Herbs for Winter Health
In the chilly winter months, we are all more susceptible to colds and flu. Because they are caused by viruses there is little your doctor can prescribe except treatments for the symptoms. There are some plants in your garden that might also be of help in reducing the effect of the infection.
Garden Herbs in General
Fresh herbs contain high levels of vitamins and minerals and provide fresh flavours for any dish. When you are suffering from a cold or flu your sense of taste is likely to be adversely affected, and the fresh herbs may be beneficial in making your food tastier and more palatable. Eating well will keep up your energy levels and help your immune system fight the infection.
Chamomile is mildly sedative and will help a cold or flu sufferer rest and recuperate.
The capsaicin in chillies give them their heat. It stimulates the body to sweat and react as if they were hot, not just in the flavour sense, but in the temperature sense too. The stimulation of the metabolism may help the body get rid of toxins.
Garlic is claimed to have anti-infection properties, although it is not clear whether these are due to some direct effect on the immune system or due to encouraging other people to keep their distance. Garlic does contain vitamins, minerals and other compounds that may have some effects if you are lacking in them, and it is claimed to help reduce nasal and lung congestion.
Ginger has long been associated with helping digestion and having a calming effect on stomach upsets. It certainly has a warming effect in hot drinks with some lemon and honey.
Horseradish has a pungent smell that can clear sinuses quickly. The essential oil it produces is very similar to that in mustard. Fresh horseradish will have the highest levels of this oil. Bottled horseradish sauce is often less pungent, but it may still be delicious on your steak if you are feeling up to such a meal in your unwell state.
Lemon balm has soothing properties. Herbalists claim it has anti-viral properties and is good for calming a rumbling stomach and relieving headaches.
Oregano may have antiseptic properties and benefit those with colds or flu by soothing coughs and sore throats.
Fresh peppermint releases smells that have a cooling effect on mucous membranes. Its freshness might, at least, make you feel less grotty.
Thyme produces an essential oil called thymol which is often used in herbal remedies for coughs and colds. It is said to relieve congestion and have antiseptic properties.