Tips from our herbalist

Tuesday 08 September 2015

As we move in to Autumn, our resident herbalist Jane offers some advice to help us prepare for the colder months ahead.

Autumn is the time of year to prepare for the winter ahead and take herbs with immune boosting properties to help prevent ill health. The fruits of the autumn harvest and herbs from the summer harvest play an important role at this time of year in supporting the immune system. These herbs can be taken as teas or tinctures or a combination of both and we'll share more suggestions over the coming months.

Elderberries contain free radical scavengers that protect the cells from damage and are powerful antioxidants. These vitamin C-rich fruits boost the immune system by stimulating it to produce immune system messengers, acting as a preventative measure in staving off colds and flu. Elderberries also have a string of antiviral actions, and scientific studies have proved their efficacy in zapping the flu virus within days when taken at the very first signs of the bug arriving. They are a fantastic herbal ally for the coming winter months.

The human body, unlike some other mammals, cannot manufacture its own vitamin C and rosehips contain large amounts of this vitamin that can be readily absorbed by the body. They increase the body’s resistance to infection and help maintain healthy collagen, offering some protection against viral infections. They also have an anti-inflammatory action and can be useful in treating rheumatic complaints as well as the aches and pains associated with the common cold and the flu virus. 

The berries, flowers and leaves of the hawthorn tree all contain the same active constituents but in different proportions. As powerful antioxidants, hawthorn berries protect the heart and benefit the circulation. In the winter months a low dose is very beneficial to support the circulation and to prevent or help reduce degeneration of the blood vessels. The higher doses used to treat heart conditions are best left to be administered by trained medical herbalists and other health care professionals.

Echinacea (shown in our herb field in the photo above) is one of the most commonly recognised and important immune enhancing plants available in the medicine chest. It has antibacterial and antiviral actions as it stimulates an immune response rather than acting directly on the virus and increases the power of resistance within the body. It is highly valued in both the prevention and treatment of colds and flu and other forms of viral activity.