“TRADITIONAL MEDICINALS FOR WINTER”
Winter may have officially arrived on December 21st, 2007 but for most of us winter arrived earlier this past month with an ice storm, bitter north wind and several inches of blowing snow. Along with it come all those really fun activities- shoveling and shoveling and, more shoveling. Even if you are a winter sports enthusiast you are giving your muscles and joints an incredibly hard workout in the cold. Our bodies could use some help from some of natures most enduring and simple herbs too offset the stress of the cold.
Warm up and cool down all at the same time with Ginger. This is one of my all time most favorites, and so versatile. When coming in from the outdoors nothing warms the body like a soothing cup of ginger tea with a twist of lemon and sweetened with a bit of honey. Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce muscle and joint soreness. Known as an adaptogen ginger boosts immunity and strengthens digestion. Ginger soothes a sore throat and calms a cough. It raises body temperature and eases the aches and pains of flu and cold.
Don’t throw those ginger tea bags out. While drawing a hot bath heat two quarts of water along with the ginger tea bags and bring them to a boil for 5-7 minutes. Pour the boiled tea into your bath for the most soothing winter bath you’ve ever experienced.
For overworked sore muscles, minor sprains, strains or injuries from falls without fracture use arnica. This hardy herb grows high in the Sierra Madre Mountains as well as the Siberian plains and works well for cold weather trauma and injury. This gentle hard working plant will reduce bruising, swelling, pain and inflammation. Apply Arniflora gel directly to the injured area immediately. I can’t stress enough how important it is to use this herb immediately upon injury.
For the aches and pains of flu and cold use White Willow bark. The forerunner of aspirin this herb works like aspirin to reduce fever and ease associated aches, pains and inflammation.
To help fight off viral infections use any one of the following immune strengtheners: Echinacea, Golden Seal, Astralagus or Cats Claw. All of these herbs have been shown to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. Echinacea known to us as the Purple Cone Flower is a good choice. Common to the Midwest it resonates well with those living here. Golden Seal is particularly good for bronchial coughs and colds. Use Astralagus in place of Echinacea if you are sensitive to ragweed.
Herbs work naturally with the body and during times of illness and may produce symptoms of cleansing, which many confuse with a worsening of their illness. If your symptoms are severe, lessen the use of the herb or switch to another herb that may resonate with your body and symptoms without as many cleansing symptoms. Never ignore serious symptoms.
With the onset of the snow and the bitter cold the last of my herbs have tucked their heads down under a blanket of snow for a long winters’ nap. Maybe we need to mind the wisdom of our wise friends from the plant kingdom. If you are struggling with a cold or that miserable flu that has plagued so many, nothing heals like rest. Till next time, Rebecca.