Since the beginning of mankind we have used plants as medicine. Nowadays, pharmaceutical companies produce pills for every kind of ailment, but many cause (sometimes terrifying!) side effects. While there is definitely a need and a place for modern medicine, medication is undoubtedly overprescribed and overused.
Despite what the big Pharma companies will have you believe, it is not inevitable to become sick every winter. And if you do get sick, you do not need to glug down bottles of neon-colored sugary “remedies” in order to heal. Just take a look at the list of ingredients. Umm, no thank you.
Why not give your body a natural boost by including more herbs that support your body and immune system naturally, to help you stay healthy winter-long? I chose three herbs below that are great to support your body at this time of year, but this is by no means a complete list of amazing winter herbs. I chose these three because they are powerful immune-boosting herbs that can be easily included in your daily foods. Easy is good.
Garlic is a powerhouse of a herb! Chinese texts from as far back as 2000BC speak of the healing potency of Garlic (10 essential herbs, p.153). Allicin and the sulphur compounds in garlic are primarily responsible for the amazing benefits of garlic, including antibiotic, fungicide, healing high blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, helping to prevent cancer, and for stimulating the immune system.
There are mixed opinions on whether the health benefits of Garlic are reduced when it is heated. Traditional advice says that cooking with garlic will diminish some of it’s medicinal qualities, therefore you should always eat fresh, raw garlic. More recently, studies have indicated that although the healing effects of garlic will reduce somewhat with heating, it is minimal. However you choose to consume it, Garlic is an amazingly powerful herb! Dried Garlic or Garlic oil won’t provide quite the same healing qualities as fresh and raw, but they are both very useful if you are unable to use raw.
For a sweet medicinal “treat”, finely chop a clove of garlic and mix it with a spoonful of honey. Chew the honey and garlic before swallowing. Do this daily through the winter months to stimulate the immune system and for a natural antibiotic and fungicide.
More than just delicious tasting, Cinnamon is also a wonderful medicinal plant! It is a digestive aid, an anti-yeast agent (treating Candida and other yeast infections), and it helps with respiratory issues including colds, sinus congestion, and bronchitis. It also helps to prevent anemia due to its benefit of improving circulation.
Add powdered cinnamon to your food by sprinkling it over the top before eating or during cooking. It works especially well mixed into hot soups and drinks. You can also add some cinnamon directly into your hot tea. Just stir it into the hot water and infuse your favorite tea as normal.
Ginger is great for nausea, congestion, circulation, and even muscle strain (which makes it great to ease any aches caused by flu). In the cold winter months, the circulatory benefits of ginger will warm your bones and give your skin a healthy glow! There are studies in Japan researching the effect of Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties in the treatment of arthritis.
Try making some fresh Ginger tea! Just chop a handful of ginger root (leave the skin on) and boil it in 2-4 cups of water for 10 minutes. For added benefits, throw a sprig of Thyme in there with the Ginger too. (I may have added this one just to say “sprig of thyme”. Kidding.) Thyme is considered the best herb for stimulating the Thymus, a major gland in the immune system. It is great for convulsive coughs, sore throats, and stiffness related to chills.
Can children use these remedies?
It is generally safe for children to consume each of the herbs above (assuming there are no food allergies to be considered. My youngest has a garlic allergy so no honey-garlic medicine for her!). Always use your best judgement. And remember that “more is not always best.” Just because Ginger tea is great, it doesn’t mean 10 cups a day is even better.
Let me know in the comments below:
Do you use these herbs on a regular basis to boost your immune system and maintain your health through the winter? Do you have any favorite herbal remedies to boost your winter health?