Change of Seasons
As a herbalist I have been taught how important it is to move through the cycles of life, not only as it pertains to the growing and harvesting of plant medicines, but also acknowledging the rhythms of the body and the changes of the seasons. Autumn ushers in cooler temperatures and shorter days, the leaves showing us their bright and beautiful hues before falling from the trees, and most plants begin to channel their energy inwards towards their roots. It is a time when stillness and quietness begin to creep in, the movement from summer’s outward expansive energy to the contracted, reflective energy of winter- and these are autumn energetics at their best.
Along with personal reflection and centering yourself to the changes of fall, herbs and warming foods can support the body and mind in the transition.
This blend is a staple this time of year in our house, added to broth with seasonal veggies or drank as a tea. It helps to bring balance, enhancing the immune system and increasing the body’s ability to adapt.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) has been used for hundreds of years for strengthening the body with its immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory effects against colds and flus. This potent herb is an immunostimulant, which means it stimulates the immune system to increase production of white blood cells, antibodies and various immune cells to build resistance to bacteria and viruses. It is considered an adaptogen, restoring overall health to the body.
Codonopsys pilosula, also known as Dang shen in Traditional Chinese Medicine or Poor Man’s ginseng, is an herb with a long use as a gentle tonic helping the body to adapt and defend against the effects of environmental stress. It’s uses include promoting digestion, strengthening immunity, and helping to ease the symptoms of stress, fatigue and illness. Codonopsys is noted for being a gentle herb, which provides a great option for those who find Ginseng too strong. In this blend, I also add it for its expectorant properties to soothe mucous membranes in the respiratory tract.
Dioscorea (Dioscorea opposita, Chinese yam) contains a few notable medicinal properties that make it popular in TCM herbal formulas. It is a sticky, sweet root that has been used for nurturing the body, as well as being an excellent moistening supportive herb for the lungs (especially with the dry, cold weather found in the fall and winter months). It is an overall nourishing tonic that can be easily added to soups and stews to prepare your body for the cold weather ahead.
Lyciium barbarum (gogi berries) pack quite the antioxidant punch! They are high in both vitamin C (for a healthy immune system) and vitamin A (necessary for iron metabolism), as well as selenium and copper to fight oxidative stress and protect the cells from free radical damage. Gogi berries are also high in vitamins B1 and B2 that offer protection to your central nervous system. Rounded out with healthy doses of both iron and potassium, these berries are nutritional powerhouses.
For a tea you could also add ginger, cinnamon or cloves. For soup, I love to add roasted organic chicken and plenty of vegetables. Whatever way you choose to enjoy it, this change of seasons blend is a great way to support your body while easing into all that Autumn brings.