If you’re living in the Midwest like me, you know that winter is only a few months away (yes I’m sorry for the reminder for those of you who hate winter!). It’s good to be prepared in advance for the kinds of issues that we tend to face when the seasons turn toward cold. So without further ado, here are some of the things I recommend you have on hand. And as always, this is educational and not meant to be interpreted as medical advice.
Also, no one is paying me for any of the products I suggest here. I’m suggesting them because of my first-hand experience with them.
Vitamin D3 + k2
Even in the summer months most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D3. Many years ago I had no energy, didn’t want to get out bed, felt depressed and it was the middle of summer. A quick blood test showed that I was severely deficient in Vitamin D, and with supplementation I was able to fix this issue.
Our bodies don’t naturally make this vitamin, but it’s really very necessary for our overall health. Vitamin D3 supports healthy immune function, can help modulate inflammation, and it’s necessary for calcium absorption. If you work with me you know I’m a big fan of getting our nutrients through food, so I don’t really believe in taking calcium supplements. There’s evidence that calcium supplements can have a negative effect on our health that foods rich in calcium don’t present.You may think I’m digressing, but I promise I’ll get to the point here.
Vitamin D makes the calcium-binding protein that’s needed for our bodies to absorb calcium. Vitamin K2 is needed to signal the absorption in our bodies. We absorb about 25% of the calcium we ingest. So taking a Vitamin D3 + K2 supplement promotes better absorption. Thorn makes a really great Vitamin D3 + K2 supplement. Otherwise, some other brands I stand by for quality Vitamin D3 are Pure Encapsulations and Integrative Therapeutics.
Traditional Medicinals Gypsy Cold Care Tea
Yeah, I could talk to you about individual herbs, but I know that most people would prefer to just go out and buy a tea. I am a big fan of the Traditional Medicinals Gypsy Cold Care tea for when a cold sets in. It’s got a disclaimer and you really should always do your due diligence before ingesting any herbs, but what I like about this blend is that the main ingredient is elder flower. If you’re involved in the herbal community at all or prefer natural medicine, you’ve probably heard a lot about elderberry. Elderberry can be super helpful in recovering from a viral infection so if you’ve got the berries or a syrup on hand, super.
But I like the elder flower because it also contains mucilage, which is very soothing to the mucus membranes. A lot of times our colds present because our mucus membranes dry out, making it easier for pathogens to get in. Elder flower helps to correct this imbalance, providing moisture and also some relief to that dryness. It can also induce sweating in the case of fevers, which is helpful for cooling the body.
Celestial Seasonings Sleepy Time Tea
This tea contains chamomile, spearmint, lemongrass, blackberry leaf, orange blossoms, rosebuds, hawthorn buds, and linden flowers. It’s a very cooling blend of herbs with the blackberry leaf, rosebuds, lemongrass and hawthorn. The chamomile is slightly warming and aromatic. The linden flowers are soothing and mucilaginous. When I had covid, this was my go-to tea. I drank it all day, and it was incredibly helpful. When my husband had problems with a lingering spasmodic cough post-covid, I made him straight Linden tea every day for a while and it was incredibly helpful in his healing journey.
When you’re achy, tired, and in pain from coughing this tea is very soothing and helpful in supporting your rest and recovery.
Juicing up some ginger and freezing it in ice cube trays saves a lot of time when you need something spicy and aromatic later to help you get congestion moving. You can drop an ice cube in some hot water and immediately have ginger tea. It’s a first rate remedy for colds, coughs, and flus.
Gatorade or Peach Cubes
While we’re on the topic of things you can freeze to use later, gatorade cubes are a must in my book for when you’ve got a stomach bug and can’t keep anything down, not even water. Typically you’re going to be sorely in need of electrolytes. Gatorade cubes are basically electrolyte ice chips to help support your body as you heal. Peach leaf is also really great for these issues because it will cool down a hot stomach and help relieve the nausea. I almost never have access to fresh peach leaf, but you could juice some peaches and freeze the juice for a similar effect. It’s probably better for you than gatorade, because peaches contain all kinds of goodness. However, we use what we have available.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
I like these little essential oil inhalers from Mountain Rose Herbs. I also like Mountain Rose Herbs because they’re committed to sustainability. Anyway, Eucalyptus essential oil. Using an aromatherapy inhaler with this essential oil is super helpful for when you are ill with a virus or bacteria. Essential oils will literally eat through the membrane of the bacteria/virus. So if it’s existing in your sinuses or respiratory system, eucalyptus essential oil is your friend. You can also take a tea of any aromatic herb and it will have antibacterial effects on the lungs as well. Thyme and/or rosemary tea is really good for this.
Homemade Vapor Rub
I can’t take credit for this recipe, but I’ve made it and it works. I like to put this salve rub on my feet and then cover them in super fuzzy warm socks when I’m sick. It’s incredibly helpful and soothing.
Yogi Throat Comfort Tea or a Propolis Spray
If you’ve got a sore throat, I’m partial to the Yogi “Throat Comfort” tea. It’s warming and soothing, and it contains Licorice, Wild Cherry Bark, Slippery Elm Bark, and Mullein, among other herbs. Yogi tends to use a lot of the same herbs (in my opinion) which give their teas a similar taste. Be mindful about how much you use a tea like this. Too much licorice can potentially cause issues. Wild Cherry Bark can as well. Another option to soothe a sore throat is the Propolis Spray. Propolis is bee-harvested resin that’s carefully collected from the hive and it is a powerful immune system ally.
So Zicam tablets that you let dissolve in your mouth have been helpful to me, from experience. This is a cold remedy you can get over the counter and my mom swore by it, and I’ve used it for many years when needed as well. It’s a homeopathic remedy and the main ingredient is zinc. We have never used to the nasal spray. We only use the rapid melt tablets, and it does really seem to help shorten the length of the cold and provide some symptom relief. You’re supposed to take it at the first sign of a cold.
These are a staple to have on hand especially for the winter months. They are nutrient dense, soothing, warming, and nourishing to the body.
This is by no means an exhaustive list for your medicine cabinet (and freezer, in some cases). Some of the best things you can do to support your body is to get quality and adequate sleep, eat a nutrient dense diet, exercise, and wash your hands. Use aromatic plants (cinnamon, rosemary, anise, nutmeg, thyme, etc) in your cooking. Do things that make you happy, connect with others for positive social and relationship experiences. That’s really the basics.
Do you have any favorite wintertime remedies? Anything you feel should be added to the list?
Jessica Jascha is a Clinical Herbalist, Intuitive Consultant and writer in Minnesota. She also writes for Witch Way Magazine. She owns Jascha Botanicals and Owl in the Oak Tarot where she gives readings, teaches ritual, and provides holistic consultations. You can find her on Facebook.
The information provided in this digital content is not medical advice, nor should it be taken or applied as a replacement for medical advice. Jessica Jascha, the Jascha Botanicals, and their employees, guests, and affiliates assume no liability for the application of the information discussed.