The weather is getting colder and the days are getting shorter. As winter draws near we need to prepare our bodies and souls for the dark cold days ahead. The time to jump-start our immune systems for the approaching cold and flu season is now. There are many herbs available to help the immune system function best. Some of the herbs we can choose are well known such as echinacea. There are also herbs from Traditional Chinese Medicine that are helpful as well. I like to put several large pieces of astragalus root in the soup pot as it simmers on the stove top, just prior to serving I remove the astragalus.One of the most important things to remember when preparing our bodies for winter is hydration, internally and externally. Drinking lots of fluids, especially water is important for internal hydration. Drinking warm and soothing herbal teas is comforting to body and soul. Many good tasting herbs are also great for the immune system and helpful if you do get a cold; lemon balm, peppermint, lavender, and chamomile for example.Our sinuses also dry out when the heat comes on inside. When sinuses are dried out we are more likely to succumb to cold and flu germs! A great way to moisturize sinuses is to do weekly sinus steams. A variety of common herbs can be used such as thyme, marjoram, and peppermint. Taking a warm bath with bath salts is a great way to hydrate skin, don’t make the water too hot as that is drying. The ingredients in bath salts (Epsom salts, sea salts, and baking soda) help neutralize the pH of the water to make it more soothing to the skin. As soon as you step out of the tub, gently pat skin with a towel, leaving some moisture on the skin, apply body lotion to lock in the moisture and soothe skin further. Look for lotions made with organic ingredients.