One of NZ's highest qualified herbalists shares her immunity know-how

We asked Dr Sandra Clair (PhD, Health Sciences), one of New Zealand’s most highly qualified and experienced medical herbalists and founder of traditional plant remedy company Artemis, for her top tips on heading into winter with our immune systems fighting fit.


These are extraordinary times and whilst none of us can predict the events of the future, what we can do is to prepare ourselves by building immune strength and resilience. That means looking after body and mind, as they both play a role. Building a strong and efficient immune system underpins your health and is the key to overcome ills swiftly should something sneak past the defence systems.

1. Power up with plants.

Traditional plant therapeutics go beyond nutrition in that they have unique active constituents that support the organs that help your body to function optimally. Incorporate plant remedies specifically formulated to boost and support your immune system daily during autumn and winter. The Artemis immune range is formulated using scientifically researched Central Otago Thyme and Echinacea for a rapid immune defence boost and ongoing maintenance.

2. Look after your most vulnerable entry ports.

Bugs can multiply in the nose and throat before spreading quickly through your body. Consider using saline nasal rinses at least once a day and gargle your throat with antiseptics when you have come home from a shopping trip. Plants such as Thyme, Clove, Myrrh, Sage and Licorice have scientifically researched antiseptic properties and are used in traditional herbal practice.

3. Nourish your gut.

Gut health is critical to healthy immune function. 70-80% of your immune tissue is situated in your digestive tract, and the immune system needs lots of beneficial strains of bacteria in the colon to do its job. Eat a well-balanced diet rich in plants and fermented foods and a wide variety of colourful, plant-based foods. Keep well hydrated at all times and consider taking a high quality daily probiotic for additional support.

4. Sleep support.

Your body repairs and renews during sleep and it needs this time to recover from daily stressors. Good sleep improves the strength of the immune system, enhances growth hormone production and supports the formation of antibodies necessary to fight infections. Stick to a sleep schedule where possible to assist your body in falling into a natural sleep rhythm. Avoid caffeine after midday and avoid bright lights in the evening which can make it more challenging to fall asleep. Traditionally, relaxing tea remedies are taken about 30 minutes before going to bed as a wind-down ritual to support the body’s ability to get to sleep and stay asleep.

5. Manage your stress, and help those around you.

In New Zealand, and globally, we are dealing with uncertainty and events which take a toll on our mental wellbeing, which in turn can affect immunity. Prioritise time in nature and exercise – outdoors if at all possible - alongside good nutrition and rest. Meditation and Mindfulness have also shown positive impact on immune and mental health. You might also find natural health options which support your adrenal glands and calm an over-busy mind helpful.

And lastly, do make sure you keep in touch somehow with your community and those who need support.

Kia kaha


Sandra’s personal wellness routine includes:

  • Prevention is better than cure and it pays to boost our immune defence daily with immune strengthening plants such as Thyme and Echinacea.  ViroGone is my foundation immune product. I take this preventatively every day to support my immune system and add a few more doses to boost immunity if I am out and about or if I start to feel unwell.
  • Thyme Lemon Tonic is another favourite of mine. It is a delicious and comforting healthful tonic that I take as a hot drink during the colder season. With Central Otago thyme and whole certified organic lemons it is an excellent tonic to support respiratory and immune health. I take one cup every day and increase to 3 cups a day if I have a tickly throat or my breathing is impeded due to mucus build up.
  • I make sure that I am 30 to 60 minutes per day outside in the fresh air and soak up some sunshine and vitamin D. Part of my daily walk goes through beautiful native bush. Forest bathing, called ‘‘Shinrinyoku’’ in Japanese, has shown to boost the immune system, in particular natural killer cells activity, well beyond the actual forest walk.
  • I am also enjoying a sauna at least once a week. Saunas are not only profoundly warming and comforting, they can nip a chill in the bud and have a marked beneficial effect on strengthening the immune response when under threat. Alternatively, a hot bath with a squirt of castile soap, epsom salts and essential oils of thyme and eucalyptus has a similar effect.

Find out more about the Artemis immunity range:

  • The Artemis ThymeMed range includes the popular ViroGone products, for rapid immune defence, now available for adults and kids in liquid and handy on-the-go spray formats. ViroGone Spray was recently awarded the Best Product for Immunity at the Best of Natural Awards.
  • The ThymeMed Kids range is specially formulated for infants and young children and with no artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners or preservatives, it is ideal for powerful, natural immune and respiratory support.
  • New ThymeMed BronchiClear is for Deep Lung & Bronchial support, formulated with the double power of ThymeMed and Ivy Leaf to clear excess mucus from the airways and soothe and relax the chest.

Shop the full Artemis range of teas, tinctures and creams online now.

Always read the label and use as directed. If symptoms persist see your health professional. Artemis Limited, Dunedin, NZ. 


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