Winter Herbal Companions Part 1

This is the first in a series of blog posts where I’ll be sharing about herbs that can be helpful to use in the winter months.

Safety Note: Please remember that each individual person has different wellness needs and responds to herbs in unique and varying ways. Always do your homework and research herbs for yourself, including the contraindications of herbs with pharmaceutical medications or medical conditions, and check with your healthcare practitioner before taking any new medicine, herbal or otherwise.

The Northeast is getting a taste of Winter at last, and at our house soup is simmering on the stove and cups of herbal tea warm us throughout the day. As someone who is waking up to the wonders of herbs a little more each day, I look for ways to bring them into my life each season.

With Winter comes the desire to keep well, to strengthen our immune systems, to aid digestion, to encourage calm and grounding, and to get a good night’s sleep. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share about herbs I am working with as well as why and how I’m using them.

The first herb I’ll introduce is Tulsi. It’s an Indian, Ayurvedic herb in the basil family that grows year-round in warm climates and as an annual in cooler climates. Its minty, floral, herbal aroma and taste has a warming, energizing quality to it.

Why I use it:

  1. Tulsi is beneficial for and supports the respiratory system. It helps keep airways clear and decreases Kapha congestion. If one has a cough or cold, it suppresses coughing (it’s antitussive).
  2. Tulsi strengthens and supports the immune system. In Ayurveda we say that it builds ojas (strength, immune system) and prana (vitality). Read more here.
  3. Tulsi soothes the digestive tract, particularly the colon/large intestine. If you ever have Vata-type issues with your digestion like gas, Tulsi will ease this problem (it’s carminative).
  4. Tulsi is beneficial for moods: helping us cope with stress and feel less depressed or anxious.

How I use it:

  • I drink Tulsi tea. Right after we got our boosters in December, Alan and I drank Tulsi for several days straight. An easy way to make it is in a French press, but you could use a tea strainer as well.
  • I diffuse Tulsi essential oil in this aromatherapy blend.
  • I rub this Immune Boost Balm I made with Tulsi essential oil on my lymph nodes on my neck and under my arms ( as I did after my vaccines and booster) as well as whenever I’m feeling like I need some immune system support. I also will rub the balm on the bottoms of my feet.
  • I also use this massage oil with Tulsi essential oil after a shower when I need a boost.

Want to read more about Tulsi? Check out herbalist Rosalee de la Foret’s article here.

What herbs would you like to learn more about in this space? Let me know in the comments below!

Contraindications: Tulsi is not recommended for those who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or those who are nursing. Also not recommended for those with low blood sugar. Always check with your healthcare practitioner before using any supplement or essential oil.

Health Disclaimer: Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits of any herbs I mention in this blog post are my own opinions and have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition. Please see your health care professional if you need medical treatment of any kind.)

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