Nourish - How to Thrive This Winter: Herbs to Nourish Your Immune System
Welcome to this two-part blog series on How to Thrive This Winter.
Part one focuses specifically on Herbs to Nourish Your Immune System. Part two, which you will find by clicking here, focuses on How to Nourish Your Microbiome.
Let’s crack on shall we!
With its long nights and chilly weather, winter will very soon be upon us. Unsurprisingly, we naturally become more drawn towards warmer conditions and cosying up at home, hibernation style. As modern-day beings, however, we are often going out into the cold elements to get to work or to childcare, for example, thereby exposing ourselves to the vulnerabilities of the season.
Seasonal sniffles and festive stress are not always a welcome addition to the time of year, but fortunately, our body’s are excellently constructed for surviving such events. Each and every one of our body systems interact with each other constantly to help maintain homeostasis. (Aka a self-regulating process by which we maintain stability and adjust to conditions that are optimal for survival.)
In today’s blog post, I will cover 4 herbs to help you thrive this winter. We shall use the power of plants to gently assist the body in its immune function by caring for every part of our internal ecosystem. As we know, everything is interconnected within us, which means when we care for our immune, digestive, respiratory and nervous systems, we ultimately care for our overall internal ecosystem.
4 Herbs to Nourish Your Immune System
Given the current circumstances, naturally, many of us have our immune system health as a priority, and rightly so. Let’s take a look at and some plant-powered ways to nourish your immune system this winter.
Certainly, you’ve heard me say this before, but feeding yourself with nourishing and nutritious food is an absolute necessity for a happy immune system.
Hearty soups, stews, curries, roasted root veggies and such are wondrous additions to your daily lifestyle. Check out our recipe section for inspiration!
Equally, and importantly, medicinal herbs are an easy way to nourish your immune system and simple to add into your daily routine. Think teas, lattes, soups, syrups, powders or tinctures.
Let’s take a look at my personal favourites…
No. 1 – Elderberry
Elderberries are a delicious addition to your herbal medicine cupboard for helping to ward off illness as well as soothe one should you be struck down. They’re loaded with vitamins and bioflavonoids, plus they offer fantastic anti-viral and anti-inflammatory effects.
If you’re suffering already from a cold or other upper respiratory symptoms, elderberry helps to make them more tolerable by reducing mucous secretions.
And thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects, it also helps fight the swelling of the respiratory passages. This means less discomfort and difficulty breathing.
- Try it as a syrup such as Pukka Elderberry syrup, or make your own (I’ll guide you through how here).
- Alternatively, you can have a tasty tea like Pukka’s Elderberry and Echinacea brew which is delicious.
- Naturally, you can also take it in supplement form. We have Wild Nutrition Immune Support and Terra Nova Astragalus & Elderberry.
No. 2 – Echinacea
I’d say many of you have heard of this wonderous herb by now. And for good reason too! Echinacea is a traditional herbal remedy for colds and flu. Not only does it help to support your immune system in preventing an infection, but it also helps the body fight the symptoms should you already have one.
It’s really easy to take and in a multitude of ways.
- There’s tea, such as Pukka Wonder Berry Green (which also contains glorious ingredients including Elderberries, blackcurrant, rosehip and beetroot).
- Then there are herbal tinctures such as A.Vogel Echinaforce or Irish Botanica Echinacea.
- Additionally, and an absolute favourite, is A.Vogel Echinaforce Hot Drink. This little gem combines the well-known fresh Echinacea root with herb extracts of Black Elderberry to produce a soothing hot drink. If you need a little help to fight off symptoms such as aching limbs and headaches when you are struck down by the cold or flu, this is your new friend.
No. 3 – Reishi
It’s impossible not to mention this beauty. I adore this herb. Well, mushroom.
When talking about immune health, and especially respiratory health, Reishi must be mentioned. Historically, Reishi mushrooms have been used for thousands of years as an immune and longevity tonic, and they still live up to this claim.
Reishi helps to boost the body’s immune system to protect it from harmful pathogens, like viruses, parasites and bacteria. Essentially, this mushroom helps to defend you against any nasty bugs or viruses going around.
These mushrooms help to regulate the immune system as well as improve its natural ability to fight invaders. So of course, this fellow goes on the list for how to thrive this winter.
Learn more about it in my blog post:
Traditionally, reishi mushroom was used to make a healing tea, but nowadays you can easily add it into your daily routine in a powdered form. Simply mix it into smoothies, shakes, coffee, tea or with hot water.
We have other options, including:
No. 4 – Astragalus
Astragalus has a very long history of use, predominantly in China where it is one of the great tonic herbs of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In fact, this herb may just be the number one Lung Tonic commonly used in Chinese medicine. Astragalus has long been used for building and strengthening the immune system both before and after an illness.
Astragalus has been traditionally used for centuries to:
- strengthen and tonify the immune system
- improve immune activity
- protect against colds and other contagious illnesses
- cultivate a healthy circulatory system
- help protect against mental and physical stress
- bring down inflammation
- boost vitality
When we’re talking about the subject of respiratory health, we can’t forget Astragalus since it is especially good for the lungs. Astragalus works by building up the immune defences, helping to move out catarrh, and working as an anti-inflammatory. It’s great for colds, the flu and any difficulty breathing (such as asthma).
It’s really easy to add this herb into your diet.
- We sell it in tincture form and capsules. If you have the dried herb, try mixing it into some homemade miso soup *mm chefs kiss*
- This herb pairs really well with other herbs such as Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, reishi mushroom (or any medicinal mushroom to be honest!). Additionally, it’s marvellous when used with herbs such as elderberry and garlic.
Of course, there are a plethora of other herbs I could mention, but I’m trying to keep it short and sweet.
Others worth mentioning, however, include liquorice, cinnamon, oregano oil, olive leaf extract and turmeric.
For Part Two of this blog series, check it out here.
If you’re interested in learning more about ways to support your immune system this upcoming winter season, have a read over these blog posts:
- 8 Natural Tips to Halt Your Cold in Its Tracks
- 7 Supportive Herbs for Your Respiratory System
- 6 Helpful Herbs You May Not Have Heard Of But Should
- East to West, Tea’s the Best: 9 of our Favourite Health Benefiting Teas
- 5 Essential Pantry Ingredients to Support Your Health This Change of Season
- Support Your Immune System now with These 5 Things
- 5 Top Foods for Staying Healthy This Winter
Any questions? Drop into your local Nourish store to chat with our expert team and explore our full range of foods, supplements and skincare. You can also find our full product range in our online store.
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention.
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication