Winter is a time when the Earth rests. Cold weather causes plants to go dormant and makes us want to stay inside where it is warm. While cold short days aren’t the best for foraging plants, it is a great time to brew up some natural winter remedies with herbs that you have foraged and dried during the year. These ten natural remedies are great for fighting winter ailments, like coughs and colds, aching bones, chapped lips, and dry skin.
Slippery Elm Lozenges
Sore throats are common during these cold winter months. Lozenges are great for soothing a sore throat. These slippery elm lozenges are a great natural alternative to store-bought cough drops that are full of chemicals and artificial flavors and colors. Usually, you can feel relief immediately. They can be a great choice for an upset stomach as well. Slippery Elm lozenges are easy to make at home and great to have on hand for quick relief. All you need is a little honey, water, and slippery elm powder.
- Mix 1 TBSP honey with ¼ cup of water
- Place ½ cup of Slippery Elm powder in a small bowl
- Slowly drizzle honey water mixture into the powder
- Mix until it forms a kneadable dough (add more water if needed)
- Roll the dough out thin and cut individual lozenges (a small bottle cap makes a great cutter)
- Place on a screen to dry overnight.
- Store in an airtight container, in a cool, dry, dark place
Coughs are common in winter and they particularly troubling this winter.
Natural cough syrup is great to have on hand to help soothe your aching chest and let you rest. Plus it is super easy to make at home.
Just mix ¾ cup of raw honey, ¼ cup of olive oil, and the juice from one lemon together and you are done. You can store this in the fridge for up to a month.
Related: How I Make My Own Cough Mixture
Fire cider is a tonic designed to help you boost your immune system. Packed full of healthy, immune-boosting herbs and spices fire cider is great to help fight colds, coughs, and other winter ailments. Take a teaspoon every day for prevention and you can triple that if you are sick.
There are many different recipes out there for fire cider but they commonly include onions, garlic, some type of hot pepper, lemon, and ginger. Add all your ingredients to a jar and fill it with raw apple cider vinegar. Mix in honey to taste. The longer you let it sit the more potent it will be. Experiment with different ingredients until you find a blend you like.
Cold dry weather can lead to chapped lips. This easy to make lip balm is great to soften the effects of that biting air. Make up a larger batch and give them as gifts. Use a simple 3-2-1 ratio to make lip balm.
Melt 3 parts beeswax, 2 parts cacao butter, and 1 part coconut oil together in a double boiler. Mix to combine. Pour into tins or lip balm containers and let cool.
Dry winter air can suck all the moisture right out of our skin. This luscious body butter can be rubbed all over so your skin feels soft and supple. In a double boiler, melt together 2 parts cacao butter to 1 part coconut oil.
When the oils are combined, remove from heat and place it in the freezer. Leave it in the freezer for about twenty minutes, until it is hard but your finger will still dent it.
Now whip with an electric mixture until the butter has the consistency you like. If it feels too greasy continue to whip, the greasiness will dissipate. You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the melted oils to personalize it.
Store the finished body butter in a mason jar. Make up a large batch and give them as gifts.
Coughs can leave our chests aching in winter. This healing salve made with eucalyptus essential oil can help open your lungs so that you can breathe easier. Rub it into your chest and on your back to help soothe your cough.
First, dilute your eucalyptus EO into a carrier oil. Use 5 drops of EO to a tablespoon of carrier oil such as coconut or sweet almond oil. To make a salve mix your infused carrier oil with a harder butter, like cacao or shea butter, and beeswax. Melt equal parts butter, beeswax, and oil together in a double boiler to combine. Pour the melted mixture into a glass jar and allow it to cool. Apply it directly to your chest to help open your lungs.
Cold weather can bring out every ache and pain in our bones. Rub this pain-relieving salve liberally on all the core areas of your body. It’s great for aching joints and muscles. For this salve, you want to infuse your herbs into a carrier oil and use the infused oil to make your salve.
- Infused oil
- 2 ounces dry arnica flowers
- 2 ounces dry calendula flowers
- Carrier oil (olive, coconut, or sweet almond)
- Mason jar
- Coffee filter
- Tinted bottles for storage
- First, place the herbs in the mason jar
- Cover the herbs with your carrier oil to a minimum of two fingers above the top of the herbs. Take into account since you are using dry herbs add more oil as the material will absorb the liquid. Do not exceed double the height of herbs or your infusion will not be as strong.
- Seal the jar and leave it in a warm sunny window for at least two weeks
- When your infusion is ready place a coffee filter inside a funnel and strains the oil into a tinted bottle for storage.
- Store any remaining infused oil in a cool dark place
To make a salve mix your infused carrier oil with a harder butter, like cacao or shea butter, and beeswax. Melt equal parts butter, beeswax, and oil together in a double boiler to combine. Pour the melted mixture into a glass jar and allow it to cool.
Related: How to Make an Arthritis Tincture
Keeping your immune system strong is the key to staying healthy in the winter. Echinacea has been used as an immune booster for generations. While echinacea tinctures are expensive to buy, they are inexpensive and easy to make at home. You can use dried flowers and leaves for this tincture or dig echinacea roots after the first frost but before the ground freezes. You want to choose roots from a plant that is at least three years old.
- 3-4 ounces of echinacea (you can use flowers, roots, and stems)
- Vodka (or other alcohol at least 80 proof)
- Mason jar
- Coffee filter
- Tinted bottles for storage
- First, crush the echinacea to increase the surface area
- Place the crushed echinacea n the mason jar
- Cover the echinacea with vodka to a minimum of two fingers above the top of the roots. If you are using dry roots add more vodka as the material will absorb the liquid. Do not exceed double the height of roots or your tincture will not be as strong.
- Seal the jar and leave it in a cool dark place for at least two weeks
- When your tincture is ready place a coffee filter inside a funnel and strain the liquid into a tinted bottle for storage.
- Store in a cool dark place
For preventative use take one teaspoon daily, if you are ill you can take one teaspoon every two hours.
Winter colds and flu come with congestion and there’s nothing worse than sniffling and sneezing all day long. A great way to clear up a stuffy head is herbal steam. For this, you can use fresh or dry herbs. While it’s hard to find fresh herbs outside, you can grow many medicinal herbs in pots indoors.
They are best kept in a warm spot in a south-facing window. It’s easy to make herbal steam, just boil water, add your herbs, and let them steep for ten minutes. When the herbs have steeped cover your head with a towel and lean in close over the steaming pot. Inhale the herbal steam for no more than ten minutes at a time. There are many herbs that can be added to the steam but I like to use eucalyptus, mint, and rosemary to alleviate congestion.
Pine Bath Salts
While pine needles are around all year, they stand out in winter as being one of the few green things still growing. We associate the smell of pine with holidays and warmth. Pine helps relax our body and soothe aching muscles. You can simply add a handful of fresh pine needles to a hot bath and feel your tension melt away. But a better method is to make this delightful pine bath salt.
Make sure you use dry pine needles if you plan on storing this for more than two weeks. Mix two cups of Epsom salts with 1 cup of pine needles. Add 20 drops of pine essential oil to 1 tablespoon of carrier oil such as olive, coconut, or sweet almond oil. Mix the oils into the salt pine needle mixture. Store in a mason jar. To prevent the pine needles from clogging your bath, put several tablespoons of the salt mixture into a cheesecloth bag before adding them to your bath.
Whether it’s a cold that’s bothering you or you are simply suffering effects from the cold weather, these remedies will help cure what is bothering you in a natural way.
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