by Sarah Gray MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

As summer draws to an end and the light starts to change. The plants around us start to provide remedies that are crucial for our well being as we head towards autumn. It is berry time.

I find it amazing that what is growing around us often correlates with what we need medicinally. This is the time to prepare the immune system for the approaching colder months.

Berry Season and Immune Boosts by Sarah Gray, Medical Herbalist


Benefits of Berries

Berries provide high levels of vitamins including vitamin C. Any one who lived through the second world war will tell you Rosehips were much heralded and readily consumed for their exceptionally high levels of vitamin C and their ability to keep colds away. I feel we have lost touch with these simple remedies that can really help to boost the immune system.

Rosehips not only provide Vit C but also Vitamin E, selenium, manganese, and the B-complex vitamins. Elderberries are also high in Vit C and have been found to have antiviral actions. Elderberry syrup makes a great preventative medicine, which if taken daily may help to keep colds and other viruses at bay.

Other berries that can be consumed at this time of the year are blackberries and blackcurrants.  Blackcurrants are also high in Vit C (3 times as much as an orange and equivalent to blueberries). The intense red, purple colour of a blackberry is provided by the special type of flavonoids they contain; anthocyanins.  These come out prior to the elderberries and the rosehips, so its good to have a year plan so that you can be sure to catch all the berries, when they are out.

Flavonoids are in all plants but some, such as berries, have more than others. Modern research on flavonoids has found that they have antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory actions on the body. They have also been found to have a protective action on the liver and heart and are high in antioxidants.



Using Berries for Health

I made a homemade Ribena this year using blackcurrants and a decoction of echinacea root and organic honey. Instead of using sugar I used organic raw honey which has health benefits of its own. Although the honey may not preserve it as long as sugar, if you keep it in the fridge and consume quickly honey makes a great base for syrups. Many syrup recipes can be found online. So when you have eaten your fill and you want to preserve what you have left, have fun, experiment and stock up for the coming months!

There are many herbs that herbalists use to support the immune system which can be taken alongside a healthy diet. I also provide dietary advice as a part of the full herbal medicine consultation. If you experience recurring coughs, colds and infections and you feel as though your immune system could do with a boost, herbal medicine may help.


Call me to discuss your health needs and find out if herbal medicine can help you.  Ring the clinic on 020 8520 5268.