My Winter Herbal Kit
Every Winter I go through my herbal medicine kit to make sure I have all of my favorites onboard. In the Autumn and Winter I struggle with less sunlight and colder temperatures. This type of weather usually brings out reclusive qualities in all of us. The change from long days and warm temperatures to dark and less active winter months, is a challenge to the body and mind. During this time body's immune defense is working hard and is more prone to catching one of the passing viruses.
With cold and flu season in full force and the symptoms of depression and anxiety more prevalent, the winter season makes us more susceptible to the common cold and flu. Natural remedies and herbs for winter wellness can help strengthen the immune system, minimize the symptoms and get you back on the path to vitality without having to resort to harsh over the counter or prescription drugs, which can be more costly and difficult to obtain.
A few herbs found to help and have functional properties for keeping us healthy and feeling great during the winter are below.
This information in not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. You should always consult a Dr. before taking any herbal remedy.
• Depression or the Blues
1. Lavender - Lavender benefits mood and has long been used to help battle depression. You can experience the benefits of lavender by using a diffuser to place the scent of lavender throughout you home. It can be rubbed on topically or soaked into the skin using lavender bath salts and soap in your bathing routine. You can even use it in cooking.
2. St. John's Wort -St john's Wort has been in use since the middle ages, with it's mild sedative properties. It's the flower at the top of the plant that holds all the potent properties of this herb. St. Johns wort is available over the counter in capsule form.
1. Chamomile - Chamomile is the standard go-to herb for insomnia. It has been used for centuries as a mild sleep aid. It has many medicinal properties in addition to being a relaxant. Chamomile is also antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti- nausea. When using chamomile, while all parts of the plants are usable, the flowers are the most potent. It can be mixed with lavender and hops for a sleep spray for your bed linens or put inside a pillow to help relax you at bedtime. The best possible way to get the sleep inducing properties of chamomile would be through a tea.
2. Passion Flower - Passiflora incarnata is used for nervous tension, anxiety, agitation, and insomnia relief. It's very popular as a mild sedative for providing safe, restful, deep sleep because it has a calming effect. My favorite way to absorb the benefits of passion flower would be to brew a tea and drink it before bed.
• Dampness in the body/ general warming
1. Black Pepper - Black pepper works as an antispasmodic and anti-arthritic in the body. It can increase blood flow to provide pain relief and decrease stiffness of both muscles and joints.
2. Cinnamon - Cinnamon is a wonderful herb/spice. It's a member of the laurel family and has antiseptic and warming qualities. Cinnamon will help warm the body of people who are always cold and regularly suffer from poor circulation.
3. Ginger/Cardamom - Both Ginger and Cardamon are members of the ginger family. Ginger is anti-inflammatory aiding in the recovery of colds and sinus infections, general pain, stomach upset, and more. It is one of the world's most effective herbs. The rhizome compounds change when it is dried making it twice as pungent and hot. Gingerol is the component responsible for ginger's heat inducing properties. Rue and Rose sciatica massage oil has ginger included to provide warmth to the muscles and nerves which helps with the nerve pain and makes movement easier. Ginger stimulates circulation and promotes sweating which is good for helping with fever, colds and the flu.
Surprisingly, Cardamom has many of the same healing properties as ginger and is used interchangeably frequently. In Ayurvedic medicine Cardamom is used in bronchial and digestive applications. Cardamom is also effective in improving mental alertness and has a warming effect on the body which helps promote sweat and promotes headache relief.
• Immune system support
1. Olive Leaf - Olive is an astringent, antibacterial ,antiviral and antioxidant. I like to use the extract when I start to feel the stirrings of a could or flu. You can also make a tea from the leaves which is very beneficial for quick relief.
2. Echinacea - Echinacea has antiviral, antibacterial and antibiotic properties. It is good for colds, the flu, infections and fever. Echinacea is readily available over the counter.
3. Garlic - Garlic is a member of the Lilly family. It helps strengthen the immune system and is a powerful and potent antiviral. Garlic is most effective in it's raw form. at the first signs of infection pop a clove or two a day and you might find yourself feeling better faster.
• Fighting the common cold or flu
Oregano - Oregano was first used by the Greeks to bring happiness to the lives of humans. In addition, oregano also was used to fight infection,lower blood pressure, help arthritis, and lung respiratory conditions. A tincture of oil might be helpful with cold duration as well.
Elderberry - Elder flower is know to be a fever reducer by stimulating sweating. A common preparation involves equal parts of elderflower, peppermint and yarrow. I personally like to use it in a syrup to help silence coughs and help with congestion. One of my favorite recipes uses elderberries, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, water and honey.
Eucalyptus - Eucalyptus is widely used for it's decongestant effect. Traditionally it brings benefits as a steam and a potent rub when blended with thyme, oregano and rosemary.
Thyme - Thyme originates from the Mediterranean and is one of the oldest plants on record. It's a wonder herb that's highly potent and anti-microbial. Useful in clearing out infections, it is useful in steams and syrups to help clear respiratory problems. It is perfect for arthritis, gout and rheumatism in oils and is used in our salve for cuts, bruises and infections.