Herbs for Winter Wellness
The winter months are upon us, and with change in weather comes the cold and flu season. Herbs are a great way to build up and support the immune system, as well as warm you up with a delicious cuppa! Here’s a list of great herbs to help you through the winter months.
Famous for its ability to stop a cold or flu in its tracks, Echinacea is a great remedy against bacteria, viruses and fungi. It stimulates the action of the body’s immune system to attack invading organisms. Echinacea is also a powerful anti-inflammatory, and can assist in arthritis - which can be more bothersome in cold weather. It is also effective for treating wounds, and can stimulate the growth of new tissue.
Ginger is a great herbal ally to have on hand during the cold weather, as it stimulates circulation, aids digestion and increases perspiration. This action of making you sweat can help flush out a fever, and toxins as well. Ginger is also well known to assist nausea and travel sickness (in case you’re taking a holiday this winter), and can help with gastrointestinal complaints such as gas and stomach cramps (great if you’ve eaten too much). If you have cold hands and feet, hot ginger tea can do wonders (try it combined with Ginkgo).
This excellent lung tonic is probably less well known, but deserves a place in your herb cupboard. Elecampane is a premier herb for clearing congested lungs, great for bronchitis, emphysema and any chesty cough. Its powerful expectorant action helps clear out mucous, and its high mucilage content also soothes irritated tissues. It is also anti-bacterial and stimulates digestion due to its bitter principal.
A traditional Amazonian medicine with a long history of use, Cat’s Claw is another great immune stimulant. It is rich in proanthocyandin, a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger. This, combined with its ability to increase white blood cells, has made it a top choice in the natural treatment of cancer. Cat’s claw cleanses the entire intestinal tract, assisting with many gastro intestinal disorders. It is also an anti-inflammatory used for arthritis as well as muscle strains and injuries. Cat’s claw is a great herb to remember when your immune system is low, and can be used as a general daily tonic. (Use with caution if on blood thinning medication.)
The leaves of this beautiful Australian rainforest tree make a delicious uplifting yet relaxing herbal tea that is excellent for colds and flus. It has been reported in the Australian Journal of Medicinal Herbalism, 1991, to be anti-fungal, anti-viral, a calmative and a sedative. The leaves are full of wonderfully fragrant citral oil, smelling of a mixture of lemon and lime. Reach for a cup of this great Aussie native next time your feeling down!
Also known as Holy Basil, this traditional Ayurvedic herb has been revered in India for thousands of years. Tulsi is an excellent choice for assisting coughs, colds and fevers, as well as improving digestion, relaxing the soul and sharpening the mind. It is considered an adaptogen – a herb which improves resistance to stress – and has been used as a preventative against epidemics such as cholera, influenza as well as malaria. With all this going for it, Tulsi is definitely a must to have on hand during the winter months!
This popular flavoring spice is also an amazing herbal helper in the cold months. Cinnamaldehyde, the main active component of cinnamon, can help fight bacterial and fungal infections. Cinnamon is also loaded with antioxidants, is an anti-inflammatory, and improves circulation. Cinnamon ginger tea with lemon and honey is a classic warm drink for colds and flus. It will get your blood flowing and can help flush out a fever.
This is one of the top herbs for respiratory problems – in particular dry coughs, hoarseness, bronchitis, phlegm, whooping cough, etc. It opens the lungs, lubritates the mucous membranes, relaxes the larynx and opens the sinuses. Mullein also stimulates fluid production and is thus useful for expelling phlegm.
Propolis is not a herb but a product of honeybees, made from tree sap which they collect and use to seal their hives. For humans, it is used as a natural immune booster, which can help fight infections, as well as heal wounds. Propolis has been found to be effective against bacteria, fungi and viruses (including herpes simplex). It is commonly used in oral health products and is used as a mouth wash to help fight infection and stimulate healing. It is an excellent gargle for sore throats.
This herb comes to us from Traditional Chinese Medicine, where it has has long been used as an immune system tonic. It stimulates the body’s immune response against viruses and increases the activity of white blood cells. It is valuable in the prevention of recurring colds, debilitating viral infections and chronic illnesses. Other herbs to remember: Elderflower – Great for fevers and sinus congestion
Great to stimulate circulation and mental function Siberian Ginseng – An excellent tonic and adaptogen to help your body function at its best Yarrow – Great for fevers. Peppermint – Great for digestion, fevers and clearing the head. Lemongrass – Great for colds, flus, fevers, and digestion.
Great for fevers and digestive upset – especially for children.
Great Happy Herb products for Winter:
Cold and Flu tea – an excellent blend of herbs to blast out those bugs
Winter Warmer tea – An excellent warming and immune boosting tea blend
ImmuniTea – An liquid herbal extract full of potent immune boosting herbs
Immune Booster spagyric – A liquid herbal spagyric full of immune boosting herbs
David Hoffman (2003), Medical Herbalism
Isabell Shippard (2007), How can I use Herbs in my Daily Life?
Rain-Tree Tropical Plant Database: www.rain-tree.com