Fight Winter Chills with Herbs
Winter time brings cooler weather and with it a number of infectious and viral conditions ranging from the common cold or flu to sinusitis or chest infections.
In today’s modern world we have reached a turning point. Antibiotics revolutionised the world and saved many, many lives. However, we have over-used these miracle medicines to our own detriment. Antibiotic-resistant organisms are on the increase.
We can help ourselves by turning to the plant world. The following are some of the more simple remedies we can turn to from our own kitchen.
Fight Winter Chills with Herbs from the Kitchen!
Garlic – Allium sativum
One such medicinal plant we can all easily take is garlic. Garlic has proven effective in laboratory testing against many pathogens. Increasing our dietary intake of garlic over the winter months can help strengthen our immunity. It is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, expectorant and a circulatory stimulant. All the actions we need over the winter months.
It is worth noting the constituent allicin breaks down on cooking. It is best to eat garlic raw. Ideally toss some chopped garlic into a stir fry and mix through just before serving to preserve the medicinal benefits. Be sure to include lots of dark green leafy vegetables in the stir fry too. Green leafy vegetables are full of essential vitamins and minerals to help ward off those winter bugs.
Some people find garlic too strong on the stomach. If garlic is not for you then both onion and leek are in the same family. They too possess the benefits of garlic albeit in a milder form.
Mustard – Synapsis alba/nigra
Have you heard of a mustard foot bath? There is nothing better for your cold feet than a mustard foot bath.
Grind some mustard seeds with a mortar and pestle and add two teaspoons with two litres of warm water to a basin. Sit back, relax and soothe those feet.
It is a wonderful comfort after that ache in the bones of your feet and toes from the cold. A treat after a tiring day Christmas shopping or working.
Mességué suggested black mustard was more powerful in action than white mustard though both can be used. Mabey recommends Synapsis nigra (black mustard) footbaths for chilblains and poor circulation.
Culpeper assigned mustard a herb of Mars although Aries, he suggested, laid a claim on it which he indicated would strengthen the heart. It certainly is a well known circulatory stimulant.
Ginger – Zingiber officinale
The root (rhizome) is used in herbal medicine. Fresh or dried root.
Ginger root can be infused as a herbal tea if the root is sliced finely. One or two slices per teapot will suffice, if you are using it as a flavouring only. In this way it imparts a warm, delicate flavour.
However, for medicinal use it is best to decoct and 5-10 minutes is usually sufficient time for simmering. Once strained you can add some lemon juice or honey for a warm, healing drink. Easily added to a flask to take to work and sip throughout the day.
As a winter evening drink, before bed, I like to add a wee tot of whisky too. Not a recommended addition to the work flask though!
Ginger has many medicinal properties. It will induce sweating in a fever to lower body temperature so it excellent for general chesty conditions. Being a peripheral circulatory stimulant it is a wonderful regular winter drink for poor circulation where one has cold hands and feet.
Both ginger and mustard are rubefacient. Rubefacients are excellent to fight winter chills. When used externally (such as the mustard bath) they draw the blood supply to the skin. This action increases heat in the tissue. This action is beneficial for cold conditions particularly rheumatic aches and pains as well as muscle aches and pains. Also used for poor circulation as they increase circulation.
The above are a few simple ways to fight winter chills with herbs from the kitchen.
Finally if you would like to learn more about using herbs to fight winter chills and boost immunity look out for future Thyme Breaks courses.