbs as flavoring agents in my dishes year-round when winter hits I turn to these traditional remedies not only for their robust flavor profile but for their medicinal and energetic benefits as well.
This trifecta of warming spices has stood the test of time and is a tried and true combination in many a dish. You've likely seen the trio in dessert recipes, but this dynamic combo is also commonly used in beverages and savory sauces alike.
So what does the term "warming herb" mean anyway? Though the spices mentioned above may not directly raise one's body temperature (humans tend to stay between 97-99 degrees Fahrenheit), many of them have been associated with both increasing the body's metabolic activity (generating heat) and encouraging better circulation to the notoriously colder regions of the body which can help you feel and stay warmer. From an energetic standpoint, warming herbs have traditionally been used to help stoke the body's internal fire, stimulating the system and bringing a sense of internal warmth and increased energy. Warming herbs have been used by herbal practitioners for thousands of years and remain a staple in the modern-day apothecary.
My favorite way to incorporate warming herbs into my life? Tasty seasonal beverages! I often add a dash of cinnamon to my french press in the morning, make a warming chai with all three (cinnamon, ginger, and cloves) in the afternoon, or sip on a mug of hot ginger tea whenever I'm nursing a cold. I commonly add all three to my winter cordials, syrups, and elixirs, and make sure to have a hefty stash on hand for all my winter baking needs.
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Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism: the Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Healing Arts Press, 2003.
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