Even during the darkest season of the year…
…our days can be full of life and good health.
For those of us who carry the burning fire of natural health, we have herbal medicine.
Which makes us — during a time when ailments, fever, and illness abound — prepared to fend off and/or treat these maladies.
Here’s a list of the best, must-have herbs and remedies to stock now!
Must-Have Herbs & Remedies for Winter
Master Tonic (a.k.a. Fire Cider)
Fire Cider is a traditional remedy with deep roots in folk medicine. The tasty combination of vinegar infused with powerful anti-microbial, decongestant, and spicy circulatory movers makes this recipe especially pleasant and easy to incorporate into your daily diet to help boost natural immune system processes, stimulate digestion, and get you nice and warmed up on cold days.
For the treatment of infections and allergies alike…neti pots are fast becoming a super popular, mainstream remedy for stuffy sinuses across the board. Neti pots work by rinsing your nasal cavity with a saline solution, it’s a natural way to cleanse your nasal passages from bacterial/viral pathogens, pollen, pollution, dust, a variety of allergens, and loosens mucus.
Note: I’ve used several types (of nasal passage rinse contraptions) and brands of neti pots over the course of the past few years…this one’s the BEST. I also keep this Neti Pot Wash on hand (it’s made with himalayan salts and essential oils) and these Neti Pot Salts.
Read more :: How to Treat Respiratory Illness with Herbs
This is by no means an exhaustive list of wonderful roots, berries, leaves and flowers beneficial during the months of winter. However, these are my must-haves:
- Echinacea. Echinacea is one of the best general remedies for helping the body rid itself of microbial infections. In conjunction with other “guiding” herbs (such as uva ursi, myrrh, garlic, thyme, colloidal silver, mullein, Oregon grape root, and goldenseal) it may be used for any infection or inflammation anywhere in the body. It is often effective against both bacterial and viral attacks. Note: For a quick and easy dose of echinacea…I keep this Cold & Flu-Organic Echinacea Plus Tea by Traditonal Medicinals and a mason jar full of these homemade cold care capsules stocked all winter.
- Garlic. Garlic’s power and value as a healing agent is unsurpassed and cannot be overstated…it has been used throughout history as an effective antibiotic. Garlic’s broad antimicrobial spectrum incorporates antifungal, antiparasitic, antiprotozoan, and antiviral attributes in one food source. Garlic is most potent chewed or crushed raw. Nothing science has ever created comes close to doing what garlic can do.
- Elderberry. Elderberries are held in high esteem in areas all over the world. Known for their outstanding ability to ward off and cure the common cold and/or flu virus, elderberries make some of the most frugally sustainable remedies and should be a part of everyone’s medicine chest! Note: Learn how to make your own elderberry syrup, tincture, and tea here. Need it now?!? I love this brand.
- Mullein. Mullein’s gentle nature makes it one of the very best herbs for use with children. It basically helps break up bacteria and heal ailments affecting the upper respiratory tract, ears, and sinuses. Numerous studies report its ability to reduce upper respiratory infection symptoms, such as fatigue, ear ache, sore throat, cough and headache. Note: Keep this ear oil!
- Myrrh. Myrrh has been used by natural healers for hundreds of years. It is touted for its antiseptic, antibiotic and antiviral properties. It can be taken internally and used externally as a gargle or wash for wounds. It is most commonly recommended for bacterial oral infections (including mouth sores), bronchitis, and sore throats. Myrrh should only be used during the acute phase of the illness and is not suitable for long-term internal use. Note: I always keep a bottle of Mountain Rose Herbs Myrrh Extract on hand!
- Sage. Among the Ancients and throughout the Middle Ages, sage was held in high esteem. Hippocrates held the position, “Cur moriatur homo cui Salvia crescit in horto?” (“Why should a man die while Sage grows in his garden?”) The list of the benefits of sage is long and impressive. It’s ability to heal ailments of the mouth, teeth, blood, joints, liver, urine, head, sinuses, throat, lungs, and stomach is truly amazing! Note: Make a simple sage tea and drink it this time of year as needed.
- Thyme. According to Philip Fritchey’s book in his book Practical Herbalism: Ordinary Plants with Extraordinary Powers “Modern herbalists value thyme for its expectorant and antibacterial properties and it is frequently used in preparations to support and protect the respiratory system. The essential oil is an effective disinfectant and natural preservative that is used in many skin preparations, not only for its therapeutic effect, but to protect the product itself from microbial contamination and spoilage.”
The article “Research on Antibiotics Reveals Silver Acts as a Booster“ states:
The use of silver in the battle against pathogenic bacteria goes way back into antiquity. Hippocrates was one of the first to describe its antimicrobial properties in 400 B.C. Over the past few years, several studies have demonstrated the fact that silver is indeed one of the most effective agents in the battle against antibiotic-resistant super pathogens. Yet conventional medicine has largely dismissed such claims, relegating colloidal silver to the “woo-woo” section of medical myth. They may be inclined to change their tune however, in light of the latest research which shows that low doses of silver can make antibiotics up to 1,000 times more effective, and may even allow an antibiotic to successfully combat otherwise antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Note: This is the colloidal silver I keep stocked in our wellness pantry at home…Colloidal Silver Immune Support
Sage Smudge Sticks
Our own North American native traditions speak to the many benefits of smudging by burning white sage bundles or sticks. Burning sage has been used for centuries in practices and rituals to clear a space (i.e. home, office, room, body, and spirit) of stale and/or negative energy. This could include: negative emotions of fear, anger, tension, anxiety, and stress (can anyone say winter holiday family gatherings?!?!).
Holding on to these emotions, and allowing them to influence our homes (the most sacred of spaces), can have a strong impact on our health.
Not to mention, it is good to open the windows and doors — especially during winter when our tendency is to close everything up — and allow the smudging smoke to clear the stale air. Lest we forget the anti-bacterial properties of sage.
Note: These are the sage smudge sticks I use in my home.
Manuka honey is so much more than just a natural sweetener. Manuka honey, which has not been pasteurized or filtered, can be especially useful for medicinal, antibiotic purposes. Manuka honey can be used: as a preservative, to sooth a sore throat and ease a cough (source). Note: This is the only Manuka Honey I use. It is approved by the Unique Manuka Factor® Honey Association (UMFHA) and holds a separate license to use the UMF® trademark. Only organizations with a license are allowed to use the UMF® trademark. Note: I use this honey to sweeten medicinal teas and to make this most excellent remedy.
Essential oils are a great way to strengthen the body during winter. They work to lift our spirits while preventing and healing illness. I use essential oils internally, via diffusion, and topically.
Although my wellness pantry is ridiculously full of oils, if I had to keep only a few…these would make the cut:
- Oregano. High in antioxidant activity, Oregano essential oil contains antimicrobial properties that can help fight colds and coughs, improve digestive issues, and can support your immune and respiratory systems. In fact, one study shows that Oregano essential oil was found (along with a couple other essential oils such as thyme, peppermint, cinnamon, sage, and clove) to have the strongest antimicrobial properties. Click here to read the study. Tips For Use: ***Have a cough? Put 1 drop of Oregano is a teaspoon of honey or a small glass of water and swallow. If you don’t like the taste use an empty capsule. ***Put one drop in 2 ounces of water and gargle for treatment of a sore throat. ***If you feel like you are coming down with the flu…Flu Bomb! Mix 3 drops Oregano + 5 drops On Guard + 5 drops Melaleuca + 5 drops Lemon! Adults apply undiluted to feet (use carrier oil for children — I only use the BEST coconut oil on the planet) or add to an empty capsule to take internally. Use every two-three hours.
- Tea Tree, Lavender, Peppermint, Lemon, Patchouli, Thyme, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Sage, Sweet Orange, Cinnamon…okay geez…maybe I wouldn’t be able to live without my oils!!!
For pure, safe essential oils you can trust, choose :
- Mountain Rose Herbs…they have a the best, most complete selection of pure, organic oils
- Plant Therapy (I LOVE these oils)
Homeopathic remedies are just another staple in my wellness pantry. Working with our bodies’ ability to heal itself, homeopathic remedies are super effective and quick and easy to get on board as soon as symptoms hit.
Here are the few must-haves:
- Boiron Homeopathic Medicine Oscillococcinum for Flu
- Boiron Coldcalm Cold Relief Tablets
- Hyland’s Cold ‘n Cough 4 Kids
- Hyland’s Sore Throat Tablets
+Because they work gently and effectively.
+Because you can grow many yourselves, right outside your front door or even in your kitchen.
+Because it’s our birthright to use the gifts of nature with respect and wisdom.
+Because up until relatively recently, at least in the western world, herbs were an integral part of taking care of ourselves.
Health doesn’t come from plastic bottles. Vitality grows naturally from the way you live your life. Deep down, people already know this.
If you want to learn more about herbs as medicine and as food, and if you’re just too busy to enroll in an in-person program, join the Herbal Academy of New England for a comprehensive and convenient online herbal course you can complete anywhere and anytime!
Learn what your great ancestors knew about the natural world and begin to build your own apothecary.
Start classes anytime! Click this link to learn more and register.
What are your must-have herbs and remedies for winter? Share them with us in the comments!