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6 Herbs to Keep Healthy in Winter

6 Herbs to Keep Healthy in Winter

| Dr. JJ Pursell | Herbs for Common Ailments

Here are the 6 herbs I must have in my house over the winter! (note- all of these herbs have MANY uses, I’m simply going to share our favorite uses)

Learn how to use these six safe and effective herbs to keep your kids healthy through the long winter. They are so gentle they should be your first line of defense.


If I was to pick only one herb for the winter, the elderberry would be it! It has both antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties and is also an immune system stimulant, making it a powerhouse herb. Many take elderberry to avoid illness and boost their immune system, but even taken at the onset of a cold or influenza, it may help reduce the duration of the illness.

The most popular way to take elderberry is in syrup form, easily purchased from your local health food store or online retailer. BUT… you can also make it at home for a fraction of the cost. You simply need dried elderberries, honey (or sugar), and water to make a simple syrup.

How we use Elderberry:

  • As a homemade syrup a couple of times per week.
  • As a homemade syrup multiple times per day during illness (smaller, more frequent doses).
  • The adults take elderberry in tincture form in a tea blend simply for added immune benefit throughout the season (elderberry, nettle, hibiscus is a favorite!).


You might think of garlic as only a seasoning for your dinner, but garlic has amazing antiviral and antibacterial properties and has over 7,000 years of documented medicinal use! It also has wide-ranging systematic effects on the cardiovascular, digestive, and respiratory systems as well as on the liver.

How we use Garlic:

  • I mince raw garlic and stir it into softened butter as a spread for toast or to put on rice or potatoes.
  • It gets put into soups and broth when someone is feeling under the weather and I often double the garlic called for in recipes
  • Garlic oil is often used in our home for ear aches, made by combining minced garlic and olive oil over low heat, strained and cooled, and bottled for use.
  • And, not for the faint of heart (or children!), I will mix minced garlic, raw honey, and apple cider vinegar together and take a tablespoon a few times per day to avoid or fight off illness.

Let me fill you in on garlic’s little secret though, so that you can get the most medicinal bang for your buck… it has to be cut, chopped, or minced and left sitting for 5-10 minutes before you eat or cook with it!

While it sits, sulfur-rich compounds in the cloves are activated by oxygen and change certain compounds within the garlic into the protective compounds that offer us the most benefit. So, next time you need to add garlic to your meal, simply mince it and wait a few minutes before adding it to your pan.


This flower has wonderful anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, and is a fantastic wound healing herb, making it a perfect addition to the natural medicine cabinet in the winter! While we often think of “wounds” as skin abrasions that happen in the summer, winter brings its own skin problems. Chapped, dry skin is painful and many people suffer from eczema more in the winter months, leaving sores and scratches from itching.

How we use Calendula:

  • In herbal salves or oil-based lotions for dry skin
  • In diaper creams placed in mesh “tea” bags in a warm bath to sooth dry winter skin


Mullein is such a fun herb, and you’ve probably seen it growing along roadsides and in fields! It’s leaves are super soft and it’s small stalk of flower blossoms sticks up high above overgrown grass.

It has expectorant properties that can be helpful during spells of unproductive coughing, and is also anti-inflammatory, so it is often used during times of respiratory illness. The flowers can even be used – often helping to treat ear infections!

How we use Mullein:

  • Placed in a tea (sometimes along with elderberry) to assist the body during respiratory illness
  • Infused in oil (usually along with garlic) to help treat ear aches


Growing up, this plant cause me a lot of pain! It grew like a weed (pun intended) in front of our barn, almost like a forest. My sisters and I would carefully try and sneak around through the nettle forest, often getting stung and finding ourselves covered in small white blisters.

Thankfully, the type of nettle we’re talking about here is dried and won’t cause any harm.

Nettle is considered a nourishing herb as it has a rich vitamin and mineral content and it seems there is not much that nettle can’t help with! It’s often recommended for healthy hair, skin, and nails, as an energy booster, a treatment for skin disorders, as natural allergy relief, and for helping the body maintain proper insulin levels.

Because of its many vitamins and minerals, I tend to use this herb in a tea over the winter in order to add extra nutrients to growing bodies.


Often used as a nighttime tea to help relax bodies, it’s a great staple herb to have in your home.

Holidays are often times of higher anxiety and nervousness for children as their senses can be easily overwhelmed. Crowds in the stores, busy family gatherings, rushed parents, and classrooms full of excited children all mean that sometimes our kids need a bit of help to wind down. Chamomile and honey make a great tea for both kids and adults, even the practice of making the tea and sitting together can be calming and will help your little ones relax before or after an event.

But the benefits of chamomile don’t stop there! It can also be used for digestive upset or indigestion.

How we use Chamomile:

  • As a tea for relaxing busy and excited children
  • During and after stomach viruses to soothe the digestive tract as well as provide hydration

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