Winter: A Time for Introversion – As featured in WILD

Winter: A Time for Introversion

We sit down with naturopath and Organic Merchant founder, Chalimah Jeanne, to talk slowing down, turning inward and boosting your immunity this winter: a time for introversion.

From Wild Magazine

SunriseChalimah, when did you first become interested in health and wellness? 

I’ve always been drawn to nature, even as a little girl. I grew up in a remote coastal town in Western Australia which instilled in me immense reverence for the earth’s natural beauty and cycles of life.

I find the role that nature plays in health and wellbeing inspiring and realised early in life that my purpose was to facilitate health and healing while respecting and nurturing our planet. This led to me studying horticulture and naturopathy to combine my passion for plants and utilising their empirical, clinical and scientific teachings.

After completing my studies, I started to create tea blends for my clients. Given they would be drinking these regularly to support their health, two other factors came to mind — taste and sustainability. In a short period, my teas became quite popular, all through word of mouth. I realised I wanted others to benefit outside of my clinic from the healing properties of my teas, so I began selling them at Paddington market in Sydney on the weekends.

Then in 2011, Organic Merchant was founded. I started with 12 tea blends and now have over 52 teas along with ethically sourced cacao, bath soaks and tea wares. Our teas and cacao are 100 per cent certified organic and all our packaging is sustainable.

What are your top tips for increasing immunity this winter?

Immune Support

Your immune system is complex and has many ways to protect your body against diseases. There are a number of ways you can support your immune system, such as maintaining good hygiene and nutrition, and incorporating healthy activities and managing stress. Plants and herbs can also help your body’s immune system and your overall health through:

  • Immune activity — certain herbs show affinity to stimulate, modulate or enhance one or more aspects of the body’s innate immune response and therefore assist in minimising the severity and duration of certain conditions.
  • Decongestant actions — certain herbs have compounds that can help to remove congestion from mucous membranes of the respiratory system.
  • Antimicrobial activity — extracts of certain plants have been shown to have antibacterial and antiviral properties and may protect against certain bacteria and viruses.
  • Demulcent and anti-inflammatory actions — some plants have compounds to soothe inflamed and irritated surfaces such as the skin and mucous membranes, including the respiratory system.
  • Antioxidant activity — antioxidants are compounds found in many plants that help prevent oxidative ‘free radical’ damage caused to the immune system. Certain vitamins, minerals and plant phytochemicals demonstrate antioxidant activity.

Plants for ImmunityImmune Tea Jar and box hero

As cooler months approach, evidence suggests plants and herbs can support immunity. We have included them in our tea, cacao, and bath soak products. Some specific herbs that support immunity include:

  • Ginger — studies of ginger show it has both antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects that may provide protection against chronic diseases and cancer. A review of studies on ginger provides evidence of its anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Elderberries — this fruit contains phytochemicals that may help minimise the effects of viral infections. A 2019 study at Sydney University indicates an antiviral effect of elderberries against influenza symptoms.
  • Echinacea — a plant often made into preparations to fight colds and flu symptoms through its immunostimulant effect.
  • Ashwagandha — sometimes called ‘Indian Ginseng’, this plant has adaptogen effects that help protect against stress.
  • Astragalus — this herb has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine for its immunomodulator, apoptogenic and antioxidant activities.
  • Reishi and Shiitake — traditional Chinese medicine has long used both medicinal mushrooms for their immune-modulating, adaptogenic, antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Turmeric — plant compounds in turmeric have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and
    antiviral properties.
  • Rosehip — this plant is very high in Vitamin C and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. A meta-analysis of studies on rosehip powder demonstrated it may have a role to play in reducing arthritic pain.

What products in the Organic Merchant range focus on boosting immunity?

In our wellness tea range, we recommend our Immune Tea, Lemongrass and Ginger Tea and Golden Turmeric Tea. Our Immune Tea is a fortifying tisane combining soothing floral mint tones with vitalising citrus notes and a touch of ginger spice. The naturopathic formulations of these teas have traditional benefits that support and fortify the immune system. The plant compounds are decongestant, antioxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. This can naturally aid respiratory infections, ease congestion and inflammation, shorten duration and severity, and enhance recovery and resistance.

In our cacao range, Spark Dust may support immunity as one of its key ingredients is reishi mushroom. People traditionally use this popular medicinal mushroom to support the immune system and promote healing. Another ingredient, Astragalus, protects the immune system, prevents colds, lowers blood pressure, treats diabetes, and protects the liver.

In our bath range, we recommend Vivifica to support immunity; it’s a revitalising, mineral-rich aroma-balneotherapy treatment created to fortify the immune system, decongest blockages and relieve tired muscles, aches and pains. This aromatic blend delivers a therapeutic dose of certified organic oils including eucalyptus, tea tree, rosemary, lavender, ginger, lemon, cedarwood and peppermint.

In addition, we formulated our Sel de Mer thalassotherapy treatment with marine minerals, deep sea kelp, blue-green algae, and essential oils to fortify immunity.

We often forget that our skin is our largest organ and the combination of tea, cacao and a mineral bath soak ensure we are supporting immunity from the inside out as well as the outside in.

What are some of your favourite winter activities?

Taking cues from nature, winter is a time for introversion, a time to turn inward, physically, mentally and spiritually. It’s a time to slow down, eat wholesome warm nourishing foods such as soups, broths, pickles, ferments and teas. Seek out grounding herbs and foods such as root vegetables and apoptogenic herbal roots like ashwagandha, ginseng and liquorice. It’s a great opportunity to recultivate and rebuild your inner biome by including probiotics and prebiotic foods. Winter is the time to revisit gentle activities and subtle body movements. Yin yoga is a lovely winter practice, as are breathing techniques or simply dancing and laughing in the kitchen.

It is a time to celebrate the inner life of the mind, broaden and stretch our mental capacity. As such, it’s the perfect time to create the space to hold our thoughts, feelings and moods with compassion. It’s a time for gratitude and reflection on the lessons of this last cycle.

This time of introversion is an invitation to embody the stillness and wisdom of the winter earth. It lets us reflect, restore and rebuild our internal fires in readiness to emerge into the vibrancy of spring.