This therapeutic drink to ward off colds is certainly not like Robitussin. It’s better. Cookbook author Paula Wolfert became familiar with the magic of this traditional Moroccan cold remedy from her friend Barbara Temsamani, who keeps the recipe taped to her refrigerator door as it’s so darn efficient in warding off whatever ails you. Our Rx? Take it 3 times a day for 1 to 2 days at the first sign of a cough, sore throat, or flu.Renee Schettler Rossi

What Other Healing Ingredients Can I Include In A Cold Remedy?

Herbs and spices play critical roles not just in Moroccan and other traditional cuisines but also in these ancient cultures’ medicinal tool kits, usually in the form of soothing herbal infusions, such as this tonic that calms the system and helps ward off colds and flu. We suspect part of the healing happens from the lovely and calmative aromas and flavors of the ingredients, for example, with anise seeds imparting “a strong, warm, licorice flavor,” in the words of Paula Wolfert, and fenugreek being best described as “a little like burnt sugar or maple syrup.” As for the other part of the healing, each herb or spice plays a different role depending on its particular properties. As for other ingredients that you could turn into an infusion and reap the benefits, here’s Wolfert’s Moroccan cheat sheet:

  • Absinth is the “winter tea of choice” for warmth and as an antispasmodic and digestive.
  • Lemon verbena calms the nerves, helps digestion, and gives comfort from the pain of menstruation.
  • Orange flower water mixed with milk and sugar helps children get to sleep.
  • Marjoram is an excellent remedy for a cold or stomachache.
A tumbler filled with amber liquid and a teapot in the foreground.

Therapeutic Drink to Ward Off Colds

4.60 / 5 votes
This therapeutic drink to wards off colds is an healing herbal tonic of ginger, lemon, fenugreek, and anise with magic Moroccan powers. Best cold remedy we know of for coughs or a sore throat. Also helps with the flu.
David Leite
Servings1 servings
Calories18 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time15 minutes


  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • Small piece ginger, crushed, or 1/4-inch piece dried ginger*
  • 1/4 lemon, preferably organic
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 scant teaspoon anise seeds
  • Honey, to taste, (optional)


  • Bring the water to a boil. Add the ginger, lemon, fenugreek, and anise seeds, cover, and boil for 10 minutes.
  • Strain the tea into a mug and stir in honey to taste, if desired. Inhale the aroma and sip the tea while it's hot.


*Dried Ginger Note

Not to be confused with ground ginger, dried ginger is an actual chunk of ginger that has been dehydrated and turns a little gnarly. Simply break off about 1/4 inch for this recipe, or slightly more or less, depending on personal preference.
The Food of Morocco

Adapted From

The Food of Morocco

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Serving: 1 therapeutic mugCalories: 18 kcalCarbohydrates: 4 gProtein: 1 gFat: 1 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gSodium: 20 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 1 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2011 Paula Wolfert. Photo © 2011 Quentin Bacon. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about this recipe, however, I’m glad I made it. There were no colds in the house at the time, and hopefully after drinking this, there won’t be any for a long time to come.

he first sip is very interesting. My husband wasn’t sure about it, but he came to like it better after the first sip. I usually just make a hot drink with fresh ginger, fresh lemon, and some honey when I feel a cold or sore throat coming on, but I will definitely try this one when that time comes. I liked it with a touch of honey, but my husband preferred it straight, which is unusual for him. He usually likes hot drinks a bit on the sweet side. Very nice fragrance as well.

While I can’t say if this therapeutic drink wards off colds, I’m sure it will be comforting on a cold night or to soothe a scratchy throat. At the first sign of a cold, I make a similar hot drink and sip it all day long, and my colds are usually over in a day or two. The lemon and ginger are familiar flavors, but the fenugreek and aniseed add a nice, spicy note to the drink. I add just enough honey to sweeten, but not too much.

A few days ago, I really needed a hot drink cold remedy and remembered this recipe. My sinuses had a lot of pressure and I was sneezing and nose running…you know the deal…miserable. I picked up the ingredients from the store and my husband kindly threw this drink together in a matter of minutes. I was so stuffy and congested that I couldn’t even smell it brewing but my husband claimed it had a very interesting aroma (I don’t think he was a real fan of the smell of fenugreek). When I tasted the drink warm, I immediately felt the relief of the warm, rich liquid soothing my throat. (Next time, I would add less lemon as I think my husband may have added too much as my tummy hurt a little.) Wonder of all wonders, though, the next morning I was feeling much better and have never been rid of a cold so soon—I was seriously like 90% improved from the prior day. I also drank my lemongrass tea (my usual go-to warm soothing drink I consume when I have a cold or sore throat made with fresh lemongrass, hot water, apple cider vinegar, and a touch of honey) but this drink was new to my remedies and I’ve never felt better so fast. Was it really the tea? The scientist in me wants to try this experiment again…but not hoping to get a cold again any time soon!

This therapeutic drink to ward off colds recipe appeared at just the right time, as summer made a long transition into the cold and flu season. I couldn’t wait to try it!

While boiling, the aroma in my kitchen caused Antonio to ask what I was making. When I shared simply that it was an herbal tea, he replied that it smelled terrific.

A quarter lemon could be a range of sizes, and my lemon happened to be extra large. This made for quite a lemony drink, which I enjoyed (and for health purposes, it provided more vitamin C than had I used a smaller lemon).

I should have used a tighter lid while it boiled. When I strained it, I was left with less than half of the liquid I started with, so it was a very small therapeutic drink. I added honey, generously, and savored the taste and aroma. I don’t know if it was the drink or the therapeutic suggestion of the drink, or some combination of the two, but I felt much better when I got up the next morning.

So the next time I’m starting to feel a little under the weather, I’ll make a cup of this right from the start of that feeling, and drink it regularly to ward off a cold, and I will highly recommend this to anyone having similar under-the-weather sorts of feelings. It’s more interesting than the drink we usually make with ginger, lemon, honey and cayenne, and it has a great story to go along with it. And what could be better than a nice, hot therapeutic drink alongside a little Moroccan bedtime story?!

Hey, it’s worth a try! This therapeutic drink to ward off colds is a comforting drink with a mild lemon and licorice flavor. And it’s very simple to make. It tastes a lot like one of those teas that are supposed to coat your throat.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. The trick I have is squeezing honey into the bottom of a mug, filling it with boiling water akin to making tea, then squeezing lemon juice into it and mixing the concoction around.

    This recipe might work as well. How would ginger powder suffice in it?

    1. Mikey, I think ginger powder wouldn’t work as well as fresh ginger. But that’s just a hunch.

  2. 5 stars
    Big thanks for the timely reminder about this helpful recipe! Since the temperature dropped 40 degrees overnight, I’m going to make a batch of this tonight – including honey from my farmers market. The hives are less than 60 miles from home, so I’m layering on the immune-enhancing properties of this therapeutic drink!

    1. Beautiful, Elsa! Well, not about the temperature plummeting, but about everything else!