If you brought any of your herb plants in for the winter, you’ll notice quickly that they’re not happy indoors and need a lot more attention to get through the winter months. Most of them want to be watered frequently, misted daily, stroked & groomed, etc. They will fare better if you give them sun-lamp time in the morning, because winter sun is weak even in your sunniest windows. You’ll need to do some preventative things to keep white fly, spider mites and scale from making your herb “pets” sick. One good idea is to give them space and put a fan on them to cause the leaves/branches to move. Illness doesn’t set in nearly as much if the plants are getting good air and movement. Ignore the plant’s needs and you’ll end up with sick, stressed, wilted, dried-out plants that have lost their green lushness and vitality.

If you apply the above information to your own health, you’ll fare better this winter too. Indoor environments are “sealed up” for the winter, so they house air pollutants, allergens, and bacteria. In the summer, we spend less time in these environments, but in the winter, we tend to stay in. Like the herb plants, when we are couped up indoors over the winter, we have to make more of an effort to get fresh air, sunlight, movement & moisture. These and other preventative measures will get you through the winter a little less stressed.

Here’s how to accomplish this:
Take in more chlorophyll-rich substances (green drinks, herbal teas, green leafy vegetables & seaweeds), which increase the oxygen available to all body cells. Run an air purifier in your home & office. Open the windows on warmer days.

Take an exercise or yoga class, or make an appointment for massage or movement therapy. Go outdoors when you can (for walks or games) and mimic the soothing effects of sunlight by spending time in warm environments (sunrooms, sauna, warm baths).

Intake more water, teas, herb-enriched soups and foods which keep the body “moist”, otherwise you may suffer from dry nasal passages (leading to sinus infection), dry throat (leading to upper respiratory infection), dry skin (leading to eczema) and dry joints (leading to arthritis-type discomforts). One of the best “wetting” herbs is licorice root. Licorice is also anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-stress. Do not take licorice if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, diabetes or cardiac problems.

COLD/FLU PREVENTION: Wash hands more frequently. Surround yourself with anti-bacterial & anti-viral herbs. There are many ways to do this. Use a tea tree or lavender soap, use peppermint spray mist in your car or office, steam some rosemary in a pot of water on your stove or radiator, use eucalyptus essential oils in a diffuser or steam bath, keep lavender sachets in your pillow and use lavender bath products, drink herbal teas that include anti-viral ginger or licorice. Cook with lots of garlic. Include elderberry extract in your juice or tea at the onset of sore throat or flu-like symptoms. Take echinacea root extract at the first sign of cold (for 7 days).

It’s a bit comical to think that you only need to treat yourself as well as you’d treat a potted plant to get by---but it may just be true!

Author's Bio: 

Laura Davimes is the Owner of HERBAN AVENUES in Richmond, VA. She is a member of the Herb Research Foundation and Board Member of the Mid-Atlantic Holistic Health Conference. She is an herbalist, researcher, educator, and environmental activist. Laura graduated from University of Richmond with degrees in Psychology and Art. She has been studying and using herbs for over 15 years. For more information visit www.chooseherbs.com or call (804) 275-1027.