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It’s a time of transition, when we’re more vulnerable to colds and other acute infections, and old problems tend to resurface.

Bones ache where they were once broken; old emotional wounds make themselves felt again. Sometimes you don’t recognise the root cause, but if you feel unsettled at this time of year, or low for no apparent reason, it may be that something from the past is calling for your attention.

This is where herbal tonics come into their own. Adaptogens like Withania or the ginsengs will help you to weather the storms, and emerge stronger, ready to face the winter. A course of about six weeks of Siberian or Korean ginseng is ideal, and other adaptogens can be taken for longer. Korean ginseng is better if you have some physical challenge to face, an exam to pass or an ordeal to undergo. Siberian ginseng is less muscular, giving a steadying hand rather than a shove.

And there are the mushroom tonics I talked about last week, and many others; some specific to particular types of illness, and others more general. For example, a lot of people are prone to chest infections at this time of year or a little later. If you recognise this pattern, you can help to ward it off by taking the right tonics now: herbs like Elecampane, Angelica, Liquorice and Thyme, to name a few. And of course, immune stimulants like Echinacea, Calendula or Andrographis are always a good idea.

If you start to feel depressed as the daylight wanes, try St. Johns Wort, Borage or Gotu Kola now, before you get in too deep. And if aches and pains make you dread the winter, use warming anti-inflammatories like Rosemary, Yarrow, Feverfew or Blackcurrant bud. Prevention is always better than cure, and now is the time to take preventive action.

Meet The Author...
Su Bristow
Who Am I?
I studied at the School of Herbal Medicine for four years, and qualified in 1989, becoming a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists ( The road to herbal medicine led from my early interest in organic gardening and healthy eating, through the study of social and physical anthropology at Cambridge, where I specialised in medical anthropology. What fascinated me was how people deal with their health problems when they have only the natural resources around them, and their own ingenuity. I went on to learn massage and reflexology, and worked at a residential naturopathic clinic, where I learned about the use of diet and other natural ways of healing. After qualifying as a herbalist, I set up practice in mid-Devon. Since then I have continued to expand my expertise, with counselling skills, first aid, and knowledge of the Chinese and Ayurvedic systems of herbal medicine. Besides one-to-one consultation, I have also taught evening classes, students of the Westcountry Massage Association, and various private courses.
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