Chai tea/coffee to fight colds and flu?

Incredibly Healthy Cinnamon Chai Coffee Substitute


In the past, I've used a chai tea recipe (see recipe here) basically the same as this, but I've found that sometimes even the little bit of caffeine in black or green tea is uncomfortable for me - I'm not sure why. I have found, however, that substituting organic roasted chicory root tastes very good and has healthy properties. Below I will give just a few short well-known benefits of these ingredients, but would urge you to explore them further for yourself because they are full of health-giving and disease-preventing properties.

1.   Whole cinnamon stick - from the bark (Cinnamomum zeylanicum):

  • Therapeutic activity against oral candidiasis (1) 
  • Potentially beneficial against osteoporosis (2)
  • Improves fasting blood sugar in Type 2 diabetics or prediabetes (3)
  • Marked inhibitory effect against Aspergillus niger (4)
  • Neuroprotective properties (12)

2.  Green cardamon pods (Elettaria cardamomum):

  • Blood pressure lowering (5)
  • Antioxidant (5, 8)
  • Inhibits gastric lesions induced by aspirin and alcohol (6)
  • Anti-cancer and promotes healthy immune system (7)
  • Metal chelating activity (8)

3.  Whole clove buds  (Syzygium aromaticum)

  • Metal chelating activity (8)
  • Strong antioxidant (8)
  • Protection against oral and intestinal candidiasis (9)
  • Delays formation and reduces incidence of papillomas (10)
  • Anti-inflammatory properties may be neuroprotective (12)

4.  Whole black peppercorns (Piper nigrum)

  • Anti-cancer and promotes healthy immune system (7)
  • Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer activities (11)
  • Anti-inflammatory properties may help prevent neurodegenerative diseases (12)
  • Fights oral bacteria (13)

5.  Chicory Root Roasted (Cichorium intybus

  • Analgesic properties similar to ibuprofen (14)
  • Potential antidiabetic agent carrying both insulin sensitizing and insulin-secreting properties (15)
  • Hepatoprotective effect in liver disease (16)


1 cinnamon stick
8 whole green cardamom pods
8 whole cloves
1 teaspoon dried ginger root (not powder) OR 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly slice
4 whole black peppercorns
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 inch of a vanilla bean
2 1/2 cups filtered water
1 Tbsp Roasted Chicory Root
2 Tablespoons unrefined sugar (I really like the turbinado, but usually use stevia)
1 1/2 cups milk (non-GMO soy, coconut or nut milk)

Place cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, peppercorns, vanilla bean or extract in a 1.5 to 2-quart saucepan. 

Add filtered water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, set aside, and let steep for 10 minutes.

Return pot to the heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add chicory root, cover and set aside to let steep for 3 to 5 minutes.

Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve, discarding solids. 

Return liquid to the pot and stir in sugar (or stevia*) and milk.

Heat over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until warmed to your liking. Pour into cups and serve. (Also good over ice.) I left the spices in the glass that I stored the tea in (refrigerated it) until I wanted my next cup. By leaving the spice mixture in the leftovers, it made it taste (I do like it sort of strong) even better each time I reheated it.

Serves 2-large mugs or 4-small mugs.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. It definitely is helpful during flu or cold season as a preventative drink, plus being warm and cozy. I find it helpful all year long for blood sugar balance and weight loss. I find myself turning more and more to this drink as opposed to my daily coffee. 

Thanks for listening - let me know if you try it!

Ann Wooledge signature, aromatherapist, herbalist, nurse

1.  J M Quale, D Landman, M M Zaman, S Burney, S S Sathe. In vitro activity of Cinnamomum zeylanicum against azole resistant and sensitive Candida species and a pilot study of cinnamon for oral candidiasis. Am J Chin Med. 1996;24(2):103-9. PMID: 8874667

2.   Kentaro Tsuji-Naito. Aldehydic components of cinnamon bark extract suppresses RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis through NFATc1 downregulation. Bioorg Med Chem. 2008 Oct 15;16(20):9176-83. Epub 2008 Sep 14. PMID: 18823786

3.  P Subash Babu, S Prabuseenivasan, S Ignacimuthu. Cinnamaldehyde--a potential antidiabetic agent. Phytomedicine. 2007 Jan;14(1):15-22. Epub 2006 Nov 30. PMID: 17140783

4.  V C Pawar, V S Thaker. In vitro efficacy of 75 essential oils against Aspergillus niger. Mycoses. 2006 Jul;49(4):316-23. PMID: 16784447

5.  S K Verma, Vartika Jain, S S Katewa. Blood pressure lowering, fibrinolysis enhancing and antioxidant activities of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum). Indian J Biochem Biophys. 2009 Dec;46(6):503-6. PMID: 20361714

6.   A Jamal, Kalim Javed, M Aslam, M A Jafri. Gastroprotective effect of cardamom, Elettaria cardamomum Maton. fruits in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Jan 16;103(2):149-53. Epub 2005 Nov 17. PMID: 16298093

7.  Amin F Majdalawieh, Ronald I Carr. In vitro investigation of the potential immunomodulatory and anti-cancer activities of black pepper (Piper nigrum) and cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum). J Med Food. 2010 Apr;13(2):371-81. PMID: 20210607

8.  Amit Singh Yadav, Deepak Bhatnagar. Free radical scavenging activity, metal chelation and antioxidant power of some of the Indian spices. Biofactors. 2007;31(3-4):219-27. PMID: 18997285

9.   Yuuki Taguchi, Hiroko Ishibashi, Toshio Takizawa, Shigeharu Inoue, Hideyo Yamaguchi, Shigeru Abe. Protection of oral or intestinal candidiasis in mice by oral or intragastric administration of herbal food, clove (Syzygium aromaticum). Nippon Ishinkin Gakkai Zasshi. 2005;46(1):27-33. PMID: 15711533

10.  Sarmistha Banerjee, Sukta Das. Anticarcinogenic effects of an aqueous infusion of cloves on skin carcinogenesis. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2005 Jul-Sep;6(3):304-8. PMID: 16235990

11.   Yunbao Liu, Vivek R Yadev, Bharat B Aggarwal, Muraleedharan G Nair. Inhibitory effects of black pepper (Piper nigrum) extracts and compounds on human tumor cell proliferation, cyclooxygenase enzymes, lipid peroxidation and nuclear transcription factor-kappa-B. Nat Prod Commun. 2010 Aug;5(8):1253-7. PMID: 20839630

12.   Ramaswamy Kannappan, Subash Chandra Gupta, Ji Hye Kim, Simone Reuter, Bharat Bhushan Aggarwal. Neuroprotection by spice-derived nutraceuticals: you are what you eat! Mol Neurobiol. 2011 Oct ;44(2):142-59. Epub 2011 Mar 1. PMID: 21360003

13.   Nazia Masood Ahmed Chaudhry, Perween Tariq. Bactericidal activity of black pepper, bay leaf, aniseed and coriander against oral isolates. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2006 Jul;19(3):214-8. PMID: 16935829

14.   A Wesołowska, A Nikiforuk, K Michalska, W Kisiel, E Chojnacka-Wójcik. Analgesic and sedative activities of lactucin and some lactucin-like guaianolides in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Sep 19;107(2):254-8. Epub 2006 Mar 17. PMID:16621374

15.  Didier Tousch, Anne-Dominique Lajoix, Eric Hosy, Jacqueline Azay-Milhau, Karine Ferrare, Céline Jahannault, Gérard Cros, Pierre Petit. Chicoric acid, a new compound able to enhance insulin release and glucose uptake. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2008 Dec 5;377(1):131-5. Epub 2008 Oct 1. PMID: 18834859

16.  H Fallah Huseini, S M Alavian, R Heshmat, M R Heydari, K Abolmaali. The efficacy of Liv-52 on liver cirrhotic patients: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled first approach. Phytomedicine. 2005 Sep;12(9):619-24. PMID: 16194047

Republished from original blog on April 30, 2013 by Ann Wooledge, RN, CCAP