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This time of year is filled with more than its share of health-sapping pitfalls. But you can fight back. Get prepared with natural winter remedies to solve any holiday health problem. Designate a drawer or corner of a cabine—or, if you’re traveling, buy a cosmetics bag or fishing tackle box, and organize smaller servings into zippered snack bags.
Winter Remedies for Digestion Problems
Causes of holiday digestive issues:
Deep-fried turkey, bacon-wrapped everything, oversized portions, and the almost-complete absence of fiber in holiday fare.
What are the best winter remedies for indigestion?
- Digestive enzymes. Look for a blend that contains a spectrum of enzymes, especially amylase, protease, and lipase. If you’re sensitive to beans, choose one that has alpha-galactosidase; for dairy, look for enzymes with lactase.
- Ginger. For nausea, as little as 1/4 tsp. can reduce symptoms by 40 percent. Stock up on ginger tea or capsules. Or try candied ginger for fast digestive relief: soak in a jar of water to remove excess sugar, then drain, rinse, and store in the fridge.
- Heartburn remedies. To take the burn out of a heavy meal, choose teas with a combination of ginger, licorice, slippery elm, fennel, or marshmallow. If you know you’re prone to reflux, look for capsules or tablets designed to protect the esophagus.
Winter Remedies for Cuts, Burns, and Other Injuries
Causes of holiday injuries:
Holiday baking burns, chopping onions in a hurry, icy sidewalks, and glass ornaments that break when you look at them the wrong way. Plus, you forgot the sun still shines (and burns) when you’re snowboarding.
What are the best topical remedies for injuries?
- Aloe vera. Look for topical gels or ointments with at least 99 percent aloe vera gel to ease the pain from burns or sunburn, and help prevent scarring.
- Arnica. For bruises and falls, or aches and pains after a strenuous ski weekend, rub arnica gel into all affected areas. Add homeopathic arnica tablets or pellets for extra relief.
- Sunscreen. Look for one with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as the primary ingredients, and steer clear of oxybenzone, octinoxate, or avobenzone, For added protection, choose foundations, eye creams, lip balms, powders, and lotions that contain natural sunscreens, and buy small sizes to tuck into travel kits.
Winter Remedies for Headaches
Holiday headache causes:
High-octane eggnog, the open bar at the cocktail party, a houseful of relatives who’ve turned the volume up to migraine-inducing levels, dehydration (coffee doesn’t count toward your eight glasses per day of water).
Best natural treatments for headaches:
- Hangover cures. Choose a combination formula designed to replenish nutrients depleted during a bout of holiday cheer. Look for those with B vitamins, N-acetyl cysteine, antioxidants, and herbs traditionally used for hangovers. Wash them down with lots of water to curb dehydration.
- Butterbur. Studies show that this herb can reduce the incidence of migraines by as much as 50 percent. Choose tablets, capsules, or tinctures labeled “PA free,” meaning they don’t contain compounds called pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can harm the liver.
- White willow bark. It’s rich in a compound called salicin, a chemical that’s similar to acetylsalicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin. Look for it in tablets, tinctures, or as a powdered herb; if you’re allergic to aspirin, check with your doctor before using.
Winter Remedies for Colds and Flu
What causes of winter colds and flus?
Airline travel, a stress-burdened immune system, or lack of sunshine (i.e., vitamin D). Plus, everyone’s sneezing in your face.
What are the best natural cold and flu remedies?
- Oscillococcinum. This homeopathic remedy is highly effective, but safe enough for children. Several studies show that it can decrease the severity and duration of flu-related symptoms within 48 hours. Take it at the very first sign of illness for maximum results.
- Zinc. It’s essential for immune cell function, and even mild deficiencies can suppress your body’s defenses. Studies show that 70 mg per day taken within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms can alleviate cough, sore throat, and fever.
- Cough remedies. Cough syrups made with standardized elderberry extract also have anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects. Stock up on lozenges made with elderberry, zinc, and slippery elm to soothe irritated throat membranes.
Natural Remedies for Winter Skin
What causes dry skin in winter?
Cold weather, dry indoor heating, too-hot baths, itchy wool clothing, and a diet that’s based primarily on latkes and peppermint bark.
What are the best dry skin treatments?
- Moringa oil. It’s high in fatty acids and nutrients to heal itchy, dry skin fast. Bonus: it also contains analgesic compounds that ease pain and inflammation, and can be used for burns and rashes. Apply directly to skin, or add to a warm (not hot) bath for soaking.
- Collagen. Studies show that it improves skin moisture and elasticity (plus, it’s great for dry winter hair). Look for hydrolyzed collagen in capsules, gummies, and concentrated elixirs, or add a scoop of collagen powder to morning smoothies.
- Super-rich creams. Set aside your normal lotion, and invest in a heavy-duty cream, salve, or balm. Look for products with ingredients like neem, calendula, rose, green tea, vitamin E, and plant oils to seal moisture into skin, soothe itching, and heal inflammation.
Winter Remedies for Stress
Why are we stressed during the holidays?
Last-minute holiday shopping, money worries, disrupted sleep, and way too many late-night parties.
What are the best stress remedies?
- Ashwagandha. This powerful adaptogen supports the body’s natural ability to handle holiday stress. Studies show that it can decrease tension and anxiety by as much as 57 percent. Look for it as a standardized extract in capsules or tinctures.
- Melatonin. If stress is keeping you up at night, melatonin can help. Studies show that 1–3 mg significantly increases sleep time and quality. It’s especially useful for normalizing sleep after airline travel. Look for it as a sublingual for enhanced absorption and availability.