Winter is a time for slowing down, for rest. In Ayurveda this is known as the Vata season, where air and ether are most dominant. The qualities of this season are known as cold, light, airy, spacious. We feel the urge to hibernate and are typically less active due to extreme temperatures.
Luckily, there's a bounty of great herbs easily accessible to warm the body and support the immune system. You have the power to strengthen your health and build resiliency.
Here are herbal tips to support your health. You can get all of them in the grocery stores or a local shop, helping you maintain balance. While this is certainly not a one-size-fits all approach, these are herbal recommendations traditionally used for immune support.*
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory and warms cold, stagnant energy. It was written about in ancient Sanskrit and Chinese texts for its benefits with immunity and digestion. It helps upset stomach as well as nausea. Chop up or grate fresh ginger and put it in the bottom of a cup for a simple infusion pour-over. Note if you have overactive digestion, you'll want to take this in smaller quantities.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa)Turmeric is beloved for it's richness in curcumionids and immune-supporting properties. As Maria Noel Groves writes in her book Body into Balance, Turmeric “is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, vascular, and liver support, and general protective properties...Populations in India and Okinawa that consume turmeric regularly tend to have long, healthy life spans and exhibit significantly less incidence of these brain diseases. Turmeric is more bioavailable if you cook it with some oil. Adding a bit of black pepper improves absorption by 2,000 times!” Turmeric and chamomile are great to mix together for a digestive aid. You can enjoy it in Golden Milk, with Chai tea, add to eggs or a curry.
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis)Antibacterial, anti-fungal, and an antioxidant, Rosemary is a wunderkind of herbs! It’s a warming herb that helps with blood circulation. It has proven effects to help with memory loss (PubMed), benefiting offset or delay the effects of Alzheimer’s. It strengthens hair and great in ACV as a shampoo (Healthline). Whereas most people are used to having rosemary with chicken, fish or in a dish, it's great as a standalone for tea.
Garlic (Allium sativum)
Garlic is a hot and moist herb, meaning that it brings heat to the body and lubricates dryness. This panacea of herbs is antiviral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and more. Herbalist Matthew Wood shares that it's one of the most widely-used herb amongst ancient civilizations. Enjoy the recipe for Garlic Tea below and learn more about its many properties here from Sawmill Herb Farm.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)
Cinnamon is naturally sweet while helping to stabilize blood sugar levels. It's a warming, circulatory herb which means that it can aid with normal blood flow. This is a great herb for women's menstrual cramps and helping promote normal immune function. The versatility of cinnamon makes it a perfect herb to have in the house. Add Cinnamon to a delicious drink in the winter, to applesauce, in a Golden Milk paste, smoothie, or however you wish to enjoy it!
Tea and Decoctions
You can infuse any of these herbs as a beautiful, simple tea. Just use 1-2 tbsp per 8oz hot water. Or you could make a decoction which is boiling herbs in water on a low heat for about 20 minutes, then straining it out. This will be stronger.
Powerful Garlic Tea
Created for the Winter season, this herbal tea gets the job done! Drink 5-6 x a day when feeling a cold coming on.
- Chop an entire head of garlic and boil it in the largest pot you have, adding in around 2 quarts of water. Boil this on a low setting, for 20 min - up to 2 hours.
- After 20 minutes of the garlic, add in ginger, cinnamon, and hibiscus or rosehips. The cinnamon provides sweetness and helps with the bioavailability. The hibiscus or rosehips are high in vitamin C.
- Upon completion, remove pot from flame and filter out all herbs with a fine mesh strainer. Sip the tea infusion and drink one cup every hour throughout the day. It may sound a little funky but this could provide great relief. Enjoy!
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is educational and not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please note that this information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by a licensed physician or other healthcare professional, consult your doctor if you take medications or have any concerns.