Depending on where you live, it might still feel like summer or perhaps the colder days of the year have already begun. In Australia, our cold and flu season is right around the corner, so it’s essential to have your winter home apothecary stocked with herbs that can help support you and your family when you most need it. In this article, I will share with you my essential herbal allies for the colder months.
The list below are some of my staple herbals that I always ensure my winter home apothecary is stocked with before cold weather arrives. Remember to always research each herb you choose thoroughly for any personal safety concerns or contraindications before using them.
Most of us know turmeric (Curcuma longa) as the vibrant orange powder located in the spice section between thyme and vanilla beans. And many of us use turmeric root powder in our cooking, particularly if we have an affinity for preparing Indian-inspired dishes. Similar to the root-like component of its cousin ginger, turmeric has been a staple of Indian food traditions for millennia and has a long history of healing use (over 4000 years) in Ayurvedic, Traditional Chinese, and Siddhic medicinal traditions.
- Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory
Cinnamon’s virtues extend beyond its taste and aroma, however, and we can think of cinnamon as an important spice in our herbal apothecary. It just so happens that this herb is one that we can enjoy in foods, making it all the easier to incorporate it into our daily diets.
- Warming and stimulates energy that can enhance circulation throughout the body.
- It’s a carminative, cinnamon aids in the digestion of fats and settles indigestion.
- It is helpful for stabilising blood sugar and lowering cholesterol.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) rhizome is most commonly used in the kitchen given its slightly sweet, spicy, and strong aromatic flavors. However, there are many ways you can use ginger every day in your herbal practice, too! From helping soothe muscle pain, enhancing overall circulation, and nipping colds in the bud, ginger has many uses on its own and as a complementary herb in formulas.
- Supports brain function
- Soothes sore muscles and joint pain
- Ginger is a staple herb in many cold and flu formulas for a good reason. Well-known for supporting the clearance of viruses and respiratory congestion, ginger is a great herb to draw from when you feel the onset of sickness encroaching or if you have already come down with something (Gladstar, 2012).
Thyme’s botanical name comes from the Greek word thymos, which means strong. Over the centuries, this warming and drying herb has been relied upon for antispasmodic, nervine, astringent, antiseptic, decongestant, and carminative properties.
- Thyme can potentially act as an expectorant, antitussive, and bronchodilator and is useful for acute or chronic respiratory problems including coughs and bronchitis.
- It can help promote a healthy digestion
Oregano is a wonderful plant for healing, nutrition and flavour! Oil of Oregano is derived from the wild oregano plant (Oreganum vulgare), a member of the mint family (Lamiacae or Labiatae). The name oregano originates from two Greek words: oros (mountain) and ganos (joy).
In numerous clinical trials, oil of oregano has shown great promise in treating many illnesses, including colds, flu, muscle pain, GI problems, respiratory illnesses, skin conditions and urinary tract infections.