Health Matters – Healthy Holidays

The holiday spirit is everywhere: bows and wrapping, lights galore, and seasonal music piped into malls. The topic of health doesn’t come up too often, unless we’re joking about how many cookies we ate at the party. It may come as a surprise, then, that several holiday traditions have a connection to the world of natural healing.

Christmas Trees

It’s possible that one of the most popular holiday traditions is the Christmas tree, breaking cultural boundaries and inspiring songs describing the wonder and excitement of this light-studded greenery.

But did you know that the aroma of fresh pine needles has medicinal benefits? Pine oil, responsible for the characteristic scent, is composed of medicinally beneficial chemical compounds called phenols. In aromatherapy, a volatile oil offers therapeutic potential in the air it disperses into, and phenols are no exception. The scent from a pine tree is antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic. For this reason, the ?old wives?? prescription for lung patients was to spend time living in a pine-dominated forest.

If your Christmas tree isn’t pine, don’t worry; other coniferous trees, like spruce, have similar medicinal benefits!

Holly and Berries

Another popular Christmas emblem is the holly plant, with its sharply indented, shiny green leaves and clusters of bright berries. What’s so healthy about holly? Medicinally, holly has been used in indigenous cultures for a variety of purposes, including reducing persistent water retention and lowering high fevers. Although holly is rarely used now medicinally due to its potentially toxic side effects, its vivid colours have a healing component in themselves. In Chinese medicine, certain colours are considered to be energetically positive, which means the green of the holly is soothing as well as energetically beneficial for the liver. Red, like the holly’s berries, is traditionally thought to be energetically healing for heart conditions.

Apple Cider

It’s hard to top the taste of a glass of hot apple cider mulled with spices, especially on a cold winter evening. Apple cider can offer a vitamin-packed way to celebrate the holidays, boosting levels of vitamins C, A, and K in your body. Additionally, the spices It’s paired with?cinnamon and cloves?have warming properties, promoting healthy blood circulation (vital in cold weather!). Additionally, cinnamon has blood sugar balancing properties, which tempers the effect of the apples? sweetness.

Wishing all my readers a peaceful, relaxing holiday season–and the very best of health in the New Year!

Katie D’Souza is an AU graduate and a licensed naturopathic doctor. She currently practices in Ontario.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for personal interest only; it is not intended for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. Readers are always encouraged to seek the professional advice of a licensed physician or qualified health care practitioner for personal health or medical conditions.

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