While you’re organizing all the ‘back to school’ supplies, don’t forget to plan and optimize your nutrition. Nourishing, home-cooked meals can play a major role in supporting the overall health, but never underestimate your liquid nutrition (aka smoothies, cold pressed juices, teas, broths) as well. With colder weather and relentless central heating that can be overly drying, hydration is key to keeping things moving in and out of the body.
Instead of drinking plain water or low quality bagged teas though, consider steeping potent high quality loose leaf teas for yourself and family to put in a thermos and/or having a big batch at home for everyone to enjoy after school/work.
Herbal teas are wonderful for enhancing our health. Leaves and berries are loaded with antioxidants to combat damage in our cells and have boatloads of vitamins and minerals. Colds and flus are hard to avoid, but herbs can lessen their impact and/or shorten the duration and prevent them in the first place.
Here are my top 6 herbs that are worth having on hand for back to school season. They are best incorporated into nourishing herbal infusions to support the entire family during school transition time and going through seasonal changes:
1. Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
Elderberries are a commonly grown fruit of the Sambucus tree. They are rich in antioxidants, which fight inflammation, have been shown to relieve the symptoms of colds and flus, lessen their duration and boost the immune system.
Elderberries are high in certain flavonoids – anthocyanins – primarily found in the pigments of dark blue and deep purple fruits such as blueberries, blackberries, aronia berries, skins of black grapes and more. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that are thought to protect the body’s cells from the potential damage caused by free radicals. Paired with warming spices and local, raw honey, elderberries make a wonderful elixir to fight off viruses and bacteria and help maintain your health.
This is a delicious blend of elderberries, hibiscus, rosehips, cinnamon and other plant allies to help ease cold and flu symptoms and ease a sore throat.
Elderberries can also be made into a yummy syrup. Made at home using this convenient DIY elderberry syrup kit will also help adjust the amount of sweetener to your needs. Plus, it's fun to make with kids!
2. Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
The bright red plant is not only hailed for its fruity tart flavour, but also for its numerous health benefits. Its petals are chock-full in antioxidants and vitamin C - one of the major players for fending off colds and flu that come with seasonal changes.
The high-C tea can also be enjoyed as a cold and flu preventative.
3. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
A mint family plant that as the name suggests, it has a refreshing lemony scent and flavour. It acts as an antioxidant and has antiviral properties. It’s also a soothing herb that promotes rest and sleep - and who doesn’t need more of that when they’re under the weather?
4. Rosehips (Rosa canine)
The fruit of the rose plant is an important player in the prevention of cold and flu. Due to rosehips high vitamin C content, during World War II people were encouraged to collect wild roses and make a rosehip tea and syrup to boost their immune function.
5. Ginger root (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger has been a trusted remedy for centuries. It contains the antioxidant gingerol, the main disease fighting compound in ginger root. It’s an antiviral that helps thin mucus and combat nausea. During the colder months, ginger can be very appealing due to its warming properties. It’s strengthening and energizing - a perfect choice for the whole family!
6. Astralagus root (Astragalus membranaceus)
Astralagus is an adaptogenic herb which promotes body’s resilience to fight off germs. In his book Medical Herbalism David Hoffman says “Astragalus appears to strengthen both nonspecific and specific immunity.” This study displays its ability to regulate body’s immune response.
So pour yourself a cup of tea, get plenty of rest and you’re sure to feel better! Always keep your herb cabinet ready for whatever fall and winter may bring.
What herbs are you turning to right now?