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Curb Winter Illness with these Herbs

| 11/22/2011 11:37:44 AM

H.CardenasHeidi Cardenas is a freelance writer and gardener in Lake County, Illinois, with a background in human resources and business administration. She has written about home and garden topics for various online venues, helps you get your green on at HC Greenery and enjoys The Herb Companion’s valuable resources.

Step outside and take a deep breath. Tilt your head back and sniff the air. Smell that? Winter! It’s on the way. The squirrels are venturing out only in the mid-day sun. The skunks aren’t running around all night foraging and stinking up the neighborhood. They are spending more time in their winter dens already, out of the stinging wind and frosty midnights. 

Fresh cold air is invigorating at first, but over the course of several months it can become a source of stress, and it can be dangerous, even life-threatening. As we transition from autumn to winter with colder temperatures and less sunlight, environmental stressors can affect us, lowering immunity and leaving us vulnerable to bacteria and infection. Strengthen your immune system now with herbs for improved vitality and protection from stress and illness.

11-22-2011-astragalus membranaceus
Astragalus membranaceous is a medicinal tonic with restorative properties.
Photo by
Doronenko/Courtesy Wikimedia Commons  

Astragalus, commonly called milk vetch, is a potent medicinal plant with tonic and restorative properties. It has been used since ancient times to improve immunity and regenerate tissue. It inhibits cancer, enhances digestion, protects the heart and liver and is antiviral. It has demonstrated cold prevention properties. Sliced astragalus roots added to chicken, beef or seafood broth, steeped, then strained, make a strong tonic soup. Fresh slices of astragalus root fried with honey or chewed raw are easy, healthy snacks that taste like sweet licorice. Astragalus supplements, tinctures or fresh or dried root are a smart addition to a pre-winter immune-boosting plan.

11-22-2011-st johns wort flowers
Hypericum perforatum serves as a natural mood enhancer.
Photo by
Fir0002/Courtesy Wikimedia Commons  

St. John’s wort has strong antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties in addition to its well-known antidepressant properties. This makes it an ideal herb for the fall and winter, to prevent illness and combat the winter blues, or to treat seasonal affective disorder. When St. John’s wort supplements and tinctures are taken regularly, they serve as a natural mood-enhancer and antidepressant, as well as strengthening the immune system to protect against the influenza viruses and bacterial infections common during the cold winter months.

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