Herbs For Winter Healing
In this article, you will learn to prevent winter depression, nip a cold in the bud, prevent flu and relieve digestive upset from holiday excess. This will be accomplished with the help of healing herbal teas, tinctures and baths to get you through the winter.
Winter is setting in and people are getting colds and flus, and it won't be long until people start talking about winter angst and depression. However, you don't have to go through this each winter. You can make your body resiliant, strong, and vital by using some simple preventative methods that include basic lifestyle changes such as eating well, exercising, and using nourishing herbs. Today, I will share some of my favorite herbal remedies that go hand-in-hand with these lifestyle changes. They will help prevent winter blues, support your immune system and are a tool on your pathway to vibrant health.
Nourishing your health throughout the winter is easy if you are proactive. Consider the issues that generally come up for you at this time of year, and use nourishing and healing herbs to maintain health throughout the winter.
Sun & Herbs For Winter Depression
- Sun is the best solution for this condition. When the sun comes out in the winter, take advantage of it and go for a walk or at least go outside to sunbathe as much as you can without getting too cold. It is best to go out in the morning if you are dealing with depression. It will help to normalize hormones related to your sense of feeling good. Even if you don't get much sun on the skin, do let your eyes bathe in the sun. Don't look directly into the sun, but do let the sun get on your eyes. Don't wear sun glasses. Vitamin D is not all the sun is necessary for.
- Go on vacation in a sunny place.
- There are of course light boxes and vitamin D. However, neither of these will supply you with the full effect of the suns rays, but they can help many people.
- Herbs can also be beneficial and one of those is Saint John's Wort.
The herb Saint John's Wort facilitates the body receiving sunlight and is well known for alleviating winter-time depression. This is one herb that is not going to work as a tea, so take the tincture. 10-30 drops in a little water is a good general dose depending on body size and how sensitive you are to herbs. I love the taste of this herb and squirt it straight in my mouth. Please be sure the read about this herb's contraindications before using it as it has a few side effects and can interfere with a variety of drugs. You will find an excerpt from my book that covers Saint John's Wort, it's use and many of it's contraindications on the sample pages for my book "Herbal Medicine From The Heart Of The Earth."
This Winter, Support The Immune System With Herbal Teas And Soups
Our immune system protects us from bacteria and viruses. Keeping it in tip-top shape is helpful. We don't want it over-active or under-active. To keep your immune system on an even keel it is best to support it with nourishing foods and herbs. Make sure you get enough protein and use lots of colorful vegetables high in nutrients through-out the winter. Herbs can also be helpful, and some of the herbs that support and nourish the immune system are:
- Plantain (Plantago)
- Rose hips
Add Nouishing And Immune Supportive Herbs To Your Soup
I am big on making soups in the winter. I put in a source of protein and tons of vegetables and add nourishing herbs. I change up the soups to make sure there is dietary variety. The great thing about soups is how easy it is to add herbal immune support as long as the herb flavor plays nicely with the soup flavor. Astragalus is a great immune herb to add as it is used for both over and under active immune systems. It works best used long-term and it tastes good. If from China it often comes in a form that looks like a tongue depressor. This makes it easy to add it to your soup and scoop it out later. However, I usually buy organic and it is usually available in cut and sift form. With this form, you can wrap the bits of herb in cheese cloth that is then tied shut with a string, or put the herb into a device you would make tea with such as a tea ball prior to placing the herb in your soup. Add a couple tongue depressors to your pot of soup, or if the herb is in small pieces add a couple tablespoons in a tea ball, or soaking bag, and add this to the soup early on so Astragalus will soak in the hot liquid for a long time. Any nourishing or healthy herb can be added to your soup in this way, but taste it first to make sure it is a flavor you are okay with having in the dish you are creating.
All soups should have nutrient dense dark greens such as Nettles, and Parsley added to your soup.
Another herb that can be helpful for winter immune support that also sustains many body organs including your liver, lungs, adrenals and brain is Schisandra. However, it does not taste great like Astragalus, so I suggest you use it as a tincture at 20-40 drops as a preventative.
When A Winter Cold Strikes Take An Herbal Bath
Prevention is of course key. Please check out an article I wrote on prevention and treatments for colds here.
Additionally, let me tell you about one of my favorite things to do if I feel I am coming down with a cold. It involves hot herbal tea and a hot herbal bath.
An Herbal Bath To Prevent That Cold
I make a strong tea of ginger, lemon and honey.
Directions: Boil 1-2 cups of water and turn the burner off. I use a chunk that is at minimum half the size of my thumb per cup of water. (You use your thumb as measurement.) I grate the ginger into the hot water, add the juice from 1/4 of a lemon per cup of water and throw the squeezed lemon, peel and all into the hot water and add honey to taste. Make sure you keep the lid on the pot while infusing it for 20 minutes.
At the same time I make another tea to add to the bath. This one has two quarts of water boiling. I turn the burner off and grate in 1-2 thumb sizes of ginger as well as 1/4 cup of Thyme, and 1/4 cup of Bee Balm or Bergamot. If you already have congestion, add peppermint. Let it also steep 20 minutes.
While this is steeping, I run a hot bath. I add a cup of Epsom salts to the bath and when the Bath tea is done, add the bath tea to the main bath.
After filtering the ginger and honey tea, I get into the bath with my tea, where I relax and sip my tea.
Herbal Tidbit: Volatile oils released from the herbs while infusing are part of the healing action. They will escape when the lid of the pot is removed. Leave the lid on the pot the whole time the herbs are steeping and don't take it off until ready to pour it into the tub. It is important to bring the pot of bath tea into the bathroom without taking the lid off, as you want the volatile oils from the pot to be hanging above the tub and not lingering in the kitchen. You can filter the bath tea by pouring it through a large strainer over the bathtub.
Preventing Winter Flu - Influenza With Herbal Solutions
Please see an article I wrote previously on preventing and treating the Flu. It gives extensive information on prevention, herbs used for flu, formulas and cases. You will find most everything you need at that link.
Herbs For Digestive Upset Cuased By Winter Holiday Eating
Most of us know what is and is not good for us to eat, but many of us eat things at holidays that we would never eat otherwise. If you do this, make sure you use bitter herbs prior to the meal and carminative herbs during or after the meal.
Gentian is one of the strongest bitters. Milder bitters are Dandelion root/leaves and Artichoke leaves. Even Chamomile becomes fairly bitter if you steep the flowers for a long period of time or if you simmer it. The longer Chamomile flowers steeps, the more bitter they are. A short steeping time of 20 minutes will not bring out the bitter flavor. Bitters are taken before meals to stimulate digestion. However, if you forget, it still helps to take them while eating.
Carminatives are taken during, or after meals to help alleviate gas and the accompanying pain. Some of the more common carminatives found in your kitchen would be Fennel, Peppermint or Chamomile.
I hope this gives you a few ideas on how to use herbal teas, tinctures and baths to get you through the winter.
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