As a wellness expert, western herbalist and makeup artist, I’m always looking for ways to help my clients support their bodies using plant based nutrition and beauty products to heal and revitalize their health from the inside out. Focusing on plant based solutions for healing and wellness is especially important as we head into the winter months, the time to really boost our immunity, and find ways to connect to nature from inside our homes and pantry cabinets.
When thinking about ways to prepare for these winter months my focus is on prevention and proactive ways to build up my body’s vitality versus being surprised by being totally run down, lack of time in the sunshine, and exposure to all of the colds and flu around me.
Below are some of my favorite herbs for winter wellness, be sure to stock your fridge and pantry with these before the temperature drops too low. Wishing you a cozy and healthy winter!
Don’t overlook this supremely delicious and all around immunity booster. Garlic (Allium sativum) has antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties that can help relieve the common cold as well as other infections as well as shorten the duration of a cold. I like to cut my garlic up into pieces and let it sit out for 10 minutes so that the allicin (which is believed to boost the vegetable’s antimicrobial powers) can develop and then I mix it with raw honey and swallow it. Garlic tea is great with some lemon, raw honey and cayenne. And don’t forget that guacamole with a lot of raw garlic is an amazing medicine!
Adding shiitake (Lentinula edodes) and reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) to your diet for your immunity is excellent and delicious. These mushrooms work their magic in the form of supplements, tinctures, or in your soups. Curious about how totally amazing mushrooms are? Watch this!
Feed the gut with pre and probiotic (fermented) plants. These are exciting times, when we are finding out so much about the gut and microbiome and how it is really the root of health for immunity, mood, weight management, a focused mind, and the ability to absorb and assimilate the nutrition from the food we are eating. As the weather cools down I make sure to eat a combination of these foods as the foundation for a daily practice of building up my immunity. Prebiotic foods to add into your diet: Leeks, green bananas, garlic, onions, asparagus, jerusalem artichoke. And probiotic foods (you just need a daily condiment sized amount) are kimchi, lacto-fermented pickles, sauerkraut, beet kvass, yogurt, kefir, and rejuvelac.
Elderberry (Sambucus) Syrup is one of the most delicious ingredients in my medicinal herbal pantry. Easy and inexpensive to make this is one remedy that you need to get familiar with. Elderberries have been shown to help avoid illnesses and speed recovery in those who are already sick. They contain vitamins A, B, and C, stimulate the immune system, and have been clinically shown to help with all kinds of colds and flus. You can find elderberry tea on the shelf at the health food store as well as many syrups made by local herbalists. But it couldn’t be easier to make this simple syrup- try it yourself! Recipe below-
Elderberry Syrup Recipe
Take 2 teaspoons daily for prevention or when actively feeling sick, take up to 6 teaspoons per day.
- 1 cup dried elderberries
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup raw local honey
Add a cinnamon stick or dried ginger root to the boiling liquid for a fun variation.
Add the elderberries and water to a pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer for 30 minutes or until the liquid reduces by half. Strain to remove the berries. Let the liquid cool slightly so that it’s hot enough to dissolve the honey, but not so hot that it cooks the raw honey. Transfer the mixture to a glass jar and store in the fridge.
Store the syrup in an amber glass jar to protect the ingredients from the light.
Mix it into water or tea or in a cocktail (if you are feeling fancy!)
Written by: Jessa Blades
Jessa Blades is a wellness expert and herbalist specializing in women’s health. In 2008, she made the switch to natural, non-toxic beauty products and founded her company Blades Natural Beauty—providing simple routines, pure plant-based products, and expert advice to heal and nurture the body from the inside out. With fifteen years experience as a celebrity makeup artist and natural beauty guru, Jessa brings self-care and empowerment to the beauty conversation by teaching people to incorporate natural beauty, herbs and food-based medicine for healing. She splits her time between Brooklyn and Los Angeles. — jessablades.com