The hustle and bustle of the winter season can wreak havoc on our systems, but thankfully mother nature has many things available to help. If we slow down, listen to our bodies, and use the things she has to offer, we can prevent ourselves from becoming overloaded. Along with a local, seasonal diet, a few of my favorite herbs I keep in my winter wellness arsenal are holy basil, rosehips, nettle, and elderberry syrup.
Holy Basil, a plant native to India, is known by healers there as the “Queen of Herbs”. Holy Basil is an adaptogen. Adaptogens help to normalize bodily processes and help the body to adapt to stress by gently calming the fight or flight response. A perfect herb to prepare us for the stresses of the season! My favorite way to consume this herb is in tea form, but tinctures and capsules are also readily available at your favorite natural food store. This beautiful and fragrant herb is super easy to grow in our Tennessee climate, so consider adding it to your garden next year.
Rosehips are the fruit of the rose plant. They form in the late summer and autumn after the flowers have fallen. Rosehips are not just for skincare and can be enjoyed in many forms. Some of my favorites are jam, infused honey, tinctures, and tea. These little fruits really pack a health punch because they are packed full of vitamins C, A, E, B, and minerals including calcium, iron, selenium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. I love using rosehips for my immune system because they contain more vitamin C than citrus fruits- a great addition to your herbal medicine cabinet this winter!
If I had to pick one herb to have on hand all the time it would be Stinging Nettle. Stinging Nettle is a nutritive herb. Nutritive herbs are known for being very nutrient dense and nourishing. Some of nettles nutrients include vitamins A, C, K, B, minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, and phytonutrients such as chlorophyll, lutein, and beta-carotene. Some of the uses of this amazing plant are its ability to help detoxify, increase circulation, and alleviate the symptoms of seasonal allergies. I love to drink an infusion of this amazing herb every day for its nutritive boost. I make it a quart at a time and sip on it over the course of a couple of days. To make this mineral rich infusion, add one ounce of the plant to 1 quart of water and let steep overnight or about 8 hours, strain, and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. Nettle is another herb that does well in our climate. Add it to your garden in a shady, moist location with lots of room to spread, and you will have nettle for life!
I have people ask me regularly if there is any legitimacy to all the “hype” around elderberry syrup and the immune system. My answer is always YES! I love elderberry syrup and always start taking a teaspoon a day when the kids go back to school. It is so fun and easy to make, here’s a basic recipe so you can make your own. Feel free to get creative and add your own herbal spin!
Basic Elderberry Syrup
1 cup elderberries
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp clove
½ cup raw, local honey
2 cups filtered water
In a heavy bottomed pot, add all ingredients but the honey and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes
Strain out all liquid, pressing berries with a wooden spoon to extract all the juice. While still warm, add the honey and mix until fully incorporated. Pour mixture into sterilized jars and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Take one tsp daily through cold and flu season as a preventative, or up to 2-3 times daily if feeling under the weather.