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Winter Wellness, Cold & Flu Season, and Herbal Gift Giving

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. And then there’s the holiday gift lists-what to get for that special someone? 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. And 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 stuff us up 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 us to get enough 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 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 last month’s herbal blog, then you already know that Elderberry is a prominent herb for immunity health during cold & flu season. My absolute favorite way to take it is as a syrup. I take a tablespoon 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-2 tablespoons every 2 hours until symptoms subside. I also love to put it on pancakes and pour it over ice cream or other desserts. It tastes amazing!

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 will be making different variations of it as I do every year, so check back on my products page regularly, but right now I have the classic blend available-a mixture of onion, garlic, horseradish, cayenne, ginger, turmeric, thyme, and black pepper. This tends to sell out quickly, but I make it regularly throughout the season, so if it’s not available remember to check back! If traditional Fire Cider is too spicy for you, or if it’s sold out, you may instead be interested in my Autumn Oxymel Tonic. This one is a sweet & savory taste, that is also excellent for the immune system, with nettle, rose hips, elderberry, oregano, cloves, garlic, cranberries, and beets. It’s a great addition to your Thanksgiving table! Both Fire Cider and Autumn Oxymel can be taken daily by the tablespoon or shot glass as preventative-better yet use daily on salads and veggies, grains, as dressing and marinades. As soon as you start to feel sick increase frequency to every 2-4 hours, along with your Elderberry syrup as a chaser if you have it.

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 Autumn Tonic Tea if you like variety. Both of these tea blends offer a rich, full-bodied blend of immune boosting herbs.

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, there are 2 herbal elixirs 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 tracts. For a harder hitting vitamin C rich preparation, Cold & Flu Elixir brings elder berries & flowers, calendula, rose hips, orange peel, and ginger together to assist us when dealing with the harder hitting colds & flus. Again 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 eating well.

Herbal Gift Giving

Now let’s move on to the fun stuff-what to get for that herbal or wellness enthusiast in your life? Read on for some ideas.

Do you have an herbal tea connoisseur on your list? Maybe they’d like this Tea Sampler Gift Set, which is a blend of 6 of our herbal teas. It’s a great way to try them all-plus the tins are re-useable! Or maybe there’s one blend in particular you know they’d really like-you could package it up with a tea strainer and a mug that suits their personality.

Or maybe you need a hostess gift for Thanksgiving. (even if you are your own host and staying home!) The Fall Celebration Gift Set is the perfect duo for the Thanksgiving table-you have your condiment/dressing/marinade in the Autumn Oxymel Tonic, then after dinner you can all enjoy some Autumn Tonic Tea with your pumpkin pie, to help you digest your meal.

Then there’s the person who always takes care of everyone else, but doesn’t always remember to take care of themselves. Make it easier for them to remember with a Cold Season Immunity Care Package. This has all the herbs needed to keep the immune system working at its best: Immune Building Chai, Elderberry Syrup, and First Sign of Cold Elixir, with the option of swapping either of the latter 2 with Fire Cider and/or Cold & Flu Elixir.

Last but not least, do you have someone on your list that is exhausted and could benefit from some revitalizing herbs? How about our Vitality Gift Set? This includes Vitali-Tea and Vitality Elixir. Both blends are formulated with herbs that help with burnout, stress, and libido, as well as being energizing to body and mind without being overstimulating.

I hope this article has helped inspire some ways to care for yourself this season, as well as some ideas for nourishing your loved ones, by giving the gift of wellness. Stay tuned for next month’s feature, which will include ways to support our nervous systems during the holiday season, as well as some last minute gift ideas.

Also, SAVE THE DATE!!! To celebrate Small Business Saturday and Cyber Week, we will be having a HOLIDAY SALE! 25% off EVERYTHING in the store! Starts on Saturday November November 28 and goes till Sunday December 6. Check the shop on the first day for the coupon code. Thank you for supporting small businesses!