Herbs For a Healthy Winter Season
No one needs more to do. But a few simple additions to our daily lives can make a huge difference in staying healthy in the winter. I know I need exercise whether it is indoors or outside, a class, a practice, or a walk. For me shoveling and wood carrying don't count because they aren't relaxing enough and they are goal oriented. I want to play with my body to loosen it up and keep it strong. Also, I love to sleep and winter is one of my favorite times. there seems to be more quiet in the evenings because of the dark to nap or at least go to bed earlier. this is the season of going within, the dark time, to nourish seeds of ideas and also to nourish the body before it wakes up in the spring and gets going. Regardless of the holidays I try to do both activities, spending a lot of time quiet and alone and sweet time just being with people who i so appreciate, so I am more social (less gardening to do) and more internal and solitary in the winter.
Herbs of course are part of my repertoire. I always use an adrenal tonic, and an immune tonic. I find that nourishing my adrenals any time of year is useful in our culture where we work so hard and have so much stimulation but especially in the winter which according to Chinese Medicine is the season of the water and Kidney energy. I love Eleuthero, Licorice, Schizandra, Oats, Damiana. Nettles tea really augments and supports and is so rich in chlorophyll and minerals. There are many others (Rhodiola, Holy Basil, Ashwaganda, Ginseng) but these are my current favorites and they help to lift the mood that sometimes flounders in the winter from the lact of sun. if that is your issue St. Johnswort can help. i also like Lemon Verbena from South America. Everyone has allies in herbs, you just have to find yours and you will
For immunity I use Astragalus, and any or all of the Medicinal mushrooms. We are lucky in the northeast to be able to wild craft them but there are many combinations and singles available already encapsulated or tincutred or some like Chaga can be used just as tea. Chaga is delicious and can be mixed with other herbs. Just boil it 20 minutes, cool and strain and you have a jar of tea for the day or to share. I am very fond of Reishi mushrooms because they also calm the spirit, keep the deep immune potential strong, have an affinity for the heart and support against allergic responses. Maitake is also great as are Turkey Tails. My tonic includes Cat's Claw from South America and some Eleuthero which does support the immune system as well as the adrenals and improving our ability to withstand stress is worth a lot in preventing illness.
It is always good to keep some antimicrobial herbs around just in case one is exposed. here we can use Echinacea, Andrographis, Umckalaobo for upper respiratory viral infections is great, Boneset if you really slip into a flu like symptom.
Make or purchase a tonic and just do it every morning. You will reap the benefits in this season and the next.
My name is Bonnie Bloom and I am a clinical herbalist. Plants give us clothing, shelter, food and medicine. They are an intrinsic part of our earth ecology, diverse and essential. They breathe our carbon dioxide and generously give us oxygen. Where would we be without them.