Prepping for the Winter?

While winter invites us to enjoy warm soup, hot tea, and quiet time in front of the fireplace, it also invites cold and flu viruses into our lives.

Research shows that many cold and flu viruses thrive in the cold dry winter air. Spending more time indoors may also foster the spread of these unwelcome guests. What to do? Herbs, of course, in addition to a healthy diet, exercise, plenty of rest, and frequent hand washing.

With tonic herbs that support the immune system and other herbs that offer natural relief from common cold and flu symptoms, you can enjoy the winter season without those unwelcome guests.

This week we will consider the herbal immune tonics that strengthen the body’s defense system and next week, those herbs that offer natural relief when cold or flu symptoms arise.

teaspoon of herbal adaptogens for immune support on wooden background


The immune system is a complex network of specialized cells, tissues, and organs that protect the body from pathogens and rogue cells. Healthy functioning of the immune system is critical to our health, resistance to infection, and defense against certain diseases. As you may have discovered through personal experience, chronic stress suppresses the immune system’s ability to do its job, and increases our susceptibility to disease. This is where the herbal adaptogen comes into play.

Adaptogens are a remarkable and important category of herbs whose actions are unparalleled in medical science. Adaptogens help the body adapt to stress and restore balance. They increase the body’s resistance to physical, biological, emotional, and environmental stressors and modulate the immune system. They are considered tonics because they act in a generalized way to alleviate conditions of weakness in the body.

So, if you are under some unavoidable stress this winter, suffer from frequent colds, or are around people who are often sick, consider adding an herbal adaptogen to your daily self-care regime.

One important note about adaptogens–though they build strength in the body and can assist in the recovery from chronic illness, they are not recommended for use in the acute phase of a cold or flu. Consider their action more tonic and preventive.


Astragalus Root // This root is for people who are run-down and need an overall immune boost. Used for long term strengthening of the immune system, its antimicrobial activity may improve resistance to colds, flus, and bronchitis. In Chinese medicine, Astragalus is aid to strengthen the Lung qi, which is a protective energy that helps prevent illness caused by external forces. Astragalus is also used to counter the immune suppressive effects of chemotherapy treatment and possesses anti-tumor activity.

Eleuthero Root // Like Astragalus, Eleuthero is safe for long term use. It strengthens the immune system and research shows that regular use may reduce the incidence of colds and other common infectious diseases. Athletes also benefit from Eleuthero with increased endurance and stamina, shortened recovery time, and the prevention of immune-depletion from excessive training. Single parents and other people who work long hours, without adequate sleep are likely to feel better and perform better with Eleuthero.

Holy Basil //  Also known as Tulsi Basil, this adaptogen has been used for thousands of years in India and it’s benefits have now become the subject of modern clinical research. Today we know that this plant is stress reducing, anti-oxidant, modulates inflammation and has antiviral properties.

Licorice Root // This familiar, tasty root is used in small quantities to nourish the adrenals and combat fatigue. It also possesses immune-modulating, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and liver-protective properties. A note of caution-excessive quantities can elevate blood pressure.

And more…as I said these are just a few of my favorites of the diverse and versatile adaptogens.

Others adaptogens are American and Asian Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Reishi Mushroom, Schisandra, and Goji Berries.

There are many different forms in which you might choose to use these adaptogens-in teas, as tinctures (concentrated liquid extracts), capsules, and even as powders added to your morning smoothie. Choose the form that works best for you and your lifestyle.

Be well, be happy, and take your adaptogens!

Suzanne Teachey
Herbalist & Proprietress



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