Re: deviations from the MC
I can add to your research that I usually add a variety of herbal teas (naturally caffeine free that is), for their specific medicinal benefits and also to provide enough variety of flavor to keep it interesting. Fennel seed is especially good for me(and surpisingly sweet all by itself). When I'm especially cold, peeled fresh ginger slices boiled up for awhile into a tea does the trick. Lemon balm (Melissa) is calming, cooling, and tasty and at the moment, it's bursting in our garden. I'd recommend Michael Tierra's book "Planetary Herbal" as a good place to read up on herbs of several traditions (thus the "Planetary" of the title) including American, Ayurvedic, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). You can determine if you're too yang or too yin or both or deficient in either or both, if you study up on TCM and take herb teas to balance out those conditions. Cayenne is rather yang, and as I'm already yang to start with, that is the only difficulty I have on MC...not getting rebalanced that way. The fennel balances out yang though. (Ginger is hot like cayenne, so I use that only when I'm feeling especially cold or if I've been exposed to wet/cold so I don't get sick.) This go around, I also added 2 t apple cider vinegar to a cup of water. I don't know if that helped anything, but it didn't seem to hurt. And I'm continuing with it to see.
I'm interested to find out how your experiment goes!