Autumn is the time to ground down and return to our inward selves. After the ethereal light and abundant days of summer, we start to prepare for the darker days ahead. It’s the best time of year to set intentions, get quiet, create and manifest dreams, and to re-commit to healthy habits–the simple things that add up to a healthier state of being.
Wherever you are in the world and whether you experience a dark winter or not, honoring the seasons within the body is one of the most fundamental practices within herbalism.
1. INVITE WARMING, GROUNDING AND NOURISHING RITUALS BACK INTO YOUR LIFE
From a holistic, traditional standpoint, each season is characteristic to an element or quality within nature, and we should guide our lifestyle choices to support the season. For example, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, this season marks the beginning of the Yin (cool, watery, deep) part of the year. In Ayurveda, it is the season of Vata energy (characterized by the mobile nature of wind /air, cool, light, dry, and unpredictable). So, we focus on routines to support these qualities: grounding, nourishing and warming foods, warm tonic drinks like turmeric (golden) milk or immune-supporting hot chocolate, and hot herbal tea, especially with herbs like hawthorn, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne. It just so happens that the foods of this harvest season are rich in grounding and nourishing qualities: sweet and starchy veggies like squash and root veggies–perfect for soups and stews, and warm cooked foods. And, onions and garlic and spicy peppers are abundance and used for warmth and immunity. We make soups with medicinal immune broths, indulge in warm baths, cozy bedding, and warming + circulatory supporting exercise–like yoga by the fireplace.
2. GET BACK TO YOUR ROOTS
It’s a good time to shift our herbal preparations towards roots; meaning heartier preparations rather than light floral sun teas that we enjoyed throughout the summer. Our daily teas will usually reflect the season we live in, and in autumn; roots and spices just happen to be what the body needs to prepare for winter. We take our digestive bitters every day–made from bitter roots like dandelion, and burdock. And enjoy slowly simmered teas, like chai with burdock and astragalus, or earthy mushroom brews and broths with reishi and shitake. (See recipe below for a recipe for root chai.)
3. INCREASE IMMUNE TONIC HERBS
When something is classified as a tonic, it implies that it is meant to be taken regularly over the long-term with the purpose of toning and strengthening the body’s systems. Instead of waiting for something to go wrong before we attend to the health of your body, we strengthen and support our natural defenses with Immune Tonic, a simple formula, with powerful benefits.
4. OIL UP
Increase oils and healthy fats (omega’s) in the diet. As we head into the dry cold season, our body needs good fat to stay warm and nourished with energy. We load up on coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, raw cultured butter, hearty nuts and seeds, good sources of fish(and meat, if you choose) and use these ingredients throughout our cooking.
Do oil massage–we love the relaxing ritual of massaging oil onto our whole body and then soaking in a warm shower or bath. The water helps the oil to sink deep into the skin, leaving us feeling nourished and relaxed. It’s the perfect ritual to wind down from the day and before bed. Coconut or sesame oils are great for this practice.
5. STOCK THE APOTHECARY
We find great joy in preparing the wellness center of our homes, and in doing so, we are prepared for anything that comes our way. Items like elderberries, thyme syrup, raw honey, and astragalus root line the shelves, along with tea herbs, and a few fresh essentials.
And lastly, bear witness to the changing seasons and get outside! Do a walking meditation in the woods or park near your home. Notice the leaves and light changing, breathe deep the fresh air and move your body. Embrace the change!
Makes 4 cups
- 1 small fresh burdock root, chopped
- 4-5 reishi mushroom slices
- 2 tbsp. fresh ginger
- 2 tbsp. cut cinnamon root, or 5-6 sticks
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp. cardamom pods
- 1-quart water
Combine everything in a stock pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer for about a half hour. Strain and enjoy with cream, coconut milk, and a little raw honey.
Happy Fall dear friends, may this season be good to you!