top of page

Hello Winter - Earth Medicine for Immune Support

Winter really has set in and it seems to be a bit of a bumper year for coughs, colds, ongoing c*vid infections as well as some pretty nasty flu viruses that are doing the rounds. I am just emerging into the world again after a week long journey with the flu, so that is the inspiration for this newsletter to you - how I looked after myself and my family through this time - and so that you can do the same for yourself.

Nurture Yourself Stay well hydrated and drink herbal teas, especially a combination of yarrow, elder flower and peppermint. This traditional formulation will support the body in ridding itself of the virus by allowing the fever to come up, so it can do the job that it is meant to, and help the immune system to work at its optimal level of function. Make a pot of delicious chicken soup with chilli, ginger and garlic in it - I have included a recipe for you below. Not only does this beautiful nourishing bowl of soup give your body the nutrients that it needs to recover, but the addition of chilli, ginger and garlic lend their heating, antibiotic and immune stimulating properties to the soup. making your food your medicine! Most of all - rest, rest, rest, keep warm and rest some more. Please listen to the deep intelligence of your body and take the time that you need to fully recover. Pushing through to get back to work can bring complications that can be far reaching. Please call work to let them know that you are going to stay home for a couple of days, or arrange to work limited hours from home so that you can rest, sleep and just take good and gentle care of yourself.

Immune Support

Echinacea is a beautiful immune booster and a cornerstone in my practice during the winter months. It boosts all aspects of the immune system, supports the lymphatic system and boosts the activity and function of white blood cells. It is useful for all acute viral infections, colds, influenza, ear infections, conjunctivitis, bronchitis and pneumonia along with other supportive lung and immune herbs. Andrographis is one of our most potent immune boosting herbal medicines and is particularly suited to acute bacterial and viral infections. I often prescribe it alongside Echinacea to boost immunity, improve recovery time and reduce the possibility of a cold or flu progressing into something more. Astragalus is a sweet and nourishing deep immune building herbal medicine and has long been used for infection prevention where there is debility. It is used to enhance the immune system function but not during acute infection, to improve stamina and endurance, for colds and influenza and for fatigue and convalescence. The dried roots can be found in Asian grocery stores and I tend to add them to soups and slow cooked meals during the winter months. Garlic has been used since ancient Greece and has numerous healing properties, is a natural antibiotic and boosts immunity, so add it to your slow cooked meals and soups while you are sick, or even when you feel a cold coming on. Adults take 1 capsule 2 - 3 times daily when sick or take 1 - 2 capsules daily as prevention. Take Vitamin C to support the immune system by stimulating the activity of antibodies and improving the ability of macrophages to do their work of engulfing and destroying viruses. High doses of Vitamin C have long been used to prevent, treat and shorten duration of virus related illnesses. Adults can take 1500mg twice daily to keep your immune system strong and healthy during winter and increase to 4000- 5000mg per day in divided doses if unwell. Take Zinc for general immune support, to shorten the length of colds and to resolve nasal congestion, sore throats and coughs faster. Adults can take 30mg daily with food for prevention and increase to 50mg daily with food if unwell. Use Vitamin D to support the immune system and prevent against acute respiratory infections and seasonal influenza. Adults can begin with 4000 – 5000iu per day for the 7 – 10 days and then reduce to 2000iu per day throughout winter.

Yarrow, Elder & Peppermint Tea

Fever tea or YEP Tea is named for its ingredients - Yarrow, Elder and Peppermint - and is a traditional Western Herbal Medicine diaphoretic formula used to activate the immune system when there is acute and chronic infection. It reduces fever and shortens the length and severity of influenza, coughs and colds. 1 tsp dried Yarrow 1 tsp dried Elder flower 1 tsp dried Peppermint

Add honey or a slice of ginger if preferred Cover and steep the herbs in boiling water for 10 - 15 minutes. Rug up and drink while warm! Take up to 4 times daily day during illness. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a diaphoretic and anti-pyretic herb so it helps to reduce fevers by promoting sweating. It is also slightly bitter so helping to increase appetite, which is often lowered when you feel unwell. This herb is a wonderful companion during the winter months and is very safe, however it should be avoided in pregnancy and lactation. Elder (Sambucus nigra) is immune enhancing, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory so is particularly suited for fever, aches, pains, colds, coughs, influenza and any other acute viral infections. It is also anti-catarrhal so helping to reduce stuffy noses and phlegm production. The extract is quite pleasant tasting and can safely be used throughout winter as preventative for children. Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is typically thought of as a digestive herb but in this formulation it brings decongestant properties so helping to clear the sinuses. It is also antimicrobial and its cooling effect supports Yarrow and Elderflower in reducing fevers. This tea needs to be made fresh each time so that it can be taken warm. If you have these plants in your garden you can make the tea fresh by doubling the amount listed of yarrow leaves, elder flowers and peppermint leaves. Alternatively you can buy the dried herbs individually or as a pre-formulated YEP tea blend online or from your local health food store.

Winter Reflections.... from Caitlin

Winter has well and truly arrived! As with the winter phase of the menstrual cycle and the life cycle, the season of winter is a time to slow down, rest, hibernate, reflect, and release. The cold weather encourages us to stay inside, both physically and energetically, encouraging us to move from the outward energy of the warmer months to inward introspection. During winter you may find yourself gravitating to more warming foods such as root veggies including potatoes, pumpkins, parsnips, sweet potatoes, carrots as well as warming spices such as chilli, garlic, cinnamon, ginger, star anise and cloves. Our tummies much prefer warm meals such as stews and soups in winter, as opposed to cold salads, so having a few favourite slow cooker recipes that can feed us throughout the week is helpful. Kerri has included a beautiful immune-supporting chicken soup recipe below for you to try! Journaling is a wonderful practice at this time, where we can reflect on how the first half of the year has been: what went well, what we want to change, where we want to focus our energy for the second half of the year and how we can let go of what is no longer serving us. Meditation can be especially helpful in winter, as we lean into the quiet of the season. When meditating, try bundling up in your warmest, cosiest blanket. Although it's chilly, it can feel very special to get your biggest coat on and spend some time out in nature, noticing how things look, feel, and sound different to the warmer months. Most of all, allow yourself to rest deeply and fully. Enjoy activities and hobbies that nourish your soul, spend plenty of time under the covers in bed, take warm baths, and drink lots of hot tea!


Chicken Soup for the Soul...

There really is nothing like chicken soup, or a hearty pumpkin soup, for making you feel better when you have a nasty cough, cold or sniffle. I love this recipe and often use it as the base for my soups and slow cooked meals during the winter months. This recipe is one that comes from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon along with a couple of my own twists. Stock 1 whole organic chicken 3 tablespoons organic apple cider vinegar 1 large chopped onion 4 large peeled carrots 3 sticks chopped celery, including the tops 4 - 6 slices Astragalus root * 5 - 6L filtered water 1 bunch parsley Wash the chicken well and place it onto a chopping board. Press down firmly on the rib cage and break the bones. Then place the chicken into the stock pot along with the water, apple cider vinegar, onion, carrots, celery, astragalus root and celery tops and allow to stand on the stove top for 1 - 2 hours. Then bring the water to the boil. Once the stock is to the boil, reduce to a simmer and allow to cook with the lid on for 4 - 6 hours. Top up the water if necessary so that the level stays at about 2/3 of the stock pot. To finish, take to stock off the heat and add the parsley. Allow the parsley to sit in the stock for 10 - 15 minutes before removing it. Then strain the stock and put into jars so that it can be frozen for later use. Chicken Soup 1 onion 1 - 2 L chicken stock 1/2 cup shredded chicken 6 - 8 chopped mushrooms including shitake 1/2 cup cooked brown rice Chilli, ginger or garlic Add chopped onion, chilli, ginger, garlic and olive oil to a stock pot and fry until the onion becomes translucent. Then add the stock, mushrooms, shredded chicken and cooked brown rice. Cover and allow to simmer for 10 - 15 minutes. Enjoy with some buttery sourdough bread. * Astragalus Root can be found in most Asian grocery stores in the dried mushroom and herb section, sometimes labelled as Milk Vetch root.

Take gentle care,

Kerri x

References: Bone, K. (1996). Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic & Chinese Herbs: Monographs for the Western Herbal Practitioner. Phytotherapy Press Bone, K. & Mills, S. (2013). Principles and practice of Phytotherapy (2nd ed.). Elsevier.

Braun, L., & Cohen, M. (2014). Herbs and Natural Supplements (4th ed., Vol. 2). Elsevier.

Fisher, C. (2009). Materia Medica of Western Herbs. Vitex Medica Osiecki, H. (2010). The Nutrient Bible (9th ed.). BioConcepts Publishing. Paxton, F. (2015). Foundations of Naturopathic Nutrition. Allen & Unwin. Thomsen, M. (2020). Phytotherapy Desk Reference (5th ed.). Michael Thomsen.


bottom of page