Last weekend I spoke on a panel about Winter Wellness with other herbalists at the Yoga & Herbs Convergence in Greenfield, MA. Molly Kitchen, yoga teacher and wellness consultant organized the event and there will be more in the future, so I encourage you to join her mailing list. During the convergence, I was inspired by how many knowledgable and wise practitioners we have here in Western Massachusetts. Uniting two topics very dear to my heart, yoga and herbalism was truly a dream come true! Thank you, Molly and all those who participated in the wonderful event.
The winter months are a true test for our immune systems because of all the elements of cold, damp, dry, and windy while we are absorbing less Vitamin D from the sun. Here are some tips to maintain a healthy immune system all winter long. Grab a hot cup of tea and get cozy! It may be along winter ahead, but you can make it a healthy one.
- Turmeric, Ginger & Lemon Tea with Honey
- Fire Cider– add to dressings or take daily as a tonic to ward off cold/flus.
- Raw Garlic 3 x week at first sign of cold/flu
- Drink lots of water, no cold beverages
- Add shiitake & maitake mushrooms to soups and stir fries to strengthen the immune system.
- Baths with Epson Salts & Lavender Essential Oil
- Exercise daily to keep your circulation moving and break a sweat to detox.
- Vitamin D– Bluebonnet brand is what I use.
- Zinc tablets at the first sign of a cold
- Immune Boost Tincture: Astragulus, Echinacea, Reishi, Turmeric, Lemon Balm (anti-viral, anti-microbial, immunomodulant, anti-inflammatory, warming, lymphatic) I have this for sale: $13/ 1 ounce bottle.
- Cook with carminative spices and aromatic herbs such as cinnamon, cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, cayenne, thyme, rosemary, sage (keep the cover on soups with aromatic herbs to lock in the essential oils which have anti-microbial properties)
- Wear warm clothes especially around the neck and abdomen to keep your core warm!
- De-stress, rest, relax, recharge, & calm your nervous system to turn off the fight or flight responses. Resting for only 10-20 minutes gives your immune system a chance to reboot.
- Move Lymph with exercise, massage, baths, saunas, & herbs like red clover, cleavers, echinacea, & spilanthes.
- Avoid sugar, processed carbs, and dairy. Dairy increases mucous and causes inflammation in the body, which can make it hard for the immune system to do its job when it is bogged down by excess cold/damp fluids. If you are going to eat ice cream, drink a warm cup of herbal chai tea afterward, or add cinnamon to your bowl of yogurt and granola. Carminatives are crucial for our digestion because they support assimilation of nutrients and break up excess phlegm.
- The Lungs/Respiratory system is often affected during the winter months because the air is cold/dry. People with asthma are more prone to activate it because the lungs are already working hard to stay warm & moist. Lungs like to be warm (not hot or cold), and moist (not wet or dry).
- Herbal Tinctures for the lungs: mullein, propolis (yes, from bees!), elecampane, schizandra
- Elderberry syrup & wild cherry lozenges/tincture for sore throats
- For chapped dry skin, I have a healing balm for sale made with Calendula, Plantain, Goldenrod, & Sweet Fern Oil to soothe irritations, clear bacteria, heal cracks, and bring relief to chapped lips: $7 / 2 oz tin
- DRINK MORE WATER if you are thirsty, have dry skin, or your lips are chapped- this is a sign you are dehydrated!
To Your Health,
Owner and Operator of Sweet Birch Herbals