The idea of a tonic to help you feel better isn’t new but what seems to be entering our collective conscience is a tighter connection between the products we use on, and in, our bodies and their effects on our outlook and appearance. As the year winds down many of us look to improve something or simplify a part of our lives. For us, that means looking at ways to slow down and nourish our skin and emotions from the inside out. A popular way to do that is to buy, or make, a “wellness tonic.”
Wellness tonics (sometimes also called health tonics, herbal tonics or immunity tonics) typically contain vitamins and minerals thought to protect cells and kick up the immune system. They’re also sometimes made with adaptogenic herbs — ingredients that can help optimize the body’s energy production and help the body adapt to stress. Herbalists in China, Egypt, Greece, and India have built their botanical knowledge over centuries, developing TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and the Ayurvedic principles still used today, and are often offered in the form of a customized tonic. They’re effective enough that you should check with your doctor about medication interactions before diving into a habitual tonic.
Popularity aside, focusing on what building blocks you’re offering your body to create the basis of great skin is always something we can get behind. So, yes, wellness tonics might just do something great for your skin, and better yet, your mind and body.
According to a Whole Foods blog post in 2017, popular and accessible wellness tonic ingredients might include:
Fresh or dried turmeric. Historically used in Ayurvedic medicine for a variety of conditions. Western studies show turmeric may help support heart, joint, and skin health. Probiotics. Studies show this “friendly” or “good” bacteria may support the immune system and digestive system. Apple cider vinegar. May support digestive health.
Fresh or dried ginger. Historically used in Asian medicine to settle the stomach. Western studies agree that ginger can help support digestive health.
Reishi mushrooms. Known as the “mushroom of immortality” in Chinese medicine, the fungus may help support aging cells.
Baobab. A fruit native to Africa, the dried powder is often added to drinks and is packed with vitamin C.
Elderberry. Researchers funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health are currently studying Elderberry’s antioxidant effects.
Adaptogenic herbs like tulsi and ashwagandha. May help the body bounce back from stress. All of that aside, we’re proponents of things that naturally make you feel better, which of course affects your skin.
An article about tonics in The New York Times from a few years ago included this from Chef Jessica Koslow and it is indeed warming and lovely -- especially when it’s cold outside. “Ask your body what it needs and know when it’s satisfied,” says Jessica Koslow, the chef-owner of the wildly popular Sqirl restaurant in Los Angeles. “That’s the mantra.”
When she broke her ankle a few years ago, Koslow says she went looking for “anything to help this lady who stands in the kitchen all day.”
She found turmeric, a native rhizome of India known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and incorporated it into a healing elixir.
“I enjoyed it so much that I played around with a recipe for it that I could serve daily at the restaurant.” For the new year, she created a new tonic — a take on the traditional hot toddy, and what she calls a “healthy, digestive sleep aid.” Others might just call it delicious.
Chef Koslow’s Healthy Digestive Sleep-Aid Elixir aka The Turmeric Toddy Tonic
2 cups apple juice
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground turmeric ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon cardamom ghee, optional (recipe below)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place the cloves on a baking sheet, and bake for 5-7 minutes to release essential oils. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, warm the apple juice over medium-high heat.
- Add the cloves and ground spices to the juice and let come to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to low and let the mixture steep for 5 minutes.
- Strain out the spices before serving.
- Stir in the cardamom ghee, if using, and enjoy.
¼ cup ghee
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the ghee.
- Once the ghee liquefies, add the cardamom. Turn heat to low and let steep for 3-5 minutes.