By Erin LaFaive
During cold winter months our bodies and minds may experience more stress as they try to stay warm, defend against harmful germs encountered from being in close quarters with others, and maintain energy needed to keep up with extra demands from the holidays when all we want to do is hibernate.
Stressed-out bodies and minds may lead to increased susceptibility to colds and flu. Herbal remedies that support the body to fight off these kinds of illnesses include elderberry syrup. It’s high in vitamin C and can be taken daily by the tablespoon or added to water and smoothies. Culinary herbs have anti-microbial properties too. Add herbs such as oregano, thyme, sage, garlic, and onion daily, to recipes.
Nourishing infusions of oat straw help soothe nerves over time. It’s also rich in calcium and magnesium. Use one ounce of dried herb and add one quart of boiling water (I like to use a one quart mason jar). Add a lid, but don’t tighten it, and let the infusion steep for about 2 to 4 hours. Drink at least one cup per day. Oat straw comes from the same plant used to make oatmeal, therefore you can imagine that oat straw infusion tastes like watered-down oatmeal. The plant is sometimes sold as only the unripened tops called “milky oat tops” or just the dried stalk and leaves called “oat straw.” Either can be used, however milky oat tops tend to be more expensive.
Herbs known as nervines can help soothe frayed nerves. Mild nervines include chamomile, catnip, and lemon balm. They can be drank as a tea or used in tincture form. For a tea to impart its medicinal properties, a person must drink up to three cups per day. Tinctures are another option to ingesting herbal remedies. They are usually made by steeping the herb in alcohol for approximately four weeks. However, non-alcohol versions are made using vegetable glycerin.
Where to purchase herbs and other remedies? Look at local health stores that carry bulk herbs and other herbal remedies. My go-to for on-line sources include Mountain Rose Herbs, Frontier Co-op, Zack Woods Herb Farm, and HerbPharm.
Erin LaFaive, MS, is trained as a master herbalist, owns Full Circle Herbals, and has an office at Harmony Healing Center, 2411 North Hillcrest Parkway Suite 11, Altoona, Wisconsin. Contact her for a free 15-minute consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.