Herbs to Beat the Winter Chills

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Herbs to strengthen the immune system

Take a 2-3 week course of Echinacea or Astragalus tincture to boost your immune system. Extra Vitamin C and zinc may also be of benefit (do not take zinc supplements for longer than 2 weeks without the advice of a qualified practitioner). Dietary sources of zinc include seeds (especially pumpkin), cheddar cheese, beef, wholemeal bread and shellfish. A diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables should ensure an adequate intake of Vitamin C. If you are elderly or suffer from chronic respiratory problems it is probably a good idea to ask your GP for a flu jab.


Colds and Flu

At the first sign of the sniffles make a tea with equal parts of yarrow, peppermint and elderflowers. Add a dash of Tabasco or a little grated ginger root (or powder) to stimulate the circulation. Sweeten with honey if you like. The ‘diaphoretic’ effect of this hot infusion will cause you to perspire. During infections the body tries to rid itself of the invading organism by raising your temperature – most bugs do not survive at much above normal body temperature. Wrap up warm and drink lots of water and you should start to feel better quite soon.


If you have the heavy aching feeling that often accompanies flu, take some Boneset tincture. An Epsom salts bath with a few drops of warming essential oils such as juniper and ginger will also help. Or you can try an old-fashioned mustard bath!




Astringent herbs such as Goldenseal, Elderflower and Eyebright will help to reduce mucus secretion, and the addition of a little Capsicum will improve the circulation. Echinacea will ensure that possible infection is dealt with, and Plantain will strengthen the lining of the nasal passages and sinuses. Steam inhalations of Eucalyptus or Ravensara may also help. Put a few drops of the essential oil into a bowl of boiling water. Lean over the bowl, covering your head with a towel, and inhale the steam. A chest rub containing these essential oils will help at night, or keep an oil vaporiser next to your bed. Other useful decongestant essential oils include juniper and rosemary.



Soothe any irritation with marshmallow tea or syrup, or warm honey and lemon juice. Wild cherry or Elecampane syrup is recommended for an unproductive cough. Herbs such as coltsfoot, hyssop and white horehound will bring relief to a ‘hard’ cough. The chronic cough of bronchitis will respond to Iceland moss and Lobelia (the latter is only available from qualified practitioners). Thyme and liquorice syrup is a good general cough remedy. The thyme ‘disinfects’ the lungs. As with any infection, a short course of Echinacea is recommended.


Sore throat

Gargle with a hot infusion of sage and honey.



Gently drop some warmed mullein or diluted garlic oil into your ear. If earache is severe or persists for more than 3 days, you should see your GP.



Coldsores are caused by the herpes virus which lies dormant in your body until it is able to take advantage of a depressed immune system. Coldsores therefore tend to erupt when you are already feeling under-the-weather. Dab them with an anti-viral tincture such as Melissa or Hypericum (St.John’s Wort). Neat whisky or vodka is also quite effective.



Boost the circulation to your feet with ginger. Traditional ‘cures’ include bathing the feet in water that has been used to boil potatoes, and rubbing the affected area with a slice of raw onion or some cider vinegar. Keep your feet dry and warm at all times. Woollen or cotton socks are better for your feet than nylon socks or tights.


Cracked heels

Gently remove any thickened skin with a pumice stone. Bathing can be very dehydrating, so make sure you always moisturise your feet afterwards. Good hygiene is important in order to avoid the cracks becoming infected. Hempseed oil and marigold cream are useful treatments, and comfrey cream will encourage rapid healing. Ensure there is no infection – comfrey cream is so effective at healing the skin that it can actually seal in infection. A mixture of rosewater and vegetable glycerin will keep the feet soft.



Good detox herbs include dandelion leaf and root, burdock root and milk thistle. Feelings of nausea will respond to chamomile tea or ginger. Fennel tea will help to reduce wind. If you are going to be drinking alcohol, make sure you alternate it with glasses of water. Most hangovers are caused by dehydration.


Safety Notice

The advice given above is not intended to take the place of diagnosis and treatment by a qualified herbal practitioner or your GP. If symptoms persist without any improvement for more than a few days, or if you start to feel worse, you should seek medical advice.



 Imuno-Strength® Elderberry, Rosehip and Blackcurrant Concentrate 500mls

Elderberry, rosehip and blackcurrants are all exceptionally rich sources of important compounds called flavonoids, including anthocyanidins that are known potent antioxidants.

Indeed to truly maximise antioxidant defences, plant-derived antioxidants should be incorporated into patients’ regimes. The flavonoid family found in these three fruits is uniquely positioned for such a task, since they are physiologically active in both lipid and aqueous environments in the body, which makes its overall antioxidant properties many times that of vitamin C or vitamin E. Moreover, thousands of studies spanning decades of research consistently and repeatedly show that maintaining a high antioxidant defence system lowers a person’s risk of disease as well as stimulating the immune system.

Imuno-Strength® is a tasty natural blend of elderberry, rosehip and blackcurrant concentrates carefully formulated to retain the nutritive properties of the fruits. Recommend to those 5 years and upwards whose immune system is under pressure and requires a boost.

£14.95 for approx 50 days supply


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Contact: [email protected] Please complete the 'Subject' heading or your email will be assumed to be spam and automatically deleted. Before you contact me, I'd be grateful if you would please check to see if this website has the answer to your question (search box at the top of the homepage) - I have time to answer only a few of the many emails that arrive in my inbox every day. See also the statement below:

For your safety I am prohibited from giving specific medical advice to individuals over the internet or telephone so please do not waste your time or mine by emailing or calling me with detailed information about your health problems - I can only undertake face-to-face consultations for what should be obvious reasons. Diagnoses cannot be made remotely, and I am unable to offer any advice or treatment until I am completely satisfied that I know what I'm dealing with!  The herb profiles and treatment suggestions on this website will help enable you to choose which herbs might be appropriate for minor ailments. For more serious or chronic conditions you should seek professional advice. This is particularly important if you are taking medication from your doctor or pharmacist, as some herbs can interact adversely with other drugs. If you would like to have a consultation with a medical herbalist then you should click here  then scroll to 'Professional Organisations' at the bottom of the page to find a qualified practitioner in your area.

Christine Haughton, MA MNIMH MCPP FRSPH

Wold Farm, West Heslerton, Malton, North Yorkshire YO17 8RY, UK

Last updated 27th November 2014     ©Purple Sage Botanicals