Winter is a season where all the bugs come out in full force! Not only have we been dealing with a global pandemic, but in the southern hemisphere we are entering into winter. This means all the typical flu’s and colds will be returning. I have a range of herbs I use to support the immune system as a medical herbalist. Herbs for winter wellness may assist in strengthening immunity. This post is written by my experience and knowledge as a qualified and registered NZ medical herbalist.
Bring on winter! If you’ve had a long, hot summer that was truly endless then I’m sure you’ll be looking forward to a break from the heat. For us in central New Zealand in the north island, it felt like summer wouldn’t give up.
The garden was suffering as we hadn’t had rain for months. Finally, the heat has broken! We have rain! I can breathe a sigh of relief, and we’ve even had a few snap frosts too.
All of this winter talk brings me to my topic of today, herbs for winter wellness.
Immunity During Winter
Throughout winter, the typical flu and coughs/colds run rampant. Usually it’s the children who bring home the bugs from daycare or school. Then the parents get sick too.
It’s difficult to manage time off work, especially for those nasty lingering bugs. It’s also no fun being sick, or having to see little ones not feeling their best either.
Feeling the cold weather and with more bugs floating around is a recipe for getting sick.
Wouldn’t it be better to have a way to stop these bugs from knocking us back in the first place? Or just lessening the severity if we do happen to fall ill.
Allow me to share my strategy for strengthening the immune system during the winter months.
Holistic Health Care for Winter
As a qualified and registered naturopath, I have a holistic approach to health care.
My focus is always on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health of each individual. Everyone is so unique and has a different health history. However, in a general sense, I believe this strategy for winter wellness can apply to nearly everyone.
During winter the temperatures drop considerably. There is a sense of wanting to slow down, withdraw and rest. Seasonal food for winter needs to reflect weather. I feel drawn to attuning my body with seasonal foods according to the external weather seasons.
Warming soups and stews, broth, cups of herbal tea and more.
When you buy in season food, it is often cheaper and possibly more nutritious. The crops won’t be strained to grow in environments that aren’t best suited for them. As a result, healthier crops means more nutrients!
We all know how important a balanced diet is for our health and our immune system greatly benefits from good food.
Here are some ideas for seasonal foods for winter wellness:
- Warming spices in soups like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cayenne
- Bone broth as a soup base for added gut health benefits
- Leafy greens like kale and spinach
- Brassica vegetables; cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts
- Root vegetables; potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, parsnips, swedes
Winter is a time of slowing down and hibernation. It’s ok to take things on a slower pace than you did in summer time. I know for myself, in winter I tend to sleep a little more. This is perfectly normal and natural.
Listen to your body and go with the flow. When you bring yourself into balance, your immune system will naturally be robust against illness.
It’s also a good time for self-reflection. The slower pace of life means we have time for introspection. You could ask yourself the following questions:
- What needs putting to rest in my life?
- Am I forcing myself to work too hard when I just need to be still?
- What changes could I make to align with my higher self?
Herbs for Winter Wellness
Herbal support is a wonderful way to boost the immune system. There are many options for the whole family. However, I find the easiest way to support the immune system during winter is with herbal tincture.
Herbal tincture is an ethanol based extract from raw plant matter. In New Zealand, usually only qualified herbalists have access to high quality prescription herbs. If you are interested in a herbal tonic, contact me today to get in touch. I am happy to arrange a prescription for you.
If you are simply interested in herbal ideas for your own herbal medicine first aid kit then read on!
- Echinacea – look for high quality Echinacea purpurea or angustifolia, preferably from the root. Remember to check the dose! Sometimes the dried herb doesn’t contain a lot of active constituents at all, which won’t help boost immunity. A good quality echinacea tincture will help regulate the immune system and keep the bugs at bay.
- Thyme – thyme tincture is a brilliant anti-bacterial and anti-viral herb to have on hand. You can easily use fresh thyme in cooking for its health benefits too.
- Withania/Ashwagandha – supports immune deficiency, especially in autoimmune disease which can make people more susceptible to infections
- Manuka – A New Zealand native herb. The leaves have a range of properties: anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and more. It also helps to reduce fever too.
There are so many different and wonderful herbs out there to support the immune system. Some herbs will be indicated for coughs, others for sore throats, fever or phlegm.
As a herbalist I access to have a range of herbs to suit your unique situation. If you’re interested in learning more about a herbal consultation, visit my bookings page to book your free 15 minute discovery call.
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to use my contact page or you can find me on Facebook to message me there too.
All the best for the upcoming winter months if you are in the southern hemisphere.
Love and light,