Want to know how I stay healthy in winter?
Here are my favorite (and highly effective) herbs & nutrients to keep my immune system strong during the colder months.
In clinical practice, I use a blended root preparation of two different species of echinacea (Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea Angustifolia). Echinacea is one of the primary remedies for helping the body rid itself of microbial infections. It can be effective against both bacterial and viral attacks. I often use it for any infection, anywhere in the body. However, it is especially useful for upper respiratory tract infections; a good example is a common cold! I keep this little beauty close by during winter.
A brilliant herb for the winter months, Andrographis is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral. It can boost the immune system by increasing the body’s resistance to infection by stimulating the production of antibodies and macrophages – white blood cells that scavenge foreign matter. It is also a wonderful bitter herb, meaning it can improve digestion and assimilation of nutrients by improving gall bladder function. When we absorb all the nutrients from our food, we feed our system with everything it needs to allow our overall health & vitality to thrive.
I love Elder flowers and use them for upper respiratory issues such as hay fever, sinusitis, or any other conditions with mucous and inflammation. It can also strengthen cell membranes and possibly inhibit virus penetration. Happy days.
When you’re feeling a little yuchhh, slice some fresh ginger root and let it brew with some rose hip tea (high in vitamin C). I use ginger as a tincture (liquid herb) in my clinic and in cooking. It is stimulating, warming, and highly anti-inflammatory, and I often top your formulas up with it to help create warmth in your body. You can also use it as a gargle for sore throats. It is a wonderful appetite stimulant, and in feverish conditions, it acts to promote perspiration and help rid your body of the pathogen causing your fever.
This beautiful herb is specific for irritating bronchial coughs, bronchitis, and lung conditions. It is what naturopaths and herbalists call an ‘expectorant, ‘ which helps facilitate or accelerate the removal of bronchial secretions (or phlegm) from the lungs. It also has antimicrobial and antitussive actions, which help alleviate coughing.
Strongly antiseptic, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, and (here’s that word again) expectorant, thyme is a wonderful herb to use through the winter months if you suffer from respiratory or digestive infections. It is an excellent cough remedy, and I also use it often for asthma.
Garlic is a natural antibiotic with many healing properties. It is also antiviral and antifungal. Crush some into some olive oil and take on a teaspoon a couple of times a day if you’re a toughie. Otherwise, ask me for some garlic capsules and use them as raw as possible in your cooking. Cooking garlic does reduce some of its therapeutic value; however, it’s still a valuable addition to your diet, so slip it in wherever you can.
An oldie but a goodie. Vit C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning your body will excrete whatever is not needed. It’s really important to have adequate amounts to help ease and reduce the severity of your cold and boost your immune system. It’s found in brightly colored fruits (kiwi, orange, berries) and vegetables (capsicum, chili, broccoli), and very high amounts are found in rose hips. I use rose hips as a tincture in my clinic, and you can also buy it as a tea, which is naturally sweet and delicious. It has a protective role in our body as a potent antioxidant and so will help protect against oxidative stress, which accelerates aging and can contribute to further health issues down the track.
Zinc is one of the most important minerals in having a healthy immune system. A deficiency of this mineral will result in impaired immune function (as well as issues with the gut and hormone production). Zinc is found in red meat, seafood (especially oysters), seeds, oats, and mushrooms, to name a few sources.
My mum’s chicken soup
This one doesn’t need much explaining! The nutrient profile of bone broths cannot be undervalued. Nutrient-dense, full of protein, minerals and high in anti-inflammatory properties, it can help flush out a cold and boost your immunity, plus it’s such a nutrient-dense, easy-to-digest meal, which is exactly what our bodies need when we’re feeling under the weather.
I use so many nutrients and herbs in my clinic when you (or myself) get sick! If you find you’re constantly getting sick, other vital nutrients can be used to support your immune system. Vitamin D is important for long-term immune health, as are probiotics, as most of our immune system lies in our gut, and when we have a healthy gut, we are more likely to have a healthy immune system. Astragalus and Cat’s claw are two herbs which are used for long-term immune modulation, nourishment, and support. Astragalus also helps to strengthen many functions of the immune system, helps protect the liver from damage, and may have anticancer properties.
I hope you are all feeling well this week! I am a call or email away if you start to feel a little under the weather.