We’ve put together a short list (very short) of what we consider to be the Top 5 Herbs for Winter that may be useful during this time of the year.
While there are literally thousands of options, we feel that 5 key herbs for winter is a good start if you are some extra natural support over the winter flu period.
While most will think of this herb as your go-to at the first sign of a sniffle – the evidence is actually quite mixed when it comes to echinacea’s ability to treat upper respiratory tract infections. Further, this was not one of the main traditional uses of this herb.
However, it’s worth noting that the validity of many studies is questionable, given there is so much variance in the part of the plant used, and therefore, the phytochemical profile (not to mention the often inadequate dosage!).
Instead, think of echinacea as a herb to take prophylactically for infection prevention.
Echinacea is an immune stimulant. The main actives in the plant are alkylamides, which give a characteristic tingle on the tongue while making your mouth water, a great indicator of potency!
Astragalus (Astragalus spp.) is a “Qi tonifying” adaptogenic herb from the Chinese Materia Medica, prescribed for centuries for general weakness, chronic illness and to increase vitality. This herb is also used as a general tonic in the elderly and may be helpful as an adjunct in cancer treatment.
In Western Herbal Medicine, it is highly regarded as an immune tonic. It restores, strengthens and balances the body’s immune response whilst increasing vitality and resistance to both physical and emotional stressors. It is a specific remedy for those with chronically depleted immunity.
Medicinal mushrooms that support the immune system include reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis), coriolus (Coriolus versicolor), chaga (Inonotus obliquus), maitake (Grifola frondosa), and shiitake (Lentinula edodes).
Medicinal mushrooms are immune-modulators with anti-viral properties. They have a long history of use in Asia, Europe and Russia.
The main constituent responsible for these effects are polysaccharides called beta-glucans. Polysaccharides have a non-specific effect on the immune system, stimulating macrophages, natural killer cells, T cells, and the production of cytokines
Elderberry is the dark blue/black berry from the Sambucus nigra shrub.
It has a history of use in preventing and treating symptoms of influenza, colds and sinusitis, with anti-viral activity against influenza virus and herpes simplex.
A meta-analysis of four randomised, controlled clinical trials (with a total of 180 participants between them) found that supplementation with elderberry substantially reduced upper respiratory symptoms such as cough, nasal congestion and discharge, sore throat and fever, when compared to a placebo group.
They also found that elderberry was more effective at reducing the severity and duration of upper respiratory symptoms from the influenza virus than the common cold .
No adverse effects have been reported in clinical trials, and it is a safe remedy for all ages. It is after all a berry – food as medicine, and a lot milder than the leaf or bark.
Andrographis paniculata is used in traditional medicine to treat infectious diseases and fevers. Andrographis exhibits antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and immunostimulating properties. Either alone or in combination with other herbs, andrographis has been shown to reduce duration and severity of upper respiratory infections such as those associated with the common cold or flu. Andrographis extract may benefit patients with ulcerative colitis. It also reduced symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
There you have it, a great selection of amazing herbs many of which you can buy as Australian Grown Organic Certified. A number of herbal remedies or medicines have either single herbal ingredients or a combination of the above items to deliver support to your immune system. The best way to take these herbal products is (in our view) as liquids. Liquids tend to act much faster than tablets or capsules and in most cases the taste profiles are quite pleasant.
Keep your eye open for herbs for winter that are Made In Australia; by buying from Australian manufacturers, you can feel assured that quality and safety is paramount and by buying from Australian companies you are doing your bit to prop up good old Aussie spirit and our economy…
Stay safe and be healthy
Always speak to your healthcare professional if your health problem persists or worsens.