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  • Writer's pictureRedwood Naturopathic Medicine

Winter Wellness From Your Kitchen

This is typically the time of year when we become more susceptible to falling ill. Instead of running to buy every cold/flu remedy at the drugstore, you might have powerful remedies right under your nose. Herbs can be a powerful healing tool, when used in conjunction with overall general wellness practices such as eating a nutritious diet, hydrating, getting adequate sleep, and stress management. Continue reading to learn more about using everyday kitchen staples to boost your immune wellness this winter.


  • Garlic is known for far more than its delicious addition to any dish. Garlic is a potent medicinal tool that can enhance your immune system during winter.

  • Benefits/Usage:

    • Raw garlic cloves support the body's response to respiratory conditions during the winter because they act as immune system stimulants. Garlic contains diaphoretic (meaning it can trigger sweating to release toxins through open pores) and expectorant (encouraging productive coughing to break up mucus) properties. Garlic also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can lessen some of the discomforts associated with a cold. It can also reduce the length of the cold by boosting the immune system, thinning mucus, and lowering a fever.

    • Strongly antibacterial, garlic has a favorable effect on the respiratory and digestive systems. As you (or your friends, if you're a garlic enthusiast) may have noticed, active volatile oils are expelled through the lungs and skin. It may also work directly against pathogenic organisms in the gut. While this aids in infection prevention, it also produces a noticeable body fragrance that deters some people from using garlic as a treatment. Although it is unlikely to have the same direct antimicrobial activity, encapsulated aged garlic extract improves overall immune function and leaves one with less breath and skin odor.

    • If applied topically, garlic can address athlete's foot and other skin infections. As well as, if used in an oil infusion with mullein, it can be used to manage an ear infection.

    • One thing to note is that reflux and gastric discomfort can happen in those with sensitive digestive systems. Garlic may also exacerbate stomach ulcers or other gastrointestinal sensitivity.

    • Garlic should be roasted only for a short period at a high temperature to maintain its health benefits. You can spread generous amounts of garlic on toast or stir it into tea at the end of steeping time! Garlic can be taken with honey, olive oil, or food to p

revent gastrointestinal sensitivity.


  • Benefits/Usage:

    • Although ginger is most known for treating nausea, it is also a potent antibacterial with several beneficial uses for colds and the flu. Ginger is an all-around warming immune stimulant that is pleasant and useful in beverages throughout the cold and flu season. Ginger's volatile oils activate the immune system to combat bacterial and viral infections. Many herbalists find that it can prevent the emergence of upper respiratory infections when used at the first signs of viral infection. The antiviral effects of ginger include increasing the activity of macrophages, preventing viruses from adhering to cell walls, and acting as a virucide.

    • In addition, ginger has additional properties that make it effective as a catalyst in herbal antimicrobial formulas, increasing their activity by widening blood vessels, improving circulation.

    • Ginger is generally consumed fresh since its antibacterial properties are at their peak in the young rhizome. The efficiency of fresh ginger cannot be topped. Infections of the skin can also be treated topically with fresh ginger juice.


  • Benefits/Usage:

    • Thyme has expectorant (aids in breaking up mucous), diaphoretic (heats the body and induces sweat), and anti-catarrhal (removes mucous from the body) properties that herbalists use to support recovery from colds, the flu, and other lower and upper respiratory tract infections. Thyme's volatile oil constituents, particularly thymol, are antimicrobial against many different kinds of bacteria, including those involved in upper respiratory infections. Thyme is a drying herb, making it a good choice for mucous respiratory problems with productive coughs (as opposed to dry coughs).

    • Because of its antibacterial qualities, thyme is beneficial as a wound wash (in a tea or tincture form). Fresh thyme aerial parts can also be put into a poultice for cuts and wounds. Thyme can also be included in a mouthwash formulation to shield the mouth from the microorganisms that cause plaque & tooth decay.

    • Thyme's carminative properties come from the same volatile oils that give the herb its expectorant, diaphoretic, and anti-catarrhal properties. It is beneficial for bloating and gas because of its capacity to soothe the digestive tract.

      • One easy way to consume thyme’s benefits is to make a tea. Add 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme to a cup of boiling water and let sit for 5 to 8 minutes.


  • Despite being known for its delicious addition to pizza, oregano has some surprising therapeutic applications.

  • Benefits/Usage:

    • Omega-3 fatty acids, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, C, K, and E are just some of oregano's essential vitamins and minerals.

    • Because of its expectorant, diaphoretic, and antimicrobial qualities, oregano is often used when experiencing respiratory conditions like the flu and colds. If the oregano flavor is too strong, you can tone it down with chamomile, lemon balm, or peppermint. Oregano also makes a soothing after-dinner carminative tea.

    • Oregano can be used as an anti-inflammatory leaf poultice, infused in oil, turned into tea, or tincture. It can also be added to a respiratory sinus steam. Of course, it can also be used in abundance when cooking!

Homemade Fire Cider


1 large onion, chopped

3 heads garlic, chopped

1 organic lemon with peel, diced

½ cup fresh ginger root, grated

½ cup fresh turmeric root, grated

¼ cup fresh horseradish root, grated

¼ cup fresh thyme, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper

3-4 jalapeño peppers (depending on how spicy you want your fire cider)

Raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar

Honey (to taste)


  • Remember— fire cider is made to be flexible, these ingredients are a great start, but you are welcome to add any of your favorite immune boosters such as dried elderberries, cinnamon sticks, Echinacea, or Astragalus root.

  • Place all ingredients except honey in a half-gallon jar, and cover with apple cider vinegar. Cover the herbs by at least few inches, then place parchment or wax paper and cover the jar before tightly capping it.

  • Store in a warm, dark place, for a few weeks- shaking the jar daily.

  • After three weeks, your fire cider will be ready to strain, but you are welcome to let it sit for 2-3 months before straining.

  • Once the ingredients are strained from the liquid, add warmed raw honey to taste around 1/3 of cup. Shake until mixed thoroughly. Store in the refrigerator.



  • Ansary, J., Forbes-Hernández, T. Y., Gil, E., Cianciosi, D., Zhang, J., Elexpuru-Zabaleta, M., Simal-Gandara, J., Giampieri, F., & Battino, M. (2020). Potential Health Benefit of Garlic Based on Human Intervention Studies: A Brief Overview. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 9(7), 619.

  • Bayan, L., Koulivand, P. H., & Gorji, A. (2014). Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects. Avicenna journal of phytomedicine, 4(1), 1–14.


  • Bode AM, Dong Z. The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter 7. Available from:


  • Veenstra, J. P., & Johnson, J. J. (2019). Oregano (Origanum vulgare) extract for food preservation and improvement in gastrointestinal health. International journal of nutrition, 3(4), 43–52.

  • Leyva-López, N., Gutiérrez-Grijalva, E. P., Vazquez-Olivo, G., & Heredia, J. B. (2017). Essential Oils of Oregano: Biological Activity beyond Their Antimicrobial Properties. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 22(6), 989.


  • Hammoudi Halat, D., Krayem, M., Khaled, S., & Younes, S. (2022). A Focused Insight into Thyme: Biological, Chemical, and Therapeutic Properties of an Indigenous Mediterranean Herb. Nutrients, 14(10), 2104.

  • Aanmc. (2021, August 25). Naturopathic kitchen: The health benefits of thyme. AANMC. Retrieved December 12, 2022, from

  • Medicinal and functional values of thyme (thymus vulgaris L.) herb. (2017). Journal of Applied Biology & Biotechnology.

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