We’re closing in on the end of winter and we survived (gratefully) the cold and flu season relatively unscathed here at our homestead. We had a few small illnesses that we were able to treat with our arsenal of herbal home remedies. These remedies would work all year a long, of course, not just winter but need to be made in the spring and summer months when the herbs are fresh. So as the season begins to change be sure to harvest some of those homegrown and wild herbs for some medicine making. All of these are easy and not very time consuming at all to get into your herbal medicine cabinet.
How We Stayed Well During Cold & Flu Season
In the interest of being completely transparent,it’s just the two of us at home and we aren’t exposed much to strangers with colds and other illnesses. We both work a bit outside the home but we don’t get sick very often. We also eat a healthy diet of whole, natural foods and we exercise regularly (we get outside for walks at least 5 days week even on cold days with lots of layers) – I believe diet and exercise help us stay healthy more than anything else truly. That being said there were a few times in which our immune systems needed some support:
This was a new to me remedy last summer but one that will continue to be part of my herbal medicine chest from now on. Honeysuckle has traditionally been used to treat sore throats and we found it to be quite effective. We start taking it at the first tingle of a scratchy throat and keep it up until it passes. Make honeysuckle glycercite when it blooms this spring and be ready for whatever sore throat comes.
Without a doubt, elderberry is my first choice for immunity building. We take elderberry syrup at home and keep some medicine bottles at work full of shelf-stable elderberry tincture to head off colds when we hear co-workers coughing.
We take shot of fire cider every morning to help flush inflammation and build up our immune systems. It’s warming too on the cold Montana mornings. It’s a simple part of our morning routine and one I believe helps us in a multitude of ways.
How We Calmed Digestive Issues
Again, we eat a relatively healthy diet so digestive distress doesn’t happen too often. When it did this past winter, we dealt with it in these ways:
Mint Tea & Mint Infused Honey
Mint has been and continues to be my favorite way to treat an upset stomach. I use dried mint for tea and sweeten it with a touch of mint infused honey. It’s a simple remedy but one that always seems to work without much fuss at all.
Spiced Flax Sprinkle
On those moments, days when we were traveling or eating out in ways we might not normally the spiced flax sprinkle went with us. It’s an easy addition to coffee, tea, morning oatmeal and more. It adds a touch of flavor while also helping to keep the digestive system in working order.
How We Eased Aches & Pains
We shoveled snow, carried wood, and we both started lifting weights to combat the effects of arthritis on our joints all those things combined lead to sore muscles, achy joints, and more. I don’t want to pretend that there was never a time in which we didn’t resort to over-the-counter medication like Ibuprofen, because we for sure did now and then but these herbal remedies were quite useful and effective most of the time:
Birch Leaf Oil
We rubbed birch leaf oil liberally onto sore muscles. I’ve found it to be particularly useful for sore muscles after running and lifting weights. We used it after one of us had taken a fall on the ice too. It’s worth having around and so easy to whip up in the spring and summer.
We’ve used dandelion oil on our arthritic joints for years now and I can’t imagine it’s something we’ll stop doing anytime soon. I find that it helps my toes and fingers quite a bit on those particularly cold and damp days that seem to aggravate the rheumatism.
How We Healed Burns, Cuts, & Splinters
We lead a very active life and we tend to be a little on the clumsy side now and then. These remedies are used by us pretty much all year round but their winter use can not be overstated.
Whenever we get a cut or burn the healing salve gets pulled out rather immediately and slathered on. We use it on everything from blisters to cuts to wind burn and much more. We like it so much we make huge batches and give it as gifts.
Heating our home with wood means chopping and carrying wood, of course. All that working with wood often leads to a small sliver or even a large splinter. We always try to remove them with tweezers but occasionally have trouble with a small piece or particularly small sliver, this drawing salve hasn’t failed us yet. We put some on and within days it seems to pull out impurities and heal the wound as well.
How We Got to Sleep
We don’t struggle much with insomnia but every now and then needed a little help quieting the brain to get rest.
We drank a tea combination of lemon balm and lavender that we found quite soothing and tasty. We had all the herbs in the cabinet from our garden and delighted in having garden fresh flavor even in winter. This is the only remedy in the list that wasn’t homemade but still it’s worth mentioning: we use lavender oil in our diffuser during times of high stress or those nights when sleep seems to be elusive. It makes the house smell good and does seem to help us relax and get the rest we need.
Stocking the Cabinet with Herbal Home Remedies
This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, I’m sure we tried a few different things here and there. Nor do I think these are the correct herbal remedies for everyone in the world. However, they are a good place to start.
If you’re interested in filling your herbal remedy chest, start making remedies this spring and summer for the winter and remaining year. Be sure to to think about the normal problems faced by your family and make the appropriate remedies which may or may not be mentioned in my list.
Herbal remedies are like anything, some work well for us and others don’t -the only way to know is to try. A few final words – as always approach herbal remedies with caution and care – check for allergies, make sure they don’t interfere with medications, are okay for pregnant women, etc. I am not a doctor, this list is based on my own experience and not meant to treat or diagnose anyone. Seek qualified help as necessary from a trained doctor or herbalist.