Herbs for the Winter Blues

Winter greetings.

It’s about this time of the cold and wet season that many people experience a bit of the winter blues. I think it is not only natural but necessary for our energy levels to slow down during this time, to allow for some restoration and reflection. The trick is not to feel guilty about not doing much, allow and enjoy rest wherever your modern life allows

There are other biochemical reasons for feeling a little low at this time of the year. Lack of vitamin D is common due to reduced sunlight and its important to ensure you are getting it in your diet by including unrefined saturated and monounsaturated fats, including butter, lard, meat fats, coconut oil, olive oil or cod liver oil.

Other nutrients that are essential to our mental health are the B group vitamins, zinc and magnesium.

St Johns Wort for the winter blues

St Johns wort

One of the most researched herbs for the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is St Johns wort (Hypericium perforatum). It is a great nervous system herb, with a mild anti-depressant activity, alleviates anxiety, neuralgia and helps repair nerve damage after injury. It is also strongly anti-viral against viruses such as chicken pox, shingles, cold sores and glandular fever. Externally it is used as an antiseptic, for relieving pain and healing. Do not take if on blood thinning medication such as Warfarin, or during pregnancy.

If you are taking other pharmaceutical medication please check before taking. And caution is advised during prolonged periods of sun (no worries at the moment!) as it can cause photosensitivity.

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) grows like a weed at my place, making it a regular tea in our house. It has a subtle calming but uplifting effect which can be enjoyed by all with a lovely lemony taste.  It is best made from the fresh herb but it can be dried with as little handling as possible. Be generous when collecting for the tea pot, a couple of handfuls of leaf, and remember to cover the pot while brewing to keep in the volatile oils that are going to provide a feel good effect. This is also a herb that is anti-viral, so handy for this time of the year!

Other herbs that are used traditionally for mood lifting, include Linden flowers (Tilia spp.),  Vervain (Verbena officinalis), Kawa Kawa, Lavender flowers and Rose petals.

I also think Oat straw tea is a mainstay for nervous system health, providing a great range of minerals for our nerve health.

Cleansing 

It is also important to make sure you body is eliminating toxins efficiently, if not you can certainly end up feeling sluggish. A great backyard basic for this is Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)  using the leaves for a tea, salads and cooking, and the root in vinegars, soups and broths or roasted for a coffee substitute. Stinging nettle is also a good cleansing tonic.

Don’t forget how good some fresh air and exercise can make you feel, so get your woolies on, and go for a winter appreciation walk!


Be well and happy, naturally,  Ali

lemon balm calming and uplifting

Lemon balm – calming and uplifting

 

About Ali Sutherland

I've been passionate about herbal healing for over 20 years, alongside a career in pharmacy. I love all things of the earth - natural living, good health and the good life. My desire is to encourage people to take responsibility for their own health and regain a trust in the power of plants as medicine.