Winter wellness through nutritional therapy and herbal medicine

Nutritional Therapist Gwen Bastian-Enright and Medical Herbalist Geri McGann of The Beara Holistic Clinic explain how Nutritional Therapy and Herbal Medicine provide the opportunity for individuals to not only address health problems holistically but support the systems in the body to function as effectively as possible daily.  

Specifically, both approaches (both individually and combined) can help to support your immune system through these changing seasons and to be resilient from and respond correctly to, an infection (bear in mind that multiple colds in a year are totally normal!). 

There are two ways to support the immune system:

1. Support your gut microbiome (all the bacteria in your digestive system) and promote good ‘digestive fire’.

2. Include the key nutrients for immune support through diet or supplements. 

Nutritionally two simple tips to supporting your gut microbiome: 

a) Eat a rainbow every day, choose one to two from yellow, green, orange, red, blue/ black/ purple and white/tan/brown. A simple way is to include a soup or stew, add some fruit to breakfast, swap to wholegrains and have lentils/ chickpeas/ beans a few tims a week

b) Include some probiotic/ fermented foods (these have bacteria in them) every day, such as drinking kombucha instead of fizzy drinks, add some kefir to your breakfast, add a small bowl of miso soup to lunch, serve sandwiches on sourdough bread, swap to natural yoghurt or try some sauerkraut

From a herbal perspective including spices in the diet will aid digestion, as well as encouraging immunity. Three to include are:

• Ginger is a warming digestive which removes the accumulation of toxins in the gut, thus supporting the immune system. 

• Cinnamon combats candida and other gut pathogens and enhances the effectiveness of insulin. It’s great paired with stewed apples or to porridge a lift. 

• Garlic a natural probiotic, it stimulates digestion and absorption. Its antimicrobial properties help restore gut flora after infection.

To support your immune system directly, vitamins C, D and A are key – including orange fruit and vegetables (serve with source of fat to optimise absorption) daily can really help with A and C, but in Ireland, between October and April we do need to supplement Vitamin D and dosages of 1-2000iU (international units) are generally considered safe for all adults. Though the best way to know what dose you need is to get a blood test and supplement accordingly. 

Herbs work in a number of ways with the immune system from increasing the production of macrophages – cells that the immune system sends to digest invaders to stimulating the production of defence substances to protect non-infected cells.

• Siberian ginseng* has actions that directly affect the immune system, helping against infections including coughs and colds.

•  Ashwagandha* is what we call an adaptogen helping the body to deal with stress, promoting energy and vitality.

• Reishi mushrooms* provide good longer term immunity support as well as being a cardio tonic

*Always consult your local herbalist before taking herbs. 

Finally, minerals like zinc and selenium are important for immune health and you can obtain these from Brazil nuts, shellfish, seeds and beans. There are specific immune supporting supplements available too, talk to Gwen or your health shop to find out more. For herbal support talk to Geri.

The Beara Holistic Clinic, located in the Bantry Bay area of West Cork, specialises in Herbal Medicine and Nutritional Therapy. They provide the opportunity for individuals to address health problems holistically, in a safe, supportive, and professional environment. Both Geri and Gwen are professionally trained and fully qualified healthcare practitioners. To find out more visit their website or their Instagram page thebearaholisticclinic.

Gwen’s main focus is women’s health, from menstrual cycle health and awareness to specific conditions like fibroids and endometriosis. Gwen also helps couples with fertility, getting pregnant, supporting post-partum recovery and family nutrition. For a free nutritional therapy 20 min consultation at either of Gwen’s Kenmare or Bantry Clinics, call 087 657 8307 or email: 

Combining ancient tradition, clinical experience and modern scientific research, herbal medicine is a safe and highly effective form of treatment for many health problems, including: Asthma and other respiratory issues; Common Cold, Coughs, and Flu; Poor circulation, varicose veins; Depression, anxiety and sleep; Digestive disorders such as IBS; Headaches and migraines; Hormonal imbalances, Irregular periods, PMT, perimenopausal/menopausal symptoms; Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia; Skin problems e.g., dermatitis, eczema and acne

To arrange a consultation call or WhatsApp Geri on 087 326 9122.

WCP Staff

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