Winter health naturally
If you live in a cold climate, staying healthy in the winter is often a challenge, what with freezing temperatures outside, dry heat inside, people crowded into closed spaces, and viruses and bacteria lying in wait everywhere.
Natural health is based on being tuned in to your own needs and supplying them, whenever possible, before a germ takes hold. Many foods and herbs seem to have been designed specifically to support our immune systems and to help us stay healthy. Here are a few suggestions. Although it would be impossible to offer anything near a complete suggestion list here, these are a good start and most of the items are readily available.
WARNING: If you have an auto-immune disease or an immunity deficiency, double-check with your health practitioner before starting on any herbal regimen. Sometimes, in those circumstances, immune-enhancing regimens are counter-indicated.
Help keep blood healthy by nourishing it. Disperse congestion, especially in the chest. Aid circulation.
Don't like beets? Ha! Wait until you try this delicious sweet beet relish recipe.
Great sweet beet relish
Scrub 4 or 5 beets and boil, covered, until fork- tender.
In the meantime, thin-slice a small onion, and place in a large bowl, along with a small can of unsweetened drained crushed pineapple, two tablespoons brown sugar, a sprinkle of powdered cinnamon,
and some chopped fresh oregano, thyme, basil leaves
Strain beets when ready, and remove skin with your fingers, under cold running water, because it's hot.
Slice beets, thinly. Or Julienne, if you're fancy.
Add to bowl with onions and pineapple.
Drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil over the salad, and mix gently.
Taste and add more of whatever makes you happy. Measurements are not an issue here.
I always add fresh chopped garlic and a sprinkle of cayenne powder just before serving.
Sometimes I add chick peas (garbanzo beans).
Sometimes chopped walnuts, or pine nuts.
For non-vegetarians, try some shrimp.
Help prevent stagnation in blood flow. Is one of the herbs of choice in dealing with colds, headaches, constipation, nasal congestion, swelling, bruises, coughs. Add to chopped tomatoes and parsley, add a little olive oil and lemon juice. Eat as is, or add cucumbers, basil, shredded carrots. Add olives, raisins, avocado slices. Add a dollop of yogurt or low-fat sour cream.
Easy healthy onion broth soup
Wilt two sliced onions, a sliced raw beet, and a sliced carrot in a little olive oil until golden and limp. Add a handful of chopped parsley, a diced garlic clove or two or six, and 8 cups of water or chicken broth. Simmer covered for 45 minutes to an hour. Add sea salt to taste, if desired. Delicious soup! As good for the body as it is for the taste buds.
Add cayenne. Add grated cheese. Add chopped tomatoes.
or scramble some egg white into it.
Sprinkle some dried nettle or alfalfa or sprouts in for added nourishment.
Helps immune system. Works as anti-microbial against infection and as anti-fungal. Fights flu germs even better than the onion! Works best when eaten raw, so be ready to chew on some cinnamon bark or down some parsley leaves afterward in courtesy to those breathing the same air as you. Even thought to be effective against some forms of cancers.
Apple cider vinegar
Improves digestion. Balances body's acid/alkaline equilibrium. Believed effective against combating bacteria in digestive tract. Reduces swelling and inflammation from bruises. Eases itching from bites, chicken pox, sunburn.
Might aid against obesity, toxemia, cell destruction, osteoporosis. Widely used in Chinese health-care to stimulate the immune system, retard aging, alleviate stress (making it an adaptogenic...helps the body to adapt to stress, physical and emotional), excrete cholesterol. Buy it dried in a cellophane package and reconstitute with boiling water. Then squeeze out, chop and sauté. If you are a vegetarian, chop it up and use in a spaghetti sauce instead of beef. I think it's better. Meaty. Flavorful. And it is said to promote longevity!
Soothes inner membranes. Protects throat tissues. Is anti-bacterial. AND tastes delicious!
Stimulates circulation of blood. Prevents stagnation in blood that adds to pains of arthritis and gout, especially during winter months. Adds an extra dose of Vitamin C to your diet. For cold feet due to poor circulation, some find it effective to mix a LITTLE cayenne with powder to put inside socks. Add it to a hot footbath at the end of a day spent out in the cold or to bring headache pain down and out of body. Also helps fight flu germs and germ-carrying mucus when a few grains are added to a little water for a gargle...keeps infected mucus from settling in the throat.
Medicinally, must be used raw, dried, powdered...internal and external. Such a powerful astringent, it stops bleeding!
Flu-fighting anti-allergy energy tonic recipe
1 teaspoon each apple cider vinegar and honey in 1/2 cup warm water
with a few grains of raw, powdered cayenne (to your taste)
and 5 drops of nettle tincture.
Sip slowly, with feet up, eyes closed, good music.
Similar to cayenne, but somewhat more gentle. Good in bath to ease aching joints. Good in tea to ease aching joints. Good in any form to eliminate nausea, even after it has started, in motion sickness, stomach upsets, pregnancy (check with medical practitioner, if pregnant).
In capsule or tincture form. Highly effective in boosting immune system to fight virus and bacteria of flu-like winter diseases as well as allergies. Good as preventative during winter season, but also very effective in combating flu symptoms after sickness has hit. Also in tea. Try a little. Some digestive systems aren't happy with it in a tea. Might take a little getting used to.
Most herbalists cannot say enough about echinacea and are concerned that its present popularity will put it on the endangered list. Used extensively by Native Americans. Grow some in your yard for a natural prairie look and safeguard its health and as it safeguards ours.
Effective anti-bacterial for use against winter flu, in conjunction with echinacea. Take for one week only. So powerful, it can destroy good bacteria as well. But it is among the top ten in germ-fighting herbs.
Nettle & Alfalfa
High source of protein and minerals to keep immune system efficient during winter months. Come in capsule, tincture, or teas. They seem designed to keep liver and kidneys working effectively to keep blood healthy. Remember, healthy blood aids in more effective immune system, less arthritic pain, fewer skin problems, reduced allergy symptoms. Nettle is often an excellent herb choice for reducing allergy symptoms.
Chai from India
As long as you do not suffer from excessive body heat (too much yang energy), this is a wonderful warmer-upper in the winter. It is usually made with black tea, but any tea or herb tea or just boiled water will do, if you are avoiding caffeine.
To make one pint, place 2 cups of water in a stainless steel, glass, or enamel sauce pan. The spices and herbs can be adjusted to taste, but a basic recipe would include a cinnamon stick, 4 or 5 cloves, about a dozen cardamom seeds, and some orange peel. Put a lid on the pot and simmer for 10 or 15 minutes. Traditionally, a little milk is added then, and the brew is simmered for another 5 minutes or so. Add honey and enjoy. Because these pungent spices are good for digestion and circulation, it not only warms the system, but helps flatulence, poor digestion, poor appetite, and just the blues, in general. Good with jazz music, I think. If you're not a purist, consider adding other tidbits. I love candied ginger added to tea, but then, I love candied ginger any way, any place, any time.
NOTE: Reminder: Be aware that allergic reactions are possible to any food or herb. Try anything new in small doses, and watch for reactions.
How to dress for winter running
1. This may not sound enticing, but cool or cold showers, or cool rinse-off at end of showers, has proven highly effective in promoting better immunity to diseases by helping the body's internal thermostat adjust to external temperature changes. It is especially important to allow the cool water to hit the back of the neck. This has also helped in reducing migraines.
2. Daily outdoor activity in appropriately warm clothes, with head, throat, and feet well-protected. (Mother was right, after all!)
3. Chinese medicine suggests that making sure the kidneys are warm enough, by wearing sweaters that cover area, is also very important to prevent winter bladder infections in those who are susceptible.
4. Make noise! Laugh out loud! Sing! Keep your energy flowing.