It’s the end of the growing season in my neck of the woods. Rain or snow and colder temps are forecasted for the weekend. 🥶
I’m finishing the last of the outside chores and putting the garden to bed for the winter.
I have to admit. I’m ready.
Every year summer is full on go but this year seemed especially crazy. We had so many things to do in our first full year in the mountains. Next year will be easier. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. 🤞
After all the activity of the summer, the fall and winter months offer us a time to slow down.
If we follow the plants, we let go of the push upward and outward and relax down, deep down into our roots. We begin to conserve our resources and go inward. We embrace the darkness and rest and heal and sleep.
🍁Fall is the perfect time to start grounding yourself. Getting ready for winter.
I like to start brewing more root teas and decoctions with herbs like Dandelion, Ginger, Cinnamon, Burdock, and Mushrooms. And of course some kind of herbal, immune stimulating Chai.
If you don’t know, a decoction is basically a tea that is simmered. It’s the best way to get the most out of barks, roots, mushrooms, and hard seeds.
🌿All you do is put the herb in water and bring it to a boil. Then simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes to ½ an hour.
Then strain the herbs out and drink.
You can decoct the herbs for a few more rounds so don’t compost them just yet. As long as your tea is still strong tasting the herbs are still good.
☕If you are brewing your decoction for medicinal purposes drink a cup 3-4 times a day. I know that’s a lot of peeing but hey that’s a small price to pay.
Check out this tea recipe from the Herbal Academy. You can easily find all the ingredients to make it yourself.
Warming Adaptogen Chai Tea
This warming tea keeps you toasty as the days turn cool while supporting the immune system and adrenals during the cold and flu season to help fend off illness.
• 2 tablespoons reishi mushroom
• 1 tablespoon astragalus root
• 1 tablespoon eleuthero or ashwagandha root
•1 tablespoon burdock root
• 1 tablespoon cinnamon chips
• 2 teaspoons dried ginger (or 7 slices fresh ginger)
• 5 cardamon pods, crushed
• ½ tsp cloves
• 2 cups water
• 2 cups milk (dairy or non-dairy)
1. Combine reishi, astragalus, ashwagandha, burdock, and water in a pot.
2. Bring to a gentle simmer for 15-20 minutes.
3. Add remaining herbs and milk, and heat for another 10-15 minutes.
4. Strain herbs and serve with honey or maple syrup to taste and a dash of nutmeg on top, if desired.
5. Refrigerate unused portion and reheat later. Drink up to 3-4 cups throughout the day.
Fall is also a time to support your immune system since it’s the beginning of cold and flu season.🤧
The sniffles. The coughs. The cranky tummy. The sneezing. Oh my!
With a little preparation, you can create an easy-to-use winter apothecary. You don’t have to make everything yourself either. Just collect all the things you want to have on hand so you are ready. Nothing worse than getting caught with your pants down. (kind of like peeing on the trail and hoping no one comes walking by till you get your pants back up, just sayin) 👖
So here’s the thing, one herb often works for many needs so you don’t need a million bottles of stuff you won’t use or don’t remember what they are for. Trust me, it happens. (stay tuned for the Winter Apothecary)
But, really, the best offense is a good defense.
So, the time to start boosting your immune system is, uh, NOW.
☀️In addition to sunshine, good nutrition, sleep, and exercise, herbal immune tonics taken on a daily basis during the fall and winter give you a way better chance of staying healthy.
Remember, herbs are the supporting players not just the stars in the immune boosting show.
These are herbs that are slow acting so they have to be taken regularly to be helpful. (unlike something like echinacea which stimulates the immune system right now).
And, immune tonics are great if you already know you have a crappy immune system.
Most immune tonics are in the category of immunomodulators, which are herbs that have a balancing effect on the immune system.
Here are 3 herbal immune tonics to add to your daily fall routine:
Reishi can enhance and fine-tune your body’s immune response. It’s really helpful as a daily remedy if you have weak lungs or frequently get respiratory infections. It strengthens the circulatory system. It’s a legendary adaptogen, (adaptogen herbs are building herbs and taken over time they help your overall health) which makes it a great ally for increasing your resilience. Reishi is also a traditional tonic for anxiety and can help you keep calm in a nice slow way.
🍄Reishi is better as a tea/decoction than as a tincture. Throw it in a decoction with Astragalus, Burdock, Ginger, Orange Peel, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Peppercorns, and Clove and you’ve got yourself an immune Chai Tea.
I also add a handful or two of dried reishi slices to bone or vegetable broth when I have a pot simmering.
Cautions: use caution with blood thinning medications, avoid if you have mushroom allergies.
In our house, Elderberries are our most treasured immune tonic! It would be a sad, sad day if we didn’t have any elderberries to get us through the winter.
You can take it daily to protect yourself from colds, flu, and other viral infections. If you happen to get some kind of crud, you can take it to stimulate your immune system and lessen the severity and duration.
There are so many ways to use Elderberry. Make (or buy) it as a syrup, tea, tincture, honey, or shrub. There are so many possibilities to make this medicine go down.
Cautions: eating raw (uncooked or untinctured elderberries can cause nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.
Astragalus is an amazing root that is considered an adaptogen (like Reishi) and helps to support the immune system.
It has been shown to reduce the occurrence of common respiratory illnesses, seasonal allergies, inhibit tumor growth and boost the immune system. It is used for adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia.
Astragalus is best used as a daily remedy to build immune strength—its medicine is slow and sustained, so to get the full benefits you gotta take it every day for a few weeks.
Think of Astragalus as a protective sphere, shielding the body from external invaders.
Astragalus is a food herb, so it’s safe to take in large quantities regularly. I love adding a handful to broth (along with the Reishi) and into herbal chai tea. You can mix the powder into protein balls, cookies, smoothies, and anything else you want.
It’s not great as a tincture because alcohol doesn’t extract the immune-enhancing polysaccharides. These polysaccharides are water soluble so it’s best to extract them by making decoctions or simmering (like in broths or soups and stews).
An ounce of prevention is all it takes. You can do it. Keep it simple and stay healthy.