All seasons fascinate me in their own unique way.
Spring brings hope, new colors and smells.
Summer, my favorite, is filled with positivity. People are outgoing, there is more contact with nature, vitamin D is being produced, and the sunlight is out to warm up our hearts.
During the fall there is less sunlight; however, the colorful foliage seduces us and warns us for the next season - winter.
I tend to tell my friends that the best part of the winter for me is drinking a nice glass of lavender infused wine, sitting inside by the fire and watching the snow fall outside my window.
While some folks may be celebrating the beautiful freezing white flurries falling upon us, others have already been fighting health symptoms that are consistent with this type of weather. Whether we’re dealing with illnesses such as cold or flu, or mood disorders such as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), winter can bring many health challenges. Fortunately, as an Herbalist, I’ve learned of many herbs and simple, affordable recipes that can help prevent and relieve these symptoms.
Build Your Immune System
If you or a loved one is looking to build your immune system, one of my go-to recipes during winter is Garlic Infused Honey. Garlic (Allium Sativum) is a powerful antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral and hypotensive. A compound called Allicin, which is responsible for the unique odor garlic has when it is crushed, also helps in improving circulation and strengthening the immune system. And guess what happens when our immune system is strong?
Less common colds! If you’d like to give it a try, here’s the recipe I use:
Garlic Infused with Honey
- 2 garlic heads
- 1 jar of raw honey (or as needed)
- 3 pieces of ginger (optional)
Peel off the garlic and place all cloves in a mason jar with 3 small pieces of ginger. The beauty here is that you may choose to add the amount of ginger or decrease it according to your taste.
Once garlic and ginger have been placed in a mason jar; fill up the jar with raw honey. (The picture does not have a full jar of honey.)
Close the jar and label it with date and ingredients. Place it in a cabinet or anywhere you will remember it, and let it sit for 4 weeks.
How much garlic should I take?
When the infusion is ready, eat one clove of garlic daily. Having a couple of jars prepared for the winter is ideal for the whole family!
If you feel those annoying cold symptoms starting to attack you, increase the dose. Have a clove in the morning and another one in the evening before bedtime. I promise your breath will not kill a dragon! The garlic will actually taste sweet and some of its properties, which cause bad breath, will be infused in the honey.
What do I do with the honey?
I like to add 1 teaspoon of the garlic infused honey anytime I am having a cup of tea during the winter. It is a great natural anti-inflammatory added to your tea. The infused honey will also have the benefits of ginger, which is a fantastic aid to the cardiovascular system.
Even though garlic infused honey can be a life-saver during cold months, sleep and rest are also important and needed. Deep sleep supports liver detoxification, improves serotonin and lowers cortisol (stress hormone).
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
In my work as an Herbalist, I love how herbs can help us with so many common ailments or issues. If you or a loved one struggle with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), herbs might be worth a try.
SAD can absorb all your energy during these cold months if the right steps are not taken to manage it. SAD can initiate during the fall for some people and continue into the winter months. Luckily, and unlike western medicine, Herbal Medicine takes preventive measures, so symptoms are not as acute or present when winter is already here.
If you have any of these frequent symptoms during the winter, it is okay to acknowledge them and look for help. Basically, your body is asking for what it needs in order to function properly.
- Excessive craving for starchy foods
- Fatigue, disabling fatigue for some
- Low energy
- Anxiety and agitation that is also visible to others
- Sudden muscle and joint pain
There have been many debates on what causes SAD; however, studies have shown symptoms are highly manageable with the right approach.
Uplifting Herbs to Manage SAD
Here are some uplifting herbs to help you cope with the winter blues. As with all herbs, please consult with your doctors if you have allergies or are taking any other medications.
Lemon Balm is also known as Melissa officinalis.
This is my go-to herb any time during the year, but especially during the cold months of our winters in New England. Lemon balm is soothing and uplifting to the heart and soul. It eases anxiety and makes you smile again!
Clinical studies have shown that Lemon balm eases the heart by reducing palpitation. This beautiful herb is also an amazing antiviral; it improves focus and in combination with other herbs can regulate TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone). It is a very effective anti-depressant!
Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogen, which assists our body better cope with physical, mental and environmental stress.
Rhodiola optimizes dopamine and serotonin levels, improves mood, alleviates depression, and improves focus. It is a great herb to have in the morning for a little “kick” and to keep you going during freezing days when you just don’t want to get out from under your warm blankets.
Skullcap is a relaxant, good for those who are always agitated due to anxiety. It can be a sedative for some people, so if you are in sleep debt, Skullcap is a great option, otherwise smaller quantities with other herbs is preferable during the winter.
Skullcap is suggested for those who are unable to stop thinking, have racing thoughts during the day, struggle to focus at any time, and are unable to sleep due to overthinking.
Tulsi is also an adaptogen with strong affinities to the nervous and endocrine systems. In western herbalism, Tulsi helps the body clear up anxiety and depression, especially in cases where high tension is present.
St John’s Wort
One of the most famous herbs for depression, St. John’s Wort is a relaxing herb with the capacity to soothe frazzled nerves during stressful moments. Although this herb is very effective, it is very important to work with an experienced herbalist when working with St. John’s Wort. The herb has strong hepatic affinities, and it clears out any waste that does not belong in the liver, including medication you may be taking.
Most of us nowadays could benefit from some of these herbs, if not all of them. Whether it is to help lift our spirits during the freezing winter months, sleep better, stop racing thoughts or simply to help feel better during stressful times, these herbs can be our best allies.
As you can see, herbs can be used in so many ways to help us. While I hope I’ve given you some ideas for how you can start using herbs to help with common health concerns in winter, herbs can be used in so many additional ways. You can schedule a full Holistic Herbal Consultation to create a personal plan to address all your particular needs.
In the meantime, with spring fever on the horizon, if you’re looking to boost your confidence and add some extra spice to your bedroom, I’d love for you to sign up for your free copy of my guide below.
***The information presented is provided for informational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute for medical advice or diagnosis provided by your physician or any other medical professional. Please contact me with any questions or comments! ***
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AUTHOR: Bianca Weissman is an OSYL Holistic Herbalist who believes that in most cases the balance between eastern and western medicine is a necessity in order to help individuals heal and feel better for the long haul. Let Bianca work with you and help you better understand the multitude of holistic ways you can live a healthier life without the side effects of pharmaceuticals.
Find out more about Bianca and her services HERE.