Winter Medicine Chest + Recipes

It’s so important to have a natural medicine apothecary on hand at home or while you travel. This is typically an eclectic mix of herbs, teas, essential oils, supplements, homeopathy, and topicals. I love the idea that I have this “toolbox” that can prevent and treat common imbalances, pathogens, and accidents so that they don’t turn into emergencies; or stabilize a situation before seeking more triage-oriented care. And, I would love to share some of these strategies with you, such as:

  • Spices that can help with respiratory support steams
  • Elderberry syrup – make your own to prepare for the winter cold and flu system
  • Simple teas to soothe a fussy feverish child
  • Assessing, evaluating, and treating home falls and accidents
  • What herbal capsules, powders, and teas are my must-haves

Winter is upon us, which means viruses and pathogens abound in full force. Take a breath first… nothing good happens when we are anxious and confused. Instead, let’s learn how to prepare your home with simple items to treat common imbalances and sometimes prevent disease processes from progressing. It’s fun and empowering to be prepared.

Tea and Tea Bags go a Long Way:

  • Chamomile – Bitter; Digestive; Calming; a “go to” for every kind of imbalance in kids and digestive/stress related imbalances in adults. Can be cooled and applied to the eyes for dry eyes or non-bacterial inflammation.
  • Peppermint: Lowers fevers; soothes the tummy; for headaches – soak a wet washcloth; apply to back of neck and put feet in hot water
  • Ginger: Soothes digestive upset; warms in the case of colds; combine with lemon and honey
  • Throat Coat Tea by Traditional Medicinals- original with Slippery Elm. Soothes a sore throat and prevents gastric reflex symptoms when eaten before the meal.
  • Lemon Balm: cooling; in the mint family; Soothes irritability in fever. New research has pointed to its role as a brain tonic
  • Echinacea/Elderberry or Passiflora’s “Fight Those Germs”
  • Favorite children blend for illness: Lemon Balm, Chamomile Catnip- to relax and reduce fever
  • Favorite blend to reduce fever: peppermint, yarrow, elderflower
  • Favorite brands: Rishi Organic, Gaia, Traditional Medicinals; Organic India; Harney and sons; Pukka

Remember, fever is important and kills pathogens
Or, check out our bulk herb apothecary; and let us recommend the teas for your family wellness this winter

Let’s Venture to the Spice Cabinet:

  • Rosemary, Thyme- great for steams for colds
  • Fennel, Cumin, and Coriander- to reduce digestive upset
  • Thyme, Sage- great tea or gargle for sore throats
  • You do have time to cut an infection off at the pass:
    • Gargle; Steam; hot/cold foot soak; Rest; Nutritive Fluids- veggie/miso broths; bone broths

Water Plays a Powerful Role in Our Wellness in the Use of Hot and Cold Water:

  • To increase heat shock protein and cut any viral illness in its tracks – alternate 20 minutes at 101 degrees F and 30 seconds in an ice bath
  • Wet sock treatment- Ask us about the whys and hows.

Essential Oils:

  • Lavender is a powerhouse: anti-microbial, relaxing and can applied to cuts and scraps
  • Eucalyptus
  • Rosemary
  • Pine, Spruce
  • Cleansing of the air: White sage, Palo Santo
  • Uplifting: Grapefruit, Lime, Lemon, Mandarin Orange
  • Most essential oil companies make a version of the anti-microbial 4 thieves blend that supports anti-microbial compounds in the air
  • Invest in a good diffuser that will hold up over years and is easy to clean
  • Alex Bailey, LMT, is a good resource to purchase high quality essential oils


  • Fire Cider – see one recipe below or purchase our latest batch
  • Ginger
  • Garlic (can chop and let sit in the air for 15 minutes; combine with honey or applesauce  at the first sign of illness)
  • Elderberry syrup- make your own or purchase wonderful brands such as Gaia from out apothecary
  • Broths: Chicken, Bone broth, Miso, Veggie (or create your own immune broth containing dried mushrooms and herbs- ask us how to do it


  • Peppermint, Fennel, Ginger as described above
  • Activated charcoal or carob powder (if you have a diarrheal imbalance)
  • Trace Mineral Packs or Emergen-Cs (or know how to make a home electrolyte solution)
  • Applesauce
  • Goldenseal tincture


  • Rescue Remedy
  • Arnica homeopathic pellets – 30 C;200 C
  • Arnica topical (in oil or Homeopathic creams)
  • Turmeric and ginger to make Golden Milk
  • Herbal Styptics – stop bleeding: yarrow; cayenne, cinammon – put on wound and wash out with water (never near face or mucus membranes)
  • Epsom salts baths with 2 cups of epsom salts
  • Topical for wounds: calendula cream

Anti-Viral – Other Prevention and Treatment

  • Vit D3 – 5000 IUs in the winter for most people
  • Liposomal Vitamin C
  • Zinc rich foods and Zinc at a maintenance dose of 30 mg for most people
  • N-acetyl cysteine
  • Quercetin Phtyosome – also great for allergic reactions
  • Antiviral cough tincture – designed for each patient from a fully stocked and curated tincture apothecary
  • Viracon by Vital Nutrients
  • Astragalus or Jade Windscreen- to prevent or recover
  • A high-quality probiotic such as those by Klaire, Udos or Megafood

Don’t forget anti-inflammatory diet (no sugar or alcohol); extra sleep and rest (even after better), sleep, deep breathing (and gargling, steaming, water treatments as described above). Food as medicine is powerful with lots of probiotic rich foods, healthy full fats, blue and purple foods rich in proanthocyanins (blueberries etc); and simple teas such as lemon balm, milky oats and chamomile.

 Ellen’s Adaptogenic FIRE CIDER 

I was first introduced to Fire Cider about a decade ago by a friend who had been making it for four years and in that time had not had a single cold. I personally have a “hot” constitution so I am not one of those people who can take it daily. But if I feel a wet, cold condition coming on (fire cider is very drying), I will take it a few times and usually within a day it knocks out the infection. I make it fresh every fall with my students and they say its one of their favorite classes. When the yearly batch has finished steeping, I strain out the vegetables and spices and I use them in a stir fry with carrots and cabbage. I have used fire cider to baste chicken and have added it to salads in the dead of winter as a spicy and warming vinegar. Here is my basic recipe. Note that with astragalus, you should look for the yellow roots (not the pale white or beige ones) those are the good ones. 

  • • ½ cup grated ginger root, including the peel 
  • • ½ cup grated horseradish root 
  • • 4 fresh turmeric roots, chopped 
  • • 1 burdock root, chopped 
  • • 2-3 slices (lengthwise) astragalus root 
  • • 2 tablespoons cut-and-sifted Siberian ginseng (eleuthero) 
  • • 2 tablespoons elderberries 
  • • 2 tablespoons rose hips 
  • • Zest and juice of 1 lemon 
  • • Zest of 1 orange 
  • • 1 onion, chopped 
  • • 12 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • • 2 hot peppers, minced 
  • • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns 
  • • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper 
  • • Apple cider vinegar 
  • • ¼ cup honey (preferably raw and local) 

Put all the roots, fruits, herbs, and spices in a glass jar and pour in enough apple cider vinegar to just barely cover everything. Screw on a non-metallic lid (or a metal lid covered with waxed paper to keep the vinegar away from the metal), shake well, and let the jar sit in a cool, dark place. Shake every few days to distribute the ingredients. After the fire cider steeps for a month, strain out the solids and stir in the honey. 

We are here to answer your questions with our apothecary of bulk herbs, teas, tinctures, topicals, and supplements. Remember, Food is the first medicine! If you want more details, schedule a consultation or just drop in to ask Dr. Karen how best to support your health with your Home Medicine Chest.

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