A gray and rainy fall followed by a long and harsh winter….a combination that is all too well known here in Quebec and that sometimes puts us to the test both physically and psychologically. Offering yourself a vacation in the sun to recharge your batteries is not always possible, but you can easily introduce certain herbal plants into your life to overcome the shortcomings of winter.
St. John’s wort, great for your morale!
Starting in November our morale usually takes a hit with the arrival of the dreary and gray weather. While for some of us the holiday season is a moment of celebration in the middle of winter, it is a real challenge for others, who often end up being exhausted. And despite the day light beginning to extend in mid-January, the seasonal depression can sometimes be felt until May. Fortunately, St. John’s wort comes to the rescue!
St. John’s wort has been shown to be effective and has been used as an antidepressant in the West since the Middle Ages. In Germany, it is officially categorized as an antidepressant and is prescribed in the same way as synthetic antidepressants.
Here in Quebec we are able to buy it in herbal stores and at the pharmacy, where a specialist will advise you on the proper ingestion of this product according to your situation.
The beneficial effects can be fully felt after about four weeks. So if you know that your seasonal depression always occurs at about the same time each year, you can start to take your cure before the symptoms appear.
An ancient plant used in Chinese medicine, ginseng (Panax) is an excellent ally in winter. It is known to stimulate the immune system, fight against fatigue and restore the ability to concentrate.
However, be aware of impostors. In French, several other medicinal plants have borrowed the name “ginseng”, but the real ginseng is the one that belongs to the genus Panax family.
Cold, cough, sore throat….it is almost impossible to get through winter without being effected by one or all of the above! Luckily, thyme, sage, lemon and ginger are here to help. Drink these plants separately or combined in an infusion, but do avoid sage if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. For those people with a sweet tooth, honey is the perfect sweetener, as it strengthens your infusion with its many beneficial properties.
The mixture of ginger, lemon and honey is a classic staple, blending antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties with a rich source of vitamin C. The combination of sage and thyme is ideal to fight coughs, sore throats and respiratory ailments.
By Émilie Coulombe, horticulturist
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