Winter Wellness - Boosting Your Immunity
Registered Medical Herbalist Diana Lee, provides simple advice on boosting immunity as we enter the Winter season.
Diana co founded the veg box scheme Holsworthy Organics way back in the 1990s. Her partner Rob being the major grower on their smallholding. Diana’s love of all things herbal, and belief that Nature offers healing solutions informed a gradual move towards herb growing and now she makes many of her own herbal preparations.
We have had a difficult time over the past few months and it seems set to continue. So this is a timely reminder to keep an eye on your health and wellbeing.
The old saying “prevention is better than a cure” is as true now as it has ever been. Many symptoms that will appear over the coming season will be colds, coughs and flus that we all get at some point. Obviously if you think that your symptoms are potentially Covid-19 then a check on the NHS website is advisable and follow any recommendations regarding tests etc.
In the meantime our immune systems should be doing their job – helping the body to fight any infections caused by unwanted and harmful bacteria and viruses. It is worth remembering that our bodies do contain very many useful bacteria and viruses that keep us healthy too.
Healthy all year round
So think about diet and exercise first – keep healthy all year round and the chances are that you will suffer less in the winter season. This applies to mental health as well – emotional stresses can really deplete the immune system and leave you wide open to illnesses. Use good weather to get out in the garden or have a walk around. Make sure you are eating well – lots of good fresh fruit and vegetables with as many different colours as possible to maximise the goodness; keep hydrated with extra water, diluted juices, herb teas etc.
As a general rule treat acute problems but seek help for chronic or recurring problems, and as stated above seek advice if you are concerned regarding possible Covid-19 symptoms.
Many of the traditional remedies are still the best and can be very effective. Here are a few to help ……
Hot lemon and honey is an old favourite and its effectiveness can be increased by adding a couple of sage leaves if there is a sore throat or a piece of fresh ginger to warm the body and increase the circulation.
Elderflower, yarrow and peppermint tea can be very soothing when a cold or flu starts. It can be made by mixing equal parts of the dried herbs and using 1-2 teaspoons for every cup of boiling water. Allow to infuse for 10 minutes before sipping gently. Add a little local honey if needed.
Elderberries or Blackcurrants are excellent for sore throats and colds and they contain lots of vitamin C. Not available at this time of the year so use those from the freezer, some good quality cordial or even some homemade jam with hot water.
For sinus problems try inhaling eucalyptus essential oil – it’s very strong so just a couple of drops in warm water. It will clear those tubes!
Echinacea tincture is readily available and this can be great when used right at the start, always check the dose on the bottle. It can be taken to help prevent colds and flu but should not be taken for more than six weeks and NOT be taken if you have an auto-immune disorder or for 2 weeks prior to a hospital operation.
Above all, listen to your body – it is telling you to rest and that is the best form of healing. Eat nourishing soups, drink plenty of liquid and snuggle up under the duvet with a hot water bottle! And do keep an eye on your neighbours over this season, some people may be feeling particularly anxious or vulnerable.
A little kindness goes a very long way.
Remember herbs can be very powerful; this article is for information only so always consult a qualified herbalist before using them.
Our thanks to: Diana Lee BEd, DBTh, MIRCH Registered Medical Herbalist www.ceridwenherbs.co.uk
For more information in herbalist training www.irch.org
About the author: The WHAg team love to showcase farmers and supporters who epitomise the ethos of ‘Whole Health’. We live and breathe this approach, which flows through us in farming, work, and family.