Family Focus: Winter Wellness using natural remedies

I recently picked up the Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford and was reminded of how inspiring his writing is. I used to use this book all the time – in work and at home, for family health queries, for research – but somehow over the last while I’ve slipped out of the habit of referring to books in favour of online research. Sometimes though this can mean we bounce from trend to trend and end up forgetting the basics of good health.

In terms of winter wellness, we know that prevention is the best thing to focus on, but what does prevention mean? In my opinion, it’s about listening to your body, making sure you are eating well and conserving your energy, as it’s much easier to recover from a cold or flu if you are well nourished and well rested. In terms of foods or supplements, in my experience there’s no one magic bullet that takes care of all our immunity needs – it’s more about finding that combination that suits you and your family. 

Here’s my top winter wellness tips: 

1. Prioritise rest and get enough sleep – personally this is my number one priority. if you can, build downtime into your week, naps in the middle of the day, and get to bed as early as possible during the week. Patrick says “Get plenty of sleep to allow the body to restore and repair itself. You should be aiming for at least seven hours a night (for good immunity).” 

2. Optimise your diet – If you feel under the weather, he advices “eat lightly, making sure to get enough protein, which is needed to build immune cells, and keep warm”. If you are prone to mucus-related infections, reduce dairy. 

3. Stay hydrated – Patrick says “Hydrated bodies are less prone to catching bugs. Water also flushes toxins out of your system and is particularly good for preventing urine infections and kidney stones”. Personally I drink herb teas and hot lemon when I’m feeling under the weather, rather than coffee and black tea. 

4. Increase vitamin C and zinc – Patrick says Vitamin C is an incredible antiviral agent. Viruses cannot survive in a vitamin-c rich environment – Research shows Vitamin C reduces your chances of getting a cold, as well as the severity and duration if you do catch one. I take two grams every morning but if I feel something coming, I take another gram every hour (decrease if this gives you loose stools). I keep this up till I’m out of the woods. The Vitamin C supplement I take is called ImmuneC, it’s Patrick’s formula and contains Zinc, which is one of the most important immune-boosting minerals, helping to fight infections. 

5. Don’t forget your vitamin D – after the damp summer we’ve had, it’s a good idea to take vitamin D in supplement form. I give my family a supplement every day – 1000iu for the kids and 4000iu for myself and my partner.

6. Eat lots of garlic – garlic contains Allicin, a substance that is anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial. It also acts as an antioxidant, being high in sulphur-containing amino acids. Garlic is an important ally in fighting infractions, and Patrick refers to research showing that garlic eaters have the lowest incidence of cancers and garlic and it also helps to manage cholesterol levels naturally. I take Kyolic Garlic every day, an organic aged-garlic supplement from a company called Quest, and I also add it to all my salad dressings, soups and use it wherever I can in family meals. 

7. Have elderberry extracts on standby – Patrick says “Viruses get into body cells by puncturing their walls with tiny spikes made of a substance called hemagglutinin. Black elderberry disarms these spikes by binding to them and preventing them from penetrating the cell membrane”. Elderberry has been shown to prevent infections taking hold, so it’s good to have at home so you can start using it as soon as you feel that tickle on your throat. I suggest giving it daily to children who are more susceptible to colds. It comes in syrup form – we have a lovely Irish one from wild foraged berries (Wild Irish Foragers), and Sambucol. There’s also a certain amount of black elderberry in Patrick’s ImmuneC. 

8. Echinacea is a great all-rounder with antiviral and antibacterial properties, and can be taken as preventative or treatment. One of our favourites is a Hot Drink containing Echinacea and Elderberry from A.Vogel – it’s a very handy two in one you can take off the spoon or add to hot water. We also get really good feedback from the Echinacea and Sage Throat Spray from A.Vogel, the sage is soothing and gives immediate relief from throat pain and the echinacea helps to throw the infection off. 

9. Make a Carrageen Moss cough syrup – at the first hint of a cough in our house, we make a syrup from carrageen moss (we use the dry seaweed), organic lemon juice and local honey. You can find the recipe on our blog. It’s soothing, contains lots of minerals including zinc and iodine, and has calming properties making it good for irritating nighttime coughs. You can also buy Sea Moss gels now to make it even easier to take. 

10. Add in the good bacteria – in the form of kefir, live yoghurt, or supplements. I give my kids Pro-ven ‘Fit For School’ every day, it’s a combination of probiotics in a strawberry flavoured chewable tablet that boosts immunity. 

11. Oregano oil – this is what I take if I feel like I’m coming down with something – I like to take it in drop form, in oatmilk, as it’s easier to take that way. Oregano oil is very strong, and you need to find a supplement suitable for internal use. It’s high in antioxidants and has been shown to deactivate viruses and pathogenic bacteria. I wouldn’t take this every day, rather I use it when I need something really powerful to stop a virus in its tracks. 

12. Magic miso – Lastly, embrace miso, a fermented savoury paste that makes a vegan broth packed with immune benefits. Combine it with ginger, garlic, and spring onions for a nourishing and warming soup. You’ll find a range of different misos in your local health food shop, and if you have a jar in your cupboard you can make a warming mug in minutes. 

October 20 per cent off offers in Organico

Keeping you and your family healthy in winter can be an expensive business so we have negotiated special 20 per cent October discounts for you – for the whole month we have 20 per cent off Patrick Holford’s ImmuneC, A.Vogel Herbal Tinctures, all Terranova supplements, as well as all Viridian supplements, Nature’s Plus, Wild Nutrition and many more. You can shop online at or with us In Bantry, whichever suits you. If you need advice, call in, we love to chat about natural health! 

Marilyn Glenville visits Bantry in October 

We are thrilled to have Marilyn back in Bantry on Monday October 23 for a live talk on balancing hormones. When we asked our instagram community what topic to choose, Balancing Hormones Naturally came top of the list. It’s a great topic, as it covers women’s health issues from PMS to fertility to Menopause and even after menopause. Tickets are on sale on 

Hope to see you there!

Hannah Dare

Hannah Dare co-runs Organico, the café, bakery and health shop in Bantry, West Cork.

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