It’s the depths of winter, and if your office is anything like mine, that means a cacophony of coughs and sniffles and many empty desks as entire departments succumb to colds and flus. It may also mean you’re low on energy as you endure these shortest days of the year.
As a former editor for a natural health magazine, I’m a huge proponent of using natural medicine before you require a trip to the drugstore. If you give them the chance, natural remedies can heal and prevent all sorts of illnesses and ailments, and they do it without exacting a heavy toll on our bodies.
Here are some of my favorite ways to use natural medicine:
To cure ailments: Natural medicine can help relieve coughs, nausea and joint pain, as well as reduce the risk of major health issues such as cancer and heart attacks. Lucky for us, some of the strongest disease- and sickness-fighting herbal powerhouses are also delicious. Cinnamon, cloves and oregano have exceptionally high antioxidant capacity, which helps them ward off cancer. Green tea also contains a polyphenol called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which may help prevent lung cancer. To help relieve arthritis, add lots of yummy turmeric to your meals. It’s a strong anti-inflammatory that goes great in soups, sauces, stir-fries or over vegetables. If you have a family history of heart problems, ramp up your intake of garlic, which many studies have shown reduces cholesterol, heart disease and risk of heart attack. Simply eat about a clove daily, raw or lightly cooked. To read about 10 ailments cured by culinary herbs, read our article here.
Next: Herbs to boost energy and fight stress
To boost energy: The first steps to maintaining healthy energy levels are to get enough sleep (something many of us don’t do), and to get enough sunlight and exercise, both of which can be challenging when it’s dark outside by the time we get home from the office. If you work indoors all day, make time, especially in winter, to get outside for a 10-minute walk at least once (ideally three times) during the course of the day. Our bodies respond to sunlight, and even bright indoor light is significantly dimmer than sunlight. But if you’re doing all the right things and still feel a little lackluster, try herbal supplements to give you an extra boost. Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurvedic medicine (the ancient Indian medicinal system) for thousands of years to treat exhaustion and anxiety. Astragalus has a long history of use in Ancient Chinese Medicine as a remedy for fatigue. Ginseng is a popular and effective herb to increase energy and focus. And finally licorice boosts energy and stimulates the adrenal glands, which regulate metabolism. Read more about natural ways to boost energy.
Next: Herbs to help you relax
To relax: Many of us feel stress, which takes a toll on our health and makes it difficult to concentrate. Several herbs have a proven track record of helping alleviate stress and anxiety, and they’re much easier on our bodies than prescription medicine. The term “tonic herbs” refers to herbs that benefit the body in numerous ways, and many of them help increase our resistance to stress. Some top tonic herbs include eleuthero, an herb native to Asia that’s been used for at least two thousand years to improve general health and increase longevity; Asian ginseng, which has been revered for 5,000 years as a tonic to increase endurance, relieve fatigue and bolster immunity; and rhodiola, considered an official botanic medicine in Russia and many Scandinavian countries, where it’s prescribed to treat fatigue, alleviate depression and improve resistance to stress. Read more about herbal stress relief here.