Beating the 'winter blahs'

January 31, 2011 6:59:41 PM PST
It's the middle of winter and the ''winter blahs'' are settling in. There are plenty of products to help lift you out of our funk.

Anthony Qaiyum with Merz Apothecary has some examples of some unusual products that can be very helpful for the heart of winter. This is a time when our bodies are feeling the effects of winter both externally, internally and of course mentally.


1) Vitamin D - Chicago winters deprive us of vitamin D from the sun. This can have strong affects on mood, immunity, and more. Sunlight is the best way to get this essential vitamin, but during the winter months it is often necessary to take it orally. We recommend that you get a blood test through your doctor to determine your vitamin d levels before taking this, but if it turns out that you are deficient, these drops are a good way to do so.

2) Holy Basil - This unique herb helps improve stress response and "elevate spirit". It sounds a bit far-fetched, but I take this herb and I really do notice a much lighter more patient feeling when I take it. It is a must all year long for me, but especially during winter when it is easy to get grumpy and stressed out.

3) Illumine Light Balancing Formula - This is a combination of flower essences designed to help with "lack of light" and the depressive feelings that can result. Flower essences are formulas made from flowers that are intended to have an effect on a person's mental and emotional state. The bestselling flower essence is the stress and anxiety formula, Rescue Remedy. Illumine is formulated in a similar way but focuses on helping "see the light". We have lots of customers and staff members who find this to be an essential uplifter during the winter months.


Chicago's winds and weather along with the dry furnace heat indoors rob our skin of moisture. One of the best and most misunderstood ways to bring moisture into the skin is by using oil rather than lotion. Many people don't like to use oil directly on the skin because it is too greasy. The secret to using oil is to put the oil on the skin while you still have water on your skin from the bath or shower. They say oil and water don't mix well, but if you put them on the skin together, the oil will sink right into the skin and pull the moisture from the water along with it. Your skin will not be greasy at all but will be silky smooth. Here are a few favorites in a variety of price ranges:

1) Duchess Marden Body Serum -- This is a luxury oil that combines many precious essential oils with great moisturizing oils such as shea butter, apricot oil, and jojoba oil.

2) Goe Oil - This oil is also a really rich combination of oils, and it has the nice benefit of being semi-solid, so it is in a tube, making spills a non-issue, and making it easier to travel with.

3) Hobacare Jojoba Oil - This is strictly jojoba oil, but it still works really well and is a much more budget conscious option.


1) Yu-Be Hand Cream: This Japanese hand cream was used by many Everest climbers and other serious outdoor adventurers. It truly soothes hands and leaves them feeling very silky. It has a camphor smell when you first apply it, but that fades completely within 5 minutes and then you are left with really happy hands. Great for men and women.

2) Jack Black Industrial Strength Hand Healer - This hand cream is part of a men's line, but it works so well and became so popular that we now sell it to just as many women as men. It is not heavily scented and it leaves a dry but protective coating on the hands that seems to last even after a hand wash or two. This is one of our bestsellers year round, but especially in the winter.


1) Lifeshield Immunity by New Chapter - The first goal during this season is to avoid getting sick altogether. My favorite supplement for immune support is this unique mushroom combination from New Chapter.
Sidebar: For a great video on the power of mushrooms check out this video

2) Oscillo - This is the world's bestselling homeopathic medicine for the treatment of flu symptoms.

3) Nasopure - Nasal irrigation is one of the most effective ways to prevent and/or shorten the duration or severity of colds. They also have a great soothing effect for allergy sufferers. This is my favorite "neti pot" because it is a squeeze bottle, plus the salt is buffered so there is no burning.

4) Gelomyrtol - This German product is a capsule with essential oils. You take two three times a day when you have a chest cold or stubborn chest congestion. It is a remarkable product that has a huge following from those in the know.

5) Bronchial Tea - This tea that we import from Germany is excellent for any respiratory discomfort, and it is the perfect companion to the Gelomyrtol capsules above for colds and congestion.

Merz Apothecary
4716 N. Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625

Merz Downtown
Palmer House Hilton
17 E. Monroe Street
Chicago, IL 60603