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Image / Self / Health & Wellness

The herbal remedies to stock up on this winter


By Lauren Heskin
30th Nov 2021

Nataliya Vaitkevich / Pexels

The herbal remedies to stock up on this winter

As Covid and all the other seasonal bugs and colds reenter the community this winter, here are the teas and tinctures to keep your immune system in tip-top shape

It’s been 18 long months since we lived in that “old normal”, where sore throats and nasty coughs abounded, unhampered by masks, hand sanitisers and fears that it might be “something worse”.

However, as we head into yet another pandemic winter and businesses, bars and restaurants teeter on the verge of closing down once again, it’s important to make sure you’re looking after yourself. Not just because of the dreaded Covid, but also the many other viruses, bacteria and bugs that we missed out on during lockdown are now back with a vengeance. 

So what should you be taking in terms of herbal and home remedies to keep your immune system on high alert and reduce any lingering guilt about that “it’s not Covid” cough?

Echinacea

A plant root, echinacea has long been considered an immune-boosting botanical, activating lymph function that aids immune response. It can also help to reduce the intensity and length of colds and winter ailments.

A recent report from the NatPro Centre School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Trinity College Dublin states that there is “a substantial body of evidence to support the utility of Echinacea… in the short-term prevention and management of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections (URTIs)”.

Ideally, it should be taken as a preventative measure in most cases can be found as a tea or tincture, however, A. Vogel offers it in tablet form for quick and easy consumption, especially if you don’t enjoy the flavour.

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Echinaforce® Cold and Flu tablets (€11.99 for 120 tablets)

Ginger

 Known as a natural anti-inflammatory, root ginger is an age-old herbal medicine. It’s great for warming up bodies just in from the cold and is excellent at staving off winter ailments by stimulating circulation, immune response, and anti-bacterial agents.  It really is a superfood.

You can add ginger to your diet by incorporating it into your meals or cooking up a straightforward fresh ginger tea.

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Peppermint

As the Christmas season is known to be one of gorging on rich and heavy foods, your digestion could usually use a little help around now. Peppermint is a great way to get your tummy moving, as it helps to ease contracted muscles in your digestive system and prevent any muscle spasming that can result in trapped air and other uncomfortable things. 

It may also help you fight infection and one study found it helped with food poisoning bacteria like E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella. it can be taken as an oil or as a tea, Irish tea company Intelligent Tea has a 100% Peppermint tea that’s perfect for the job.

Intelligent tea Peppermint tea, €7.50

Apple Cider Vinegar

Another digestive helper, apple cider vinegar has long been known to have multiple health benefits. As well as keeping things moving, it also helps to lower cholesterol, kill pathogens and lower blood sugar levels. It’s packed full of vitamins and minerals too, so it’s basically a natural multivitamin. 

You can take it by drinking it or mixing it in with a salad dressing as you would any other vinegar. And while it’s available through many brands, most dieticians would recommend it in small doses (no more than two tablespoons a day) and to look for an organic, raw apple cider vinegar that includes “the mother” like Braggs.

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Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with The Mother 473ml, €7.99

Vitamin D

Did you know that the Irish government recommends everyone in Ireland take vitamin D supplements during the winter months? Known as the sunshine vitamin, we can create it ourselves on exposure to the sun, but the Irish climate isn’t known for its warm weather, especially in the depths of winter. Vitamin D is important because your body needs it to absorb calcium, which in turn keeps bones and muscles healthy.

Recent studies have also shown that vitamin D might protect against severe COVID-19 disease and death by boosting your immuno-response. A minimum of 10mg per day is recommended for adults from October to February and if you’ve spent a run of days indoors, as many of us have over this pandemic, you can also double up the dose every once in a while, but no more than 100mg per day.