Warm Up to Winter

Combat seasonal ailments, banish the blues, squelch stress and give your energy levels a boost.

Warm Up to Winter
Pin it Dominick Guillemot

Spruce up your shower Black spruce oil is antibacterial and anti-infectious, and it supports the adrenal glands, which suffer when we get tired from the winter weather and lack of light. After showering, turn off the water and spread seven to 10 drops of black spruce oil all over your body. Make sure to rub the oil on your abdomen, where there’s a lot of lymphatic tissue. Follow this with 30 seconds of deep breathing and rinse off with cool water, and you may ward off illness all winter long. — Suzanne Catty, an aromatherapist in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and author of Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy (Healing Arts Press), now available as an e-book

Plant a winter herb garden Try indoor winter gardening with fullspectrum lamps and light bulbs. Gardening is meditative and connects us to the earth. It can really make a difference in our mood, especially at a time when we tend toward psychological hibernation. You can grow your own St. John’s Wort to ease depression, rosemary for its antioxidants or sleepenhancing herbs like valerian and hops. The seeds are widely available, and you can plant them in a box that can be transported outside once spring arrives. — Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D., Ph.D., executive director at the Coyote institute in Brattleboro, Vt., and author of Coyote Medicine: Lessons From Native American Healing (Touchstone)

Clear your sinuses This is an especially challenging time of the year for the mucous membranes because of cold outdoor temperatures, indoor air pollution (since heaters are on and windows closed) and dryness caused by forced hot-air heating systems. We breathe an average of 23,000 times a day, and if the air we’re breathing is particulate-laden and dry, the act of breathing itself creates chronic irritation to the mucous membranes and makes us more susceptible to viruses. Mucous membranes thrive and maintain a strong defense against viruses when the air is clean, moist, warm (65° F to 85° F), oxygen-rich and filled with negative ions. So use a botanical saline nasal spray, such as Sinus Survival Herbal Nasal Spray (, which contains saline along with four medicinal herbs, every two to three hours throughout the day, especially in heavily polluted and dry conditions. It keeps the mucous membrane moist, washes out inhaled particles and has antiinflammatory, antiviral and antifungal properties. I also recommend a highly medicinal eucalyptus oil, which you can inhale from a tissue held over your nose or through a steam inhaler. — Robert Ivker, D.O., co-founder and past president of the American Board of integrative Holistic medicine, author of Sinus Survival: The Holistic Medical Treatment For Sinusitis, Allergies, and Colds (Tarcher) and founder and medical director of Fully Alive Medicine in Boulder, Colo. (

Sing (or play) a song The best blues fighter I know is a blues harp—a harmonica, your voice or an instrument of your choice. Just start playing it and saying it through your music: Wail out all of your feelings in song, be real about it and feel the beauty of the sound of truth passing through you, and you will wash those blues away. — Alan M. Dattner, M.D., integrative dermatologist at Holistic Dermatology ( in New York City and Westchester, N.Y.