Winter Herbal Remedies from the Medicinal Garden

For a well-stocked cabinet of winter herbal remedies, take time during fall to harvest and preserve medicinal roots, such as elecampane, marshmallow, and burdock.

  • Fermented garlic cloves work well as medicine or a tasty treat.
    Photo by Fotolia/Africa studios
  • Nutritious parsley root slices can be added to soups, casseroles, or stir-fries, whether fresh, dried, or frozen.
    Photo by Brent Hofacker
  • Elecampane tea will help clear congestion and fight colds.
    Photo by Fotolia/Picture Partners
  • Soothe sore, irritated throats with marshmallow.
    Photo by Fotolia/Picture Partners
  • Sunchoke roots could stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria, and improve colon health and lipid metabolism.
    Photo by Fotolia/PhotoHampster
  • In addition to their medicinal value, sunchokes make a tasty addition to any recipe that calls for potato.
    Photo by Fotolia/Dragoncello
  • The roots and leaves of burdock are used for the treatment and care of hair.
    Photo by Fotolia/13Mile

When it’s time to put away our tools, slow down, and prepare for a long winter’s rest, many of us need the physical reminder that autumnal temperatures bring. Between work, errands, school activities, and more, it can be all too easy to continue operating at full steam during the change of seasons, but that’s the time of year when our bodies need to restore themselves.

Recipes for Winter Health

Pickled Garlic Cloves Recipe
Pickled Sunchokes Recipe

Mirroring our own turn inward, perennials and biennials return their energy to their roots in the fall. This is why many of winter’s herbal remedies are made from medicinal roots. As we approach the year’s end for harvesting food and medicinal plants, this is the ideal time to turn to preservation. Many of us preserve food, but it’s just as beneficial to stock our medicine chest with homegrown items — many medicinal plants can be “put up” in the same way as vegetables. We’re merely freezing, canning, and drying a complement to our winter food supply.

Some wild roots, such as sunchoke, can even be dug in winter as long as the ground hasn’t frozen too hard. If you wish to harvest roots throughout winter, before the snow falls, it’s important to walk the land to locate and mark them for a later harvest. Mother Nature doesn’t plant in rows like we do, so I use a brightly colored row marker labeled with the plant name. If you try this, make sure your marker is tall enough to show above a snowfall.

6 Medicinal Plants for Winter Herbal Remedies

1. Garlic (Allium sativum): The benefits of garlic are many, but it’s an important antimicrobial to have on hand. It’s one of our modern day panaceas, with many potential medicinal applications, including reducing cholesterol, slowing down atherosclerosis, strengthening the immune system, and fighting cancer. It’s wise to consume garlic regularly as a way to maintain general wellness, especially as winter illnesses make the rounds. In addition to the therapeutic benefits of garlic, it’s also a great treatment to help kick out viruses at the onset, either by consuming large amounts in raw form as food, or by making your own capsules or tinctures. The constituent allicin is responsible for the antimicrobial aspect and must be used freshly crushed. Some research has found that the DNA protective effects of garlic are protected from heat if the garlic is chopped or crushed and then allowed to stand for 10 minutes before cooking. If you’re using garlic for circulatory or reproductive health, there are no time-frame limitations for usage. Garlic is easy to grow almost anywhere in the country. Dig bulbs when there are just five green leaves remaining on the stalk.

Notes on preservation: Clean the husk from the clove, and you can pickle the clove in honey, or vinegar. Garlic can also be infused into oil or made into a tincture. Dried cloves can be stored as is or powdered for later use.



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