All things earthy and herby!

Month: February 2018

The Magic Medicinal Mushroom – Chaga

The Magic Medicinal Mushroom – Chaga

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, chances are you have seen the birch tree.  With its eye-catching white bark and glistening leaves, it is easily my favorite tree.  There is no greater sight to me than watching birch leaves with fresh dew or frost […]

Garlic Poultice Recipe

Garlic Poultice Recipe

One of the best weapons I’ve found to combat illness is garlic.  Garlic is an extremely potent antiviral and antibiotic.  Many people like to simply eat garlic – and that’s totally okay!  But for those of us with sensitive taste buds or those of us […]

Flu Season: Let’s chat nitty gritty

Flu Season: Let’s chat nitty gritty

For decades we have heard the phrase “flu season.” But what is it? How can a viral illness have a season? Simply put – it does not. This might come as a surprise for most people since the advertisements for the flu and the host of medical products that surround it rival most town’s Christmas decorations. As soon as the leaves make their descent you can guarantee you’ll start seeing banners flying from roof tops regarding “flu season.” You won’t be able to set foot into most stores without tripping over props.

You can take your tinfoil tiaras off for this post, though.  There will be no data about how ineffective the flu shot is. I won’t mention anything about Tamiflu and its side effects.  And we definitely won’t be talking about the link between Tamiflu and the flu shot and this year’s influenza-related deaths.  Today we will be talking about what we can do naturally to prevent the flu and what options we have to treat influenza naturally at home.

First, let’s talk about why so many people seem to fall ill around this time of year.  There are a lot of things that factor into a healthy immune system. We know the obvious – diet and exercise.  But what constitutes a good diet? And what does that have to do with a certain time of year?  And how does stress factor in?

The word “diet” makes my skin crawl.  I’m not keen on giving anyone diet advice.  I’m more interested in a healthy lifestyle that incorporates smart food choices.  Healing food choices.  Let’s break it down and see the things we can do to ensure our immune system is operating at full capacity.

Avoid Sugar

Sugar acts as an immediate immune suppressor. [1]  Ingesting sugar causes the immune system to temporarily shut down, like turning off your home alarm system.  And this time of year is like the purge.  So you really want to keep that system up and running.  Unfortunately, nothing says, “HAPPY HOLIDAYS” like pie, cookies, brownies, chocolate, candy and all the goodies we are buried in from October to April.

Eat Your Vitamins

Your options here are simple.  Either eat foods that are high in vitamins and antioxidants or consider taking a quality multi-vitamin.  Leafy greens, fresh fruits and green vegetables are a great choice.  The best vitamins are going to be found online or at your local health food store.  I like to research products using LabDoor, an independent consumer research group that tests the purity of different vitamin brands. One of the most important vitamins to assist the immune system is vitamin D.  Vitamin D can be found in a few foods such as mushrooms and eggs from free-range chickens that spend time outside.  A major source of vitamin D is the sun.  And sadly, many of us in the colder regions find ourselves stuck inside.  Cold temperatures and shorter days ensure our bodies are not going to get as much Vitamin D from the sun as we do during those great summer months.  This can also explain why we seem to fall ill much easier.

Avoid Stress

This is easier said than done – especially during these months.  From October to April we have major holidays which most people celebrate.  Folks are under a tremendous amount of stress due to financial and performance deadlines at their employers.  Retail employees feel the pressure of the huge burst in consumerism that happens in November and December. The list goes on and on.  And on.  Epsom salt baths or foot soaks or herbal baths can do wonders for relieving some of that stress, restoring magnesium levels and helping the body remove the toxins of daily life.

Wash Your Hands

Proper hand-washing techniques can work wonders when you’re trying to skirt getting sick.  If you’re out and about be sure to take advantage of public restrooms and wash those hands!  When I find myself in a jam I like to pull out my immunity roller.


Okay – so these are all things that we can do to avoid illness. But what are the options for treating illnesses once we fall ill?

  • Stock your pantry with foods and herbs that have natural antibiotic and antiviral properties.  These can include:
    • Garlic – fresh (organic if possible) garlic from your local grocer is always best.  Consider making a garlic poultice (click for my recipe) and applying to neck and feet.
    • Ginger Root – fresh (organic if possible) ginger root is always best but we have used this dried ginger when we could not get fresh ginger. Ginger is great in tea and can also be made into a poultice by itself or combined with fresh garlic (click here for my recipe).
    • Horseradish Root – fresh (organic if possible) horseradish root is always best. It can be added to tea to help combat influenza and other illnesses.
    • Elderberries or Elderberry Syrup – elderberry tea or syrup has amazing benefits. We make our own syrup and tea to avoid the fillers, preservatives and sugars that are added to commercial syrups. I prefer this brand of organic elderberries from Frontier Co-op.
    • Stinging Nettles – if I could only have on herb on hand it would be nettles. They are great for everything from pregnancy support to fighting the flu. I use this brand of organic nettles and make tea using my loose-leaf tea diffuser.
  • Acquire high-quality sodium ascorbate or ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).  We have used this brand for several years and have had great results.
  • Stop consuming sugar at the fist sign of illness.
  • Consider homeopathic remedies to match your symptoms.  Almost everyone has heard of oscillococcinum in the last few months.
  • Take a detox bath.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  This page should not be used in place of medical advice.  Please see your doctor if you have any questions or concerns regarding your health issues.





Ginger and Garlic: A Love Story

Ginger and Garlic: A Love Story

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite pairs – Ginger & Garlic. This power couple packs a punch! While garlic is generally the “A-list celebrity” of the relationship, studies are showing that ginger is an extremely potent complement […]