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April 7, 2018

As I write this, it’s snowing again in Colorado, and everyone who isn’t in Colorado is surprised by this. But we Coloradans know that weather patterns like this will more than likely continue their cycle until at least May, with the occasional and rogue snow happenings in June. There is a reason why we don’t really plant our gardens until Mother’s Day, y’all! Personally, this type of Spring weather can feel like a “Winter-whiplash” to my body. It was warm and happy yesterday, and now freezing and cold the next. I feel chilled and my joints can ache. I self medicate with warm beverages (and LOTS of Irish wool). This is one of my recent favorite recipes that I keep reaching for and putting in my cup for a couple of reasons. One, because it’s hot chocolate and it’s delicious. Two, because everyone around me is still getting sick and I am NOT interested in that type of shenanigans. Three, because it helps ease my joint anger when the weather suddenly shifts.

My “Immuno-Inflammo-Hot Chocolate Goodness” (because the title“Hot Chocolate” just sounds so boring) recipe is below and I’ve also shared some of the medicinal qualities the herbs I used.

  • Astragalus (Astragalus membramnaceus) has been used traditionally by TCM for hundreds of years and can help support and encourage a healthy immune response in your body by stimulating it into action. In addition to its immunomodulant properties, it also is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial and antiviral. In TCM it has said to be a Chi tonic that could help promote the vital force in the body. (Not for use in pregnancy and breastfeeding)
  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa)  is great for supporting inflammation of most any kind. It has been used for centuries in TCM and Ayurveda for inflammatory conditions. (Fun Fact: the constituents tend to absorb in the system better when a high fat content liquid…such as coconut…is used. Add a dash of black pepper to help with this, too!) In addition to its immunomodulant properties, it also is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial and antiviral. This herb is associated with Mars and the Fire Element, which is a no-brainer in my book when you look at what it does. (High does are not for use in pregnancy and breastfeeding, avoid with blood thinners)
  • Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is another natural therapy that has been used for over 2,000 years (!!!) by TCM (PS this happens to make it one of the oldest known medicinal mushrooms!). Reishi really shines with helping increase vitality as a whole, especially in over-stressed cultures and habits (Let’s all take a moment to look in the mirror, shall we?). This has immunomodulant properties as well, and can offer support to liver and cardiovascular health. Reishi mushroom is said to be treasured  in Asia that has been known to be consumed for the attainment of radiant health, longevity and spiritual attainment.  Mushrooms are typically associated with the Earth Element (also, not surprising)
  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.) is in this blend because firstly, (I think) it’s delicious. Secondly, cinnamon is a stimulant that helps warm up the digestion as well as the body as a whole. It can also offer support with illness, especially when it comes with chilliness and shivering. It is also antibacterial, antiviral, and an antioxidant, which isn’t too shabby, either. Cinnamon is also associated with the Element of Fire as well as Mars, Mercury, and the Sun.(Not for use in pregnancy and breastfeeding, unless under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider)

Recipe: Immuno-Inflammo-Hot Chocolate Goodness

Makes one generous cup, or 2 smaller ones if you’re inclined to share. (Sharing is caring…unless you’re sick…keep that shit to yourself) As always if you are pregnant, nursing, or on medications, check with your healthcare provider to make sure these herbs can be combined/used.


  • 1c organic coconut milk (you can use your milk of choice, however, I chose coconut for its ability to bring the most out of the turmeric)
  • 1/2c filtered water
  • 1/2 tsp organic turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp organic cinnamon chips
  • 2-3 slices of organic astragalus root (I use slices)
  • 1 tsp organic reishi powder
  • 2 tbsp of organic raw cacao (or organic dark cocoa powder). *I typically take my cacao nibs and powder them in my spice grinder, but when I’m feeling lazy I will absolutely reach for that cocoa powder!
  • Honey to taste or sweetener of your choice (Heads up this is NOT a sweet hot chocolate if you use raw cacao or cacao nibs…you’ve been duly warned.)

Equipment Needed:

  • Saucepan with lid
  • Measuring cups/spoons
  • Spice grinder (optional)
  • Mesh strainer (or the saucepan lid is fine if you’re a whiz at straining with it)
  • Blender
  • A mug, unless you’re a beast and you’re going to drink it straight from the blender


Add water and milk of choice to a medium-size saucepan. Add turmeric, astragalus slices, and cinnamon chips. Place lid on saucepan and heat over very low heat for about 10 minutes until milk is hot and steaming and spices are fragrant. Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer (or a saucepan lid if you have mad skills like that) into a blender. Add cocoa or cacao, honey if you wish, and reishi powder. Immediately blend (like a slow/medium speed so you don’t accidentally get splashback and burn yourself) for at least 25 seconds until hot chocolate is fully incorporated and a frothy foam is on top. Pour into mugs and enjoy immediately.

Did you give it a whirl? Let me know what you thought of it!


  • Skenderi, G. (2004). Herbal vade mecum: 800 herbs, spices, essential oils, lipids, etc., constituents, properties, uses, and caution. Rutherford, NJ: Herbacy Press.
  • Wood, M., & Ryan, D. (2016). The earthwise herbal repertory: The definitive practitioners guide. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
  • Wood, M. (2008). The earthwise herbal: A complete guide to Old World medicinal plants. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
  • Wood, M. (2009). The earthwise herbal: A complete guide to New World medicinal plants. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
  • Gardner, Z., & McGuffin, M. (2013). American Herbal Products Associations botanical safety handbook. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
  • Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
  • Harrison, K. (2011). The herbal alchemists handbook: A grimoire of philtres, elixirs, oils, incense, and formulas for ritual use. San Francisco, CA: Weiser Books.
  • Beyerl, P. V. (1996). Master book of herbalism. Phoenix Publishing Co.

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