Updated: Dec 4, 2020
You may not have realized this, but despite all the attention to infection prevention this year, there are still bugs going around. The precautions we are currently taking will lower our exposure, but they don’t eliminate the chance getting an infection this season. There are so many ways to address these colds and flu’s, but did you know your very own kitchen cabinets are chock full of options for preventing and treating mild infections this winter? It’s true! Read on for my favourite culinary herbs that can act as great little helpers this winter season. Most of these herbs have wide reaching health benefits, much beyond the scope of this article. Come into the clinic (in person / virtually) and chat with one of us naturopathic doctors for more specifics on herbal indications and dosing. For most of these herbs, it is the volatile oil component that has many of its medicinal properties. These are often released when chopping / slicing them fresh, or heating them up.
Garlic protects against bacterial and viral infections. It also has a secondary action to support heart health. You can consume fresh garlic raw (spicy, but effective), cooked, or use it dried. Use chopped cloves in cooking, or roast whole bulbs and spread them on crackers.
Oregano is widely recognized for its antiviral properties. It also has secondary actions for digestive health. You can use it fresh or dried. Add it to sauces, marinades, dressings, or soups.
Thyme acts as a strong antiseptic. It also has secondary actions when used topically for musculoskeletal health. It too can be used fresh or dried. Consider using it as a seasoning on eggs or poultry, or in soups and stews
Ginger warms up the entire system which increases the body’s ability to fight all types of infections. It has many secondary actions including being anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory. Fresh ginger is ideal, although dried has some benefit as well. It goes well in sauces and stir-frys, or as a delicious tea.
NB: all these herbs could easily be combined in a big veggie / chicken soup. So when that first tickle in the throat arrives this winter, crack open your spice drawer. You have a world of herbal cold fighting tools right at your fingertips!
Dr. Stephanie Peltz has been practicing naturopathic medicine since 2008. Her area of expertise is in women's and childhood health including preconception care, fertility concerns, pregnancy, and postpartum care. You can find her at Dupont Naturopathic Family Centre on Tuesdays, Thursdays and every other Saturday. Click here to make an appointment