As the weather warms, I find myself craving ice cubes in my water. I make what you might call “weird” ice cubes. That’s because I’m a holistic thinker, so on any given day you might find ice cubes in my freezer that are green because I’ve laced them with a little matcha powder. They may very well be the normal whitish color, but I’ve laced them with astragalus bark.
It’s fun to incorporate medicinal herbs in your foods, or drinks. You do that already when you shake spices onto your foods.
When my children were young, they didn’t notice what was going on, but they got immune cubes at times (usually in their smoothies). All soups were simmered with a piece of astragalus bark in the broth, along with the expected Bay leaf. I’d take the astragalus bark out before serving them. I made some of their drinks and smoothies using coconut water, or bilberry-infused water. I’d put a dash of matcha powder in their cookie dough! Today, my adult children are tickled about my antics!😂 They tease me that they knew what was going on… which is possible because they were always in the kitchen licking spoons and helping me pour flour out onto the floor, lol.
At this time, with all the germs that are still circulating, it’s important to protect your immune function as best you can. I also think it might be a fun afternoon project with your kids. Use the ice cubes daily or display them in your beverage dispenser. I often do this and put it on my kitchen counter. You can also use these ice cubes in your smoothies too!
Below are some directions and benefits to help you stay well. These are all widely available at health food stores and e-tailers. Take a look at the following immune-protective options and how you can use them in your ice water or smoothies.
Green Tea Ice Cubes
If you’re looking up health benefits of green tea, you can also look up the botanical name: Camellia Sinensis. This has caffeine. There are green tea bags available everywhere, as well as matcha powder. I usually use matcha because it’s stronger. You’re drinking crushed up leaves, not an extraction. Using green tea will make your ice cubes yellow, whereas using matcha powder will make them green.
The antioxidants in green tea and matcha, especially EGCG (epigallocatechin) component, chase down free radicals and help balance your cytokines so they are in healthier ratios. This tea leaf provides antioxidants which go after oxidants. If you’re on an antibiotic, taking green tea, or making my recipe for green tea immune cubes can be useful because EGCG and another catechin (ECG) will poke a hole through the fatty phospholipid cell membrane layer of certain bacteria, making them more vulnerable to the killing effect of antibiotics.
How to do it: Steep 4 green tea bags into 4 cups of hot water for about 5 minutes. Strain the infusion into your ice cube tray and freeze. You won’t even taste the green tea (which is a tad bitter if you over-steep it) in your glass of water. But it will provide powerful immune benefits. If you are using matcha, you can use a bamboo whisker or a metal whisker and stir 2 teaspoonfuls of matcha powder into 4 cups of hot water. Make sure it has all dissolved well or put it through a stainless steel strainer before pouring into your ice cube tray. Freeze it. It will probably stay good for about a month.
This confers powerful immune protection. In between the years of 1998 and 2009, a group of women were studied and those who drank green tea showed a 30 percent reduced risk of getting breast cancer. And in another study of 49,000 men, they found that prostate cancer risk was cut virtually in half!
Astragalus Peppermint Ice Cubes
Gently simmer a 3 or 4 inch piece of astragalus bark in water for 25 to 45 minutes. During the last 5 minutes, toss in some fresh peppermint leaves. If you don’t have that, you can use 1 drop of pure essential oil of peppermint (make sure yours says that it’s consumable). Cool and strain the astragalus bark and peppermint leaves into your ice cube tray, then freeze. This herb is refreshing, and it’s good for prevention. Do not use peppermint if you have an ulcer/perforation.
Vitamin C Ice Cubes
Lemon or oranges are needed for this immune cube. Everyone is concerned about their ability to fight infections. Anemia weakens the immune system and vitamin C will drive up levels of iron naturally. You get C from citrus fruits, cherries and leafy vegetables. You can ramp up immune function by including the juice from half a lemon or orange in some water. Squeeze the juice out and make your ice cubes with the infused water. If you suffer with heartburn, lemon may aggravate you.
Olive Leaf Ice Cubes
In lab tests, as well as humans, olive leaf extract has shown itself to be effective against various viruses, including retroviruses, bacterium, parasites and fungal organisms. You can buy prepared bags of tea and steep them in water, and then make ice cubes. You can also steep 4 tablespoons of bulk herb in 4 cups of water. Add honey if desired. Let it cool, strain, and pour into your ice cube tray.
Licorice Root Ice Cubes
Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has been in the news lately because it is a natural ACE inhibitor, like some medications you may have heard of (for example, benazepril). The ACE receptor is also the attachment site for the painful new bug going around.
Licorice root may influence estrogen because it has so many compounds in it, both agonistic and antagonistic. Isoliquiritigenin is just one of dozens of hormone-impacting compounds naturally found in licorice. It could be helpful with hot flashes too. We get the supplement DGL from this herb, which is useful for peptic ulcers.
Put in an ice cube once in a while, you won’t have much impact if any! Mix about 2 tablespoons in water and simmer for 20 minutes. It’s pretty tasty on its own, and actually has been called “sweet root.” It has a constituent or two in it that is about 40 or 50 times sweeter than sugar. You won’t notice this in an ice cube, it will be tasteless and fairly colorless too.
You can pour into your ice cube tray and freeze.
Even though selenium, zinc, and vitamin D are the most widely talked about nutrients for immune protection, I think we have some other things we can be doing right now, especially as we begin to move out and about from our homes. The immune ice cubes are obviously made ahead, and you can use them in your individual glass, or in a pretty water dispenser for your counter. See my graphic above, add strawberries and kiwi if desired.
It’s a way to give your family an extra layer of immune protection and a fun afternoon project for the children. I like getting the kids involved in healthy habits, so don’t be afraid to show them these things. A lot of kids think food comes from a box or a package these days; they have no understanding that real food and true healing comes from the Earth.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.