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Change of Season? Herbs have got you covered.

Guest post by: Emma Downie, Registered Herbalist

As we enter into the fall season of colder nights, windy days, fall colors and cozy blankets, we may notice some bodily changes in response. For some, this is the season of back to school coughs and colds, digestive change or upset, and seasonal allergies.

Throughout history, herbs have been used to rebalance our system through all seasonal changes, and often there is a correlation between which herbs are in season, and which seasonal ailments they help to balance or treat. In Traditional Chinse Medicine, a traditional change of season soup is brewed for every seasonal change, to help increase vitality, strengthen digestion, immune function, and overall constitution. This soup/brew is made of Goji Berries, Codonopsis root, Wild Yam root, and Astragalus.

Below are a few helpful tips to help keep your system balanced this coming change of season!

Digestive Sensitivity:
During a change of season, our digestive system can sometimes become sensitive and unbalanced due to the change in temperature and pace of life. Our digestive system loves schedule and routine, and during changes of season, often times are schedules change. This can create upset stomach, irregular bowel movements, indigestion or lack of appetite. Eating with the seasons is a wonderful way to mitigate this. As the weather turns colder, and a chill settles in the air, try to avoid having cold things in the mornings. Sub the smoothie out of a turmeric late in the morning, or chai tea. Warming herbs such as turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger, all help gently wake up the digestive system, and prepare it for the coming meals of the day.

If appetite is more your issue, you may consider warming bitters (cooling would be counterintuitive to the season), to help promote ndigestion! Bitters can be added to a morning tea, or just a glass of warm water with lemon, 15 minutes before meals. These bitter and warming herbs help promote the creation of bile, and hydrochloric acid in the stomach, and aid in proper digestion and assimilation.

Seasonal Allergies:
Coughing, Sneezing, and itchy eyes, are enough to make anyone unhappy that fall is just around the corner. A few seasonal herbal allies can assist in easing your symptoms, before you reach for the benadryl. Nettle, being a natural antihistamine, can be drunk as a tea or taken as tincture, to help with itchy eyes, skin, and throat. Nettle can be taken daily, and can be paired with other herbs such as Astragalus, or Eye bright, to further decrease symptoms.

Coughs and Colds:
With school starting up again and our weekly schedules picking up, the chance for germ exchange and compromised immune systems increase. Our immune system does best when it is supported both physically but also emotionally. Our immune systems often become compromised when we are stressed, or not eating or sleeping our best. Therefore, there are many ways we can support this system, in children and adults. Getting adequate nutrition and sleep are key here – as the days get shorter and the nights grow longer, our bodies will naturally want to sleep longer. This is a natural cycle that we would do well to indulge during fall and winter. Some herbal allies to consider are; Elderberries: These adult and child friendly dried berries can be made into syrup, tincture or teas, to help increase immune function, and fight viruses.

When made as a syrup with honey or cane sugar, can be a delicious way to keep your little ones sniffle free. Add ginger for an extra antiviral kick. Astragalus: An immune-modulating herb from the East, this sweet herbs can be cooked into rice, made as a tea, or taken as tincture, to increase immune activity when under stress, or when there is a pathogen threatening to take you down during a busy week. Echinacea: This adult and child friendly herb is another potent antiviral, and can be great for sore throats. This herb works best when it touches the tissue it is meant to affect, therefore tea or syrup for sore throats is a handy ally to have.

Yarrow: This herb is a nice one for adults who spike a fever. Yarrow is diaphoretic, meaning it helps your body to sweat. This will help the body feel the fever, and sweat it out. Especially helpful if you have associated chills, as it will make you feel warm and toasty.

About Emma: Emma Downie is a Registered Clinical Herbalist, with a Diploma from the Institute of Traditional Medicine, as well as a Certificate of Advanced Botanical Medicine. She has worked under both classically trained, eclectic, and indigenous herbalists, and is grateful for all she has learned in the process.