Pick Me Up Herbs

The winter is long in New England and many suffer from symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), especially in the months of February and March. This is partly due to the lack of sunlight and vitamin D, but it could also be deeper beneath the surface. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is Water Time and it is an important time to honor the inner self, ask deep questions, ponder what the future holds and nourish one’s reserves. A time ago, the world honored the cycles of nature and the cycles of the body, which may be ready for deep rest after the busy holidays; however, today, busy work life beckons. Try using this precious time indoors to ask what the heart may be wanting this spring, as if a seed is gestating underneath the cold damp snow, waiting to sprout. There are several herbs which restore the body and replenish the nervous system. Take advantage of these herbal allies, especially in the cold winter months, when our bodies are ready to receive yin nourishment.

Tips for uplifting the spirit this winter:

• Uplifting herbs: hawthorne, St. John’s wort, lavender, rose, tulsi, linden, lemon balm, passionflower. Nervous system restoratives: milky oats, ashwagandha, chamomile, nettles. Flower essences: borage, rose, calendula, sunflower, gorse, mustard, vervain.

• Consume mineral rich superfoods: parsley, seaweeds, spirulina, nettles, cacao, spinach, kale, mustard and dandelion greens.

• Take vitamin D daily, at least 2,000 to 5,000IU.

• Eat grass-fed animals that were raised outside because they store vitamin D in their fat cells.

• Cook with mushrooms that have been dried outside exposed to sunlight such as shiitake and maitake because they store vitamin D in their cells.

• Exercise and spend time in nature. Getting a few minutes of sun rays on the face can make a big difference with mood.

• Treasure sleep: sip a nervine tea before bed if needed.

Remember, the sun is returning and the spring equinox will take place soon.

Depression, fatigue, insomnia, lack of interest in life, brain fog and SAD may be an indicator of something deeper going on that the heart is calling out for. Our society often views sadness as weakness, but many alternative practitioners and holistic health coaches see symptoms of depression as a signal of imbalance or something ready to be born that has not yet been acknowledged. Try meditation, warm herbal baths, walking in nature, sharing with trusted friends and journaling to nurture the inner wisdom that is waiting to be seen.

Recipes for SAD symptoms and depression during winter months: Uplifting Heart-Spirit Tincture:

3 parts hawthorne leaf, berry and flower

2 parts tulsi (tulsi glycerine is delicious, too)

1 part St. John’s wort

1 part rose (rose glycerine is delicious)

½ part lavender

½ part lemon balm

Nerve Tonic Tea:

3 parts chamomile

2 parts nettles

2 parts skullcap

1 part oats

1 part passionflower

1 part lemon balm

½ part roses

½ part lavender

* Add 1 parts valerian and 1 parts hops for sleep tea

Hannah Jacobson-Hardy, founder of Sweet Birch Herbals, LLC and Full Moon Ghee, is a holistic health coach, ghee producer and community herbalist devoted to providing the region with high-quality, plant-based medicines that are locally grown and sustainably wildcrafted. Find her natural product line and learn more about her services at SweetBirchHerbals.com.

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