When winter turns to spring, boost your health and well-being with some simple herbal remedies.
After the long, dark winter, everyone looks forward to the warmer, longer days of spring, with its blossoming trees, birdsong and colorful flowering bulbs. The mind and body are often at a low ebb by the end of winter due to the long evenings shut away indoors and time spent in centrally heated homes, offices and gyms. The body’s immunity is further reduced by a stodgy winter diet.
Now is the time to emerge from hibernation and enjoy the clear spring weather. Get into shape with outdoor activities and refresh your senses with the scents and sounds of spring.
Include fresh, seasonal vegetables in your diet to restore your vitality. Boost immunity with Echinacea and foods rich in antioxidants. Detox your system with spring greens, garlic and onions in preparation for the increased activity of body and mind in the warmer months.
Colds and other respiratory infections are usually associated with winter, but viral infections are common in spring.
As air temperatures rise, germs rapidly multiply, resulting in spring colds and, alarmingly, an increased risk of food poisoning.
Trees release tiny pollen grains into the air, which are carried on spring breezes. An allergic reaction triggered by pollen causes the release of histamine, resulting in hay fever symptoms.
Spring is full of the promise of good things to come, but it can also bring with it seasonal colds and hay fever. Avoid these by increasing your activity levels and using herbal remedies.
People of all ages and cultures love flowers. In spring you can delight in the miracle of colorful bulbs pushing through the earth later followed by beautiful blossoming trees.
Boost your mood and energy by surrounding yourself with natural spring color. Fill window boxes and pots with spring bulbs and always have a fresh vase of flowers on your desk at work, or on your table at home. Choose fresh, vibrant yellows and reds to stimulate you mind, or gentle blues and violets to induce peaceful thoughts.
*We all need more physical activity, especially after a winter indoors. Regular exercise stimulates the circulation, tones muscle and keeps your heart healthy. Choose activities that you enjoy, so that they are not a chore. Exercise also releases dopamine, the feel-good hormone’, which leaves you feeling more energetic and positive about life.
Swap the gym for outdoor activities and benefit from the fresh spring air.
Take a walk at weekends or a cycle ride with friends.
Now that the mornings are lighter, walk to work if you can, instead of jumping in your car, and take in all the sights and sounds.
Exercise in fresh air helps to relieve stress and allows your skin to soak up much needed sunshine. Ensure that your skin is protected from UV rays, even in spring, with protective sunscreen.
If possible prepare for this seasonal allergy-buster a couple of months ahead with infusions of herbs that have anti-histamine action, such as chamomile, elderflower, eyebright and golden seal Their effect is cumulative, so to benefit fully from this take them throughout the spring.
A drink of chamomile tea 2-3 times a day is particularly effective for easing inflammation caused by hay fever. If you use chamomile tea bags, save the bags after use and, when cool, place one over each closed eyelid to soothe sore, itching eyes.
Steam inhalations of essential oils, such as chamomile, lavender, rose or lemon, are effective at relieving hay fever. Add 3-4 drops of a favorite oil or a blend of 2-3 drops to a bowl of hot water. Cover your head and bowl with a towel and inhale the vapors.
Simple additions to your diet can boost your immunity to spring ailments. Choose foods rich in vitamin C, such as strawberries, fresh orange juice and new potatoes. Zinc is a valuable defense against spring colds and can be found in nuts and wholegrain cereals. Spicy foods with ginger, cayenne and garlic will boost your circulation and protect your body against infections.
Maintain vitality with iron-rich food. This doesn’t always mean red meat, as pulses and chicken are also good sources or iron.
A bowl of salad greens is rich in vitamins and nutrients. Add sprouted beans for protein and eat with wholemeal bread, especially loaves containing nutrient-rich seeds and grains.
You skin can feel dull and tired after a long winter, so clear your complexion with a gently oatmeal scrub.