Sunday, January 10, 2010
Caring for Winter Colds & Flu Naturally...
So far this season we've been fortunate to have avoided major cold or flu outbreaks in this house. Since the fall we've been taking daily doses of herbal tinctures like echinacea and rosehip to build our immune system, as well as multivitamins and acidophilus (to maintain healthy intestinal bacteria). We eat a diet that is strongly influenced by macrobiotic principles, using whole grains like brown rice, millet and quinoa, tempeh, steamed seasonal vegetables, lots of kale and brassicas, sprouted and fermented foods, pro-biotic yogurt, winter squash, hearty stews, apples or other fruit which we've dried or frozen from the summer months. We try to limit processed foods and refined sugars in our diet as these weaken the body's system, and limit other dairy products which often lead to congestion - difficult to avoid during the holiday season laden with rich festive foods, it's no wonder so many of us come down with colds and other illnesses post-Christmas! Whenever we have a first onset of cold or flu symptoms we brew up strong infusions of ginger-lemon-cayenne tea or miso-garlic soup, and this generally seems to do the trick.
This week our kitchen became a natural health laboratory as I worked at concocting a variety of items to have on hand over the winter months. A new batch of raw cabbage sauerkraut, a super food we should all be consuming every day as it's an excellent source of vitamin C, lactobacilli, and other nutrients that help aid digestion and maintain overall health, and is well known as an immune booster that helps fight colds and other infections. (For anyone looking to learn more about the vast health benefits and how-to of creating fermented foods at home, consider attending our Fermented Foods workshop in April.)
Other herbal remedies completed this week include Astragalus root tincture which is renowed for building the immune system and building bronchial strength (finally ready to strain and bottle this week, after steeping for 12 weeks since October); bath therapy salts that use pure epsom salts, sea salts and essential oils to help with congestion, aches and chills; sage cough syrup made with local honey and garden sage; and a strong herbal "winter flu fighter" blend that incorporate a selection of flu fighting herbs harvested and dried from our garden this summer (including purple and green sage, thyme, rosemary, horehound, fennel, hops and more).
Some of these new winter herbal products will also be listed on our etsy store later this week.