Expert Herbalist Secrets for Winter Health

A combination of rest, exercise, good nutrition, and herbs add up to a healthy lifestyle.


| November/December 1997



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Winter can create an enchanting, snowy wonderland. Yet as the weather changes, your body may experience changes too, resulting in reduced energy and immunity, weight loss or gain, and dry skin. Emotionally, you may experience irritability and depression.

How can you feel your best during the chilliest days of the year? We asked some prominent herbalists and alternative health practitioners how they do it. Each of them emphasizes prevention through a healthy life­style, which involves a variety of practices. While herbs are integral to their self-care, the experts we spoke with tend to use herbs sparingly—mostly for prevention and for treating the occasional illness. In their stories, you’ll find useful tips that will help you keep warm and in prime health this winter.

Name: Daniel Gagnon
Occupation: Medical herbalist;
president of Herbs, Etc.
Age: 43
Home: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Climate: “Santa Fe is 7,000 feet high—our winter is what I call mild, but we do get snow, some slush, and lots of sun.”
Hot tip: Cook with medicinal mushrooms for multiple health benefits.

Honor the body’s signals

Daniel Gagnon, medical herbalist and president of Herbs, Etc., says little things applied on a daily basis make the difference. “If I run around like a chicken without a head, that’s when I get hit,” Gagnon says. “One thing I have found over the years is that I tend to sleep more in winter, and I honor that. In the wintertime things are a little slower and that’s okay.”

Gagnon believes that a combination of rest, exercise, good nutrition, and herbs keeps him healthy. He walks briskly for thirty minutes a day, five times a week because it’s “relaxing invigorating, and oxygenating.” Also, because he struggles with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or depression that recurs as the days grow shorter during the fall and winter, his walks give him regular contact with the sun.

Medicinal mushrooms and herbal supplements also play a role in Gagnon’s self-care regimen.





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