Oh the weather outside is frightful, but these herbs are so delightful! Winter is perhaps one of the most important times of the year to usher in more of your herbal sidekicks because the dry, cold air of this blustery month makes our respiratory system more susceptible to pathogens. What’s more, influenza prefers the cool, dry air and becomes more resilient in the winter. You’ll want to be more resilient too!
Let’s chat about some ways to fortify our immune systems and support our bodies in this season of cold.
This is a time to burrow in, cozy up, and sip on herbal tea all day long. Rest is not an herb, but I would be remiss not to mention this very important medicine! As the Earth draws her energy inward, the creatures burrow down, and the leaves decay into the Earth, we should take notice. These patterns are indications of what we should also be doing in our own lives. The Holiday Bustle may be so temping, but the most important thing we can do help our mind body and spirit this season is to take cues from Mother Nature and rest. Check out my post here to see what happened to me when I didn’t heed my own advice.
How could I not put this herb first on my list? Elder is sometimes called “The Medicine Chest of the Country People” and for good reason. This tree that grows all over the world, has been studied quite a bit for its anti-viral properties. What’s more, the deep rich purple color is a signature of its high anthocyanin content which makes it a potent antioxidant.
The Scottish Ogham indicates Elder as the representational tree from November 25th through December 22nd which is perfectly fitting! Its affinity for opening our body’s channels of elimination and supporting the respiratory tract make it a perfect ally for this time of year.
Rosemary is not just for remembrance, even though we can probably use a boost of mental clarity any time of year. One of the reasons I love Rosemary so much in the winter is that it helps to improve circulation, especially to the periphery. Bye Bye freezing hands and feet (a big problem for me in the winter)! What’s more, it’s green and silver leaves have such a fantastic aroma completely reminiscent of pine and all things wintery. Because of its carminative actions, it also helps us to better digest our food, a bonus when cold weather slows our digestion just in time for the rich food of the holidays!
There is unclear evidence, yet some sources say not to take rosemary while pregnant. Rosemary should not be taken at the same time as iron supplements.
Check out the Rosemary Tisane recipe in this post for an easy way to use Rosemary.
The scent of cinnamon just brings about Holiday cheer, doesn’t it!? From apple pies to mulled cider, cinnamon is a staple cooking spice for winter, but it is also a wonderful herb for many people during the cold months. That’s because Cinnamon is a warming tonic.
A cup of cinnamon tea, made by steeping a cinnamon stick in a cup of water for ten minutes, can warm the body, help with digestion, soothe sore joints, and lift the mood.
Cinnamon works so well in both savory and sweet dishes. Check out this delectable Corn and Cinnamon Chowder!
Rose hips are often overlooked after the showy splendor of the rose flower, but make no mistake, the fruit of the rose packs a powerful superfood punch! Rose hips are very high in Vitamin C and are rich in antioxidants. What’s more, the flavonoids in rose hips help to synergize the effect of Vitamin C in our bodies. These nutrients can help boost immunity, lower blood pressure, and improve cardiovascular help.
Rose hip tea has mucilaginous properties that coat and sooth mucus membranes, making this a great tea for sore throats. The high pectin content of rose hips can also help to eliminate unwanted substances (like environmental toxins) from your body by binding to them as they move through your system.
Salvia officinalis is native to the Mediterranean and has been celebrated for a great deal of time. The word Salvia derives from the Latin salvere “to feel well and healthy, health, heal”, which is quite a testament to the abilities of this herb! What’s more, the hallmark “officinalis” means that this herb was the official herb used in the storerooms of a monastery, giving it claim to its use as a beloved remedy.
Because of its astringent actions, Sage excels at building tissue, moistening, and rebuilding dry skin and connective tissue, relieving arthritis and joint pain associated with cold, damp weather. It is also helpful for soothing sore and inflamed throats and tonsillitis. It helps to thin and expectorate phlegm from the lungs and dry up postnasal drip and runny sinuses, making this a wonderful winter ally!
Try this recipe for Sage + Thyme Infused Honey to stock your herbal cabinet!
SAGE + THYME INFUSED HONEY
- Fresh or dry sage leaves
- Fresh or dry thyme
- Local raw honey
- Sanitized glass jar with lid
- Funnel (optional but helpful)
- Chopstick or knife
If using fresh herbs:
Chop the herbs and fill a glass jar 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full with your herbs.
If using dried herbs:
Fill a glass jar 1/3 to 1/2 full with your dried herbs.
Next steps for fresh or dried herbs:
- Fill the remainder of the jar full with your honey. Use a chopstick or knife to stir and remove any air bubbles.
- Allow this to infuse for about a month, turning the jar every couple of days to make sure all of the herbs are covered. If using fresh herbs, you may need to remove the cap occasionally to release any air that may have expanded due to small amounts of fermentation.
- After a month, you can strain the herbs. I recommend first soaking your jar in a warm water bath to make the honey a bit more runny. It’s easier to strain that way. Make sure not to heat the water too much or you will destroy the beneficial enzymes in the honey. Use a fine mesh strainer to remove the herbs from your honey and save the honey in a new clean jar. Cap and label. Enjoy for future use! This honey is especially wonderful for sore and scratchy throats.
Ah, the scent of ginger just fills my mind with thoughts of the holidays! There’s good reason why ginger is an ingredient in so many of our beloved holiday foods, like gingerbread cookies! Ginger supports a healthy inflammatory response and has many antimicrobial properties. Plus, the warming action of ginger is great for cold weather.
Drink a cup of ginger tea every day; add ginger to your favorite dishes; or try making a creamy beverage with ginger, like this ginger latte recipe.
Mostly known for it’s soothing action on the nerves, Chamomile is much more robust and multifaceted than is often recognized! Chamomile is a living paradox, both gentle and powerful at the same time. Our digestion can get sluggish in cold winter, so because chamomile stimulates digestive secretions to better utilize food and normalize our digestive function it’s a great winter ally!
What’s more, sleep is so important during this season of rest. Taken before bed, chamomile can help you to get more shut-eye this winter. For a delicious winter cocktail that may be a treat for winding down or a sore throat soother, check out this Chamomile Hot Toddy.