Favourite winter remedies
The darker days are here again and the nights are getting longer until shortly before Christmas.
Lack of light, isolation and winter weather can all bring our mood down and make us more susceptible to illnesses of all kinds.
Many of us want to do something more to prevent getting ill or want help when there is already an illness in your system.
Nature has herbs and other substances that can help alleviate many illnesses. Here’s a shortlist of herbs and more that I personally use and love.
(Note: if you have any health conditions or take any medications, please ask your doctor or pharmacist before trying the following. There may be interactions that you may not have thought of. Natural does not necessarily mean harmless, so please use common sense and ask.)
Echinacea is a North American native plant that can stimulate the immune system. It can be effective if taken before you get sick, but it shouldn’t be taken for more than two months in order to avoid side- effects.
Chamomile is nearly always safe to use. As a tea, it is delicious. Once you get used to the taste, try mixing it with fennel and peppermint for a delicious herbal tea.
Chamomile is anti-inflammatory and helps with common upper-respiratory infections, such as sinusitis, bronchitis and, of course, the common cold. I use it often for a head steam bath. (If you’d like instructions for this, contact me for more information.) Chamomile and fennel also calm the stomach, help with reflux and even with an upset stomach. It is generally safe for babies and children of all ages.
And then there’s Grandpa’s cough syrup.
My grandfather and father used to take a large onion, halved and hollowed, mush the pulp and then add two to three garlic cloves and fill the cavity with a mix of honey and the onion and garlic mush. The next day, they took a teaspoon of the syrup for colds and coughs.
The taste needs some getting used to, though.
And don’t forget the good old heat pad or (better) hot water bottle for those aching joints from shovelling snow and the odd bellyache and aching chest from coughing.
There is much more out there for different ailments and mostly it’s OK to try, unless you have a pre- existing condition, a very high fever, a fever that lasts more than three days or you start feeling really ill. If in doubt, have it checked by your doctor.