7 Best herbs to cook with during winter.

Small bowels of differnet coloured dried herbs with spoons nect to them

Herb and flower selection used in natural herbal medicine with mortar and pestle over distressed wooden background. Selective Focus.

1. Ginger (Sheng Jiang):

A rhizome of fresh ginger, next to 2 pieces or cut ginger and some dried podered ginger

Ginger – raw, cut and dried powdered forms

– Properties: Pungent, warm
– Meridians: Spleen, Stomach, Lung
– Benefits: Ginger has been cherished for centuries for its culinary and medicinal properties. Its pungent taste and warming nature make it an excellent remedy for cold conditions. In TCM, it’s used to stimulate digestion, alleviate nausea, and promote sweating to expel pathogens. Ginger can be grated and added to stir-fries, soups, and teas, or brewed into a potent decoction for medicinal purposes.

2. Cinnamon (Rou Gui):


sticks of cinnamon

A group of sticks of cinnamon

– Properties: Pungent, sweet, hot
– Meridians: Kidney, Spleen, Heart
– Benefits: Cinnamon is not only a beloved spice for its rich flavour but also a valuable herbal remedy in TCM. Its sweet and spicy taste imparts warmth and vitality, making it ideal for dispelling cold and improving circulation. Cinnamon is often used to alleviate cold extremities, menstrual cramps, and digestive discomfort. It can be added to baked goods, and desserts, or simmered in stews and broths to infuse them with its aromatic essence.

3. Astragalus (Huang Qi):

A pile of cut Huang Qi herbs

Huang Qi herb – which has been cut and in pieces


– Properties: Sweet, slightly warm
– Meridians: Spleen, Lung
– Benefits: Astragalus is hailed as a potent immune tonic in TCM, revered for its ability to strengthen the body’s defensive Qi (Wei Qi). Its sweet taste and gentle warming nature make it suitable for long-term use to enhance resistance to colds, flu, and other infections. Astragalus root can be simmered in soups, stews, or brewed into a nourishing tea with other herbs like jujube dates and goji berries.

4. Goji Berries (Gou Qi Zi):

A small mound of dried golgi berries

Golgi Berries in a pile

– Properties: Sweet, neutral
– Meridians: Liver, Lung, Kidney
– Benefits: Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are prized in TCM for their rich nutrient content and medicinal properties. They are considered a superior tonic for nourishing the Yin and Blood, promoting longevity and vitality. Goji berries can be added to teas, porridges, or used in soups and stews to impart a subtle sweetness and enhance their nutritional value.

5. Dang Gui (Angelica Sinensis):

A peice of raw Dang Gui ( whole root sliced)

Sliced root of Dang Gui

– Properties: Sweet, acrid, warm
– Meridians: Heart, Liver, Spleen
– Benefits: Dang Gui, often referred to as the “female ginseng,” is renowned for its blood-nourishing properties and ability to regulate menstrual cycles and alleviate menstrual discomfort. It promotes circulation, invigorates the Blood, and harmonizes the body’s vital energies. Dang Gui is a key ingredient in many TCM formulas for women’s health and can be added to soups, stews, and herbal broths for its therapeutic benefits.

6. Licorice Root (Gan Cao):

a pile of Licorice root that has been dried and cut into slices

Licorice root dried and cut

– Properties: Sweet, neutral
– Meridians: Spleen, Heart, Lung
– Benefits: Licorice root is a versatile herb used in TCM to harmonize herbal formulas, enhance the flavour of medicinal preparations, and soothe the digestive system. Its sweet taste and moistening properties make it useful for addressing dryness and inflammation in the body. Liquorice root is often combined with other herbs in decoctions, teas, and syrups to enhance their efficacy and taste.

7. Peppermint (Bo He):

A stalk of raw peppermint fresh leaves

A stalk of raw peppermint fresh leaves- lovely and green

– Properties: Pungent, cool
– Meridians: Liver, Lung
– Benefits: While peppermint is cooling in nature, its pungent flavour and aromatic qualities make it a valuable herb for promoting digestion, relieving headaches, and clearing nasal congestion. In TCM, peppermint is used to disperse stagnant Qi, soothe the liver, and alleviate symptoms of cold and flu. Peppermint leaves can be brewed into a refreshing tea, added to salads, or used to flavour desserts and beverages.

Winter Warmer Tea Recipe: Ginger Cinnamon Tea

Cuip of tea with cinnamon and ginger

Cinnamon and ginger tea

*This soothing tea blend combines the warming properties of ginger and cinnamon to invigorate the senses and fortify the body against winter’s chill.*

– 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
– 1 cinnamon stick
– 4 cups of water
– Honey (optional)

1. In a pot, bring water to a boil.
2. Add ginger slices and cinnamon stick.
3. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse.
4. Remove from heat and strain the tea into cups.
5. Add honey to taste if desired.
6. Sip and savour the comforting warmth of this aromatic brew.

Slow Cook Recipe: Astragalus Chicken Soup

This nourishing soup combines the immune-boosting properties of astragalus with the wholesome goodness of chicken for a hearty and wholesome meal.*

– 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
– 8 cups of water or chicken broth
– 10 slices of astragalus root
– 2 slices of ginger
– Salt and pepper to taste
– Chopped scallions for garnish

1. Place chicken pieces in a slow cooker.
2. Add water or chicken broth, astragalus root, ginger slices, salt, and pepper.
3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the chicken is tender and falling off the bone.
4. Once cooked, remove astragalus and ginger slices.
5. Serve hot, garnished with chopped scallions for an extra burst of flavour.

These herbal remedies and recipes embody the essence of traditional Chinese medicine, offering a holistic approach to winter wellness. By incorporating these herbs into your diet and lifestyle, you can enhance your body’s natural defences, promote vitality, and embrace the joys of the season with renewed health and vigour.



I often get told in the clinic that I’m taking ginger – when they have a sore throat or a fever – to which I’m cringing inside. This prompted me to do a comparison on when to use ginger versus peppermint.

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), ginger and peppermint are valued for their unique properties and therapeutic effects, each playing a distinct role in promoting health and well-being. Let’s explore how these herbs are used according to TCM principles:

Ginger (Sheng Jiang):

A rhizome of fresh ginger, next to 2 pieces or cut ginger and some dried podered ginger

Ginger – raw, cut and dried powdered forms


– When to Use:

Ginger is commonly used to treat conditions associated with coldness and dampness in the body. If you have a sore throat due to an external invasion of Wind-Cold pathogens, ginger can be particularly beneficial.

Its pungent and warm nature helps to expel cold, alleviate symptoms of congestion, and relieve soreness in the throat.

– Best Applications:

Ginger is often included in TCM formulas and culinary preparations for colds, flu, and digestive issues.

It is especially useful for individuals who tend to feel cold easily, have poor circulation, or experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.

Peppermint (Bo He):

A stalk of raw peppermint fresh leaves

A stalk of raw peppermint  leaves- lovely and green

– When to Use:

Peppermint is typically used to clear heat and disperse stagnant Qi, making it suitable for conditions characterized by heat, stagnation, and inflammation.

While it may seem counterintuitive to use a cooling herb like peppermint during the winter, it can be beneficial for conditions such as sore throats, sinus congestion, and headaches caused by excess heat or stagnation.


– Best Applications.

: Peppermint is often used in TCM to treat symptoms of summer heat, such as fever, irritability, and heatstroke. However, it can also be used during the winter months to alleviate symptoms of colds and flu accompanied by fever, headache, and sinus congestion.

Peppermint tea or steam inhalation with peppermint essential oil can help to clear heat from the body and relieve respiratory discomfort.

In summary, while ginger is best suited for addressing cold conditions and promoting warmth and circulation, peppermint is effective for dispersing heat and relieving symptoms of inflammation and stagnation.

Understanding the principles of TCM can help you choose the most appropriate herbs to support your body’s unique needs and restore balance during the winter season and beyond.


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