There are many different ways that we can utilize the herbs growing on and around our homesteads to boost our immune systems and help us to stay healthy all winter long. Here is my list of seven tried and true techniques to incorporate herbs into our winter wellness routines.
Brewing teas from herbs is my go-to method for supporting wellness in the winter time. There are many wonderful herbs to choose from. We have an opportunity to explore the flavors, as well as the benefits, of a multitude of our local plants.
Echinacea and elderberry are both anti-viral herbs and excellent choices for boosting our immune system. Stinging nettles, Urtica dioica, is packed full of nourishing minerals that our bodies need to maintain a healthy balance.
And don’t forget about pine needles! These are high in vitamin C and can be brewed into a flavorful and resinous herbal tea.
Ginger and turmeric are both wonderful herbs that we can use to stay healthy in the winter as well. These two rhizomes are closely related and are powerful anti-inflammatories that add a powerful flavor to our brews. Ginger is particularly useful to help with digestive upset and stomach aches.
When it comes to health and wellness, garlic is a powerhouse ingredient that can be included in many of our medicinal formulations. One of the many reasons garlic is considered so beneficial is due to its high zinc content.
Zinc is critical to helping our bodies battle the common cold. Garlic is exactly what we need to help our bodies combat this illness.
Fire cider is an interesting concoction (great for winter wellness) crafted with many of the herbs that we already covered, including garlic, turmeric and ginger. It is also commonly made with cayenne peppers, thyme, rosemary, black peppercorns and citrus fruits.
Infuse all of the botanicals in apple cider vinegar, creating a potent and strongly-flavored medicine. You can learn how to craft your own fire cider in my YouTube video here.
The most well-known herbal syrup is crafted with elderberries. But we can certainly use other herbs to create healthy medicinal syrups, such as horehound.
Horehound is an herb that we can use to help ease a dry cough, and the syrup is very easy to make! Simply steep your herbs in water just like you would to make a strong tea. Strain the herbs out, then add sugar to the water.
Slowly heat the mixture until it starts to thicken and develop a syrupy texture. It’s just that easy! You can substitute the sugar for honey, agave nectar or any sweetener of your choice.
It’s easy to make a topical rub very similar to the commercial “vapor rub” product that we all know. Use herbs such as peppermint, thyme or eucalyptus to make a soothing chest rub to ease winter cold and flu symptoms and maintain wellness.
Learn all about crafting herbal salves in the Hobby Farm video available here.
Vitamin C & D
The easiest way to stay healthy around the homestead is to simply increase our intact of Vitamins C and D. This can be as easy as adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to our diet.
We can also use more herbs known to contain notable amounts of Vitamin C, such as pine needles, rose hips, thyme and orange peels. Add these herbs to your herbal teas or into your culinary creations to reap their benefits.
Mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D. Try adding shiitake, portabella or any other type of mushroom to your meals for an easy way to add more Vitamin D to your diet.
And of course, sunshine is the best way to get more vitamin D! Just spending more time outside will help boost our immune systems and keep us healthy!
The more exercise and fresh air you can give your body, the healthier you will be. Homesteaders and hobby farmers are already very active people that spend quite a bit of time outdoors. But if you can find a way to add even more exercise to your routine, the better off you’ll be.
Even if that means just a short 20-minute walk around the property, your body will thank you for the extra activity and vitamin D!