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Winter Wellness: Looking after Mums, Dads and Caregivers

Winter Wellness: Looking after Mums, Dads and Caregivers

Winter Wellness

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About the Author

Asti Renaut

Asti Renaut (BHSc. Comp Med, BA, Adv Dip Nat, Adv Dip Herb Med, MNZAMH)

Asti Renaut is a degree-qualified medical herbalist and naturopath with over ten years clinical experience. Asti practices in Christchurch, New Zealand, treating a wide range of health issues. She especially enjoys working with infants and children, and finally has one of her own to practice on! One of the cornerstones of Asti's practice and philosophy is the importance of education and sharing information. She believes that empowering clients to understand their own bodies and health, and giving practical tips and tools to use from the garden and kitchen are just as important for wellness as qualified professional care. 

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There is much focus on how to look after our little ones through the winter months, and with good reason, but what about parents? As all parents know, keeping yourself well is essential to keeping the family running efficiently. As one Mum said to me yesterday; “If I fall over, we all fall over!”. 

We have written elsewhere about the specifics of supporting our immune system, and the absolute beauty of herbal medicines in their capacity to not just kill bugs, but to actually prevent illness. Herbs such as Echinacea and Olive Leaf are prime examples of phyto-medicines that support good immunity. 

Parents, however, can be especially vulnerable! Whether it is the vast array of bugs your toddler is bringing home from pre-school, the sleep deprivation of having a new baby in the house, or just the constant demands of juggling the needs of all the members of your family, there is no doubt that there are specific pressures that you face as a parent that can compromise the robustness of your immune system. 

Herbal medicine offers support to reduce the effects of stress on your immune system and general well-being. Withania belongs to a group of herbs that we collectively call ‘adaptogens’, because of their proven ability to help our bodies adapt better to stressful situations. Withania specifically lowers blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol, producing a calming effect. Clinical trials have shown that Withania can improve stamina, endurance, resistance to stress, and have a positive influence on sleep patterns. It can also improve the production of white blood cells, which are the cells involved in immune defence. Traditionally Withania has been used to overcome exhaustion and depletion – states that may sound familiar to many parents- we often joke that we should just add Withania to the water supply!

Lemon Balm is another herb that is soothing to the nervous system, calming the mind and relaxing tension. For those who are having a difficult time sleeping, one of the strongest sedatives in our herbal tool-kit is Valerian. Valerian helps with both sleep onset insomnia (getting to sleep), and sleep maintenance insomnia (staying asleep). So if you have finally managed to help your children sleep through the night, now it’s your turn!

As we have said before, prevention is better than cure. Nourishing our bodies and supporting our natural defences with herbal medicines enables us to be better, stronger, more vital parents, and as the old saying goes, “if Mum’s happy, everyone’s happy!”.