We are now entering into late Autumn. With the coming of November, some of us are turning our thoughts toward hearth fires, good food, the smell of pumpkin pie or mulled cider, and the coming holiday season. We also start to think about wintertime wellness, and may be wondering how best to support our immune systems during cold & flu season. For some people, this time of year can be incredibly stressful, and if you’re one of those, you may be thinking about ways to cope with seasonal (or year-round) stress. In this month’s blog, I’d like to explore these topics and offer some tips and possible solutions.
Immunity and Cold & Flu Support
This is the time of year where I think it’s really important to have a solid herbal wellness plan. With the darker time of year, our bodies naturally crave more rest and sleep. Sleep is so important for our immune systems. It’s a good idea to aim for 8 hours a night. Some people need more or less than that. If you are lucky enough to be in a situation where you can get up without an alarm clock and let yourself sleep until you feel rested, now is the season to do it! If not, do your best to go to sleep early enough to feel rested the next day.
Hydration is also crucial to wellness. Drinking water helps to flush out any of the toxic buildup that’s been hanging around in our bodies. It’s also energizing. I drink a quart of water every morning instead of coffee. If I miss a day, I feel the difference. Many times a simple large glass of water has worked wonders for joint, muscular, or other types of pain. I’m talking about pure water here. Herbal tea is great too, and we’ll get into that in a bit, but make sure you drink pure water also. An interesting thing I learned is that if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. So keep a bottle of water with you, and drink it regularly. I shoot for 2 quarts a day, plus my daily teas and herbal infusions. You may need more, especially if you’re an athlete or work outside, or otherwise more active than the norm.
Next is healthy food. There are many different types of diets, do whatever works best for you. One thing many (if not all) food lifestyles agree on is that we need lots of vegetables. So eat a rainbow of fresh produce-organic if possible, and locally grown whenever possible. There is wisdom in Mother Nature and her seasons. If we eat what she offers when she offers it, we know that we are getting the kind of nourishment we need for each season. And eat it as whole and unprocessed as possible, keeping in mind that the further away we get from nature, the further away we get from health. So the closer we get to nature and her seasonal cycles and offerings, the closer we get to optimum health. Vitamin supplements are great for people who are deficient, but if you’re not deficient and you have access to fresh seasonal produce and sunshine, it’s best to get our vitamins and minerals from the plethora of food and herbs Nature has to offer us. Oh, and I KNOW how tempting sugar is this time of year. Keep in mind it wrecks havoc on the immune system though. A little every now and then wouldn’t be so bad as long as you’re eating whole foods and drinking lots of water, getting good sleep, etc. But best to limit it as much as possible. Same goes for dairy and gluten-they can cause inflammation and stuff us up in various ways if taken in excess. So again, just being mindful of what we are eating and paying attention to how we are feeling afterward is a good practice to tune into our bodies.
Exercise is important for immunity because it moves the lymph. This is a crucial piece of the detoxification process. The lymphatic system needs help, it doesn’t have a pump like the heart does. And we know exercise is good for the cardiovascular system as well. And doing it in the full sunshine helps our bodies to make vitamin D. As a matter of fact, it’s a good practice to get an hour of sunshine every single day that the sun is out, to help your body build up vitamin D stores, even more important if you live in a climate where the sun doesn’t shine as much in the winter. If you are unable to get in the sun at least 3 hours a week, you may benefit from vitamin D supplementation.
And now to my favorite part of winter wellness-the herbs! If you’ve read some of my other articles then you may already know that Elderberry is a prominent herb for immunity health during cold & flu season. I take a tablespoon of Elderberry Syrup or 3-5 dropperfuls of Elderberry Elixir every morning as a preventative, then if I do feel like I’m coming down with something I start taking it at the very first sign of illness-every 2 hours until symptoms subside. I also love to put Elderberry syrup on pancakes and pour it over ice cream or other desserts. It tastes amazing! To learn more about the benefits of elderberry (and flower!) check out this article.
Another herbal staple I try to always keep on hand is Fire Cider. Fire Cider is a blend of strong and spicy herbs, in a base of apple cider vinegar and honey. There are many variations on Fire Cider and each herbalist will put their own spin on it. I make different variations of it every year, and it sells out almost as fast as I can make it. If it’s sold out at the time you read this, check back on our products page regularly. For Humboldt County locals, I highly recommend stopping in at one of the many holiday markets and craft fairs we will be at (Scroll down for a 2022 list below). Not everything I make is able to make it to the website this time of year, and there may be a secret stash Fire Cider in stock (same goes for Elderberry Syrup). Feel free to drop us an email and ask if you’re interested and don’t see it here. Fire Cider can be taken daily by the tablespoon or shot glass-better yet use daily on salads and veggies, grains, as dressing and marinades.
Can’t forget about herbal tea! For all you chai lovers out there, life just got good! Our Immune Building Chai is the perfect daily drink to sip in front of the fire. Alternate with Throat Support Tea if your throat needs some extra love. Both of these tea blends offer a rich, full-bodied blend of wintertime wellness boosting herbs.
I Think I’m Coming Down with Something. Now What?
What to do if you catch a cold or flu? The first thing would be to brew up a cup of fresh ginger tea, with honey and lemon, drink that and then sleep. In addition to the Fire Cider and Elderberry Syrup or Elixir there is another herbal elixir that would be great to have on hand for times like this. First Sign of Cold Elixir uses the antimicrobial power of thyme, ginger, and lemon. As the name says, it needs to be taken at the very first sign of that under weather feeling for best results. I take a few dropperfuls every hour or 2, and if I catch it early enough it will usually be all I need to stop a cold in its tracks. It’s always best to take it right from the start, but if you don’t catch it early enough, you still may have an easier time with your symptoms if the herbs are taken frequently, and you are resting, getting enough fluids, and honoring your body.
The important things to remember when using herbs for cold and flu support is EARLY and OFTEN. The herbs mentioned in this article are all herbs that can and should be used abundantly. So please be generous with your dosing whenever you can. The other thing to know is herbs are only a piece of the puzzle. Proper nourishment, hydration, rest, exercise, and stress management are all important parts of a successful winter wellness routine.
Soul Nourishment for the Season
One last part of Wintertime Wellness-nourishing your spirit! As the seasons shift, we look to the plants to show us how to live. Many plants are letting go of their aerial parts (leaves and flowers) and sending their energy down to the roots, to rest and be nourished, so that they can come back happy and healthy in the Spring. I take my cue from my herbal allies and do my best to slow down. rest more, and eat hearty nourishing roots, soups, and stews. Good books by the fire. Long hot baths. You get the idea. This November, as you snuggle up with a special loved one or some much needed me time, I invite you to try our limited edition seasonal cordial, Fall In Love Autumnal Elixir. This exquisite blend has a taste that sums up the goodness of Autumn. Made with plants of the season that possess aphrodisiac qualities, while supporting the cardiovascular and digestive systems, this elixir is the perfect Thanksgiving hostess gift. Share it at your seasonal gathering to open your heart and let the gratitude flow. Or enjoy some alone time appreciating the gifts of Autumn.
Oh and one last thing: To celebrate the season, we are having a SALE right now! Now until November 17th, enjoy 20% OFF YOUR ENTIRE ORDER by using the coupon code EARLYBIRD22 at checkout. Now is the perfect time to stock up on all your Winter Wellness needs. Click here to visit the shop. May you experience many abundant health and blessings this holiday season, and always.
And for all you Humboldt County locals,
Be sure to come visit our booth at any of these 2022 holiday events! We will have free tea samples, along with free tastes of elderberry syrup, fire cider, and herbal elixirs. Special in-person only deals and customized herbal gifts available.