Last weekend, I was able to get out and go for a hike in the mountains. The sun was shining, the temperature was perfect and the scenery was breathtaking.
The hike wasn’t super long, although it was long enough, but it was up, almost 2,000 feet of elevation gain. As we were climbing I had to laugh, even as I was sucking wind and gasping for air, I realized that some people don’t even live at 2,000 feet.
It was a slow steady climb to the top, surrounded by indescribable beauty.
Fall is similar.
It’s an opportunity to begin the slow steady shift into winter. Instead of kicking and screaming, look outside and mimic what nature is doing. Preparing. Without any fuss.
This is the time to prepare, with seasonal practices to help you more easily integrate the changes.
It’s so nice to have these periods of transition. Can you imagine what it would feel like to go directly from hot summer to winter or winter right into summer? Your whole being would probably go into shock without any time to acclimate. We need this buffer to help us into the next turn of the wheel.
This is a great time to take inventory and figure out what you might need going into the colder months.
There are plenty of things you might want to have on hand in your Winter Herbal Apothecary, Elderberry, Astragalus, Mullein, Thyme, Ginger, Tulsi, Syrups, Oxymels, Herbal Brandy 😏…
A wonderful herb you may not know about, but definitely need to is, Elecampane.
Elecampane is a plant that gets your attention. It’s tall, with sturdy stalks, huge leaves, and yellow flowers but it’s the root that offers us medicine.
The root has a distinct smell and is bitter, spicy, sweet, and warming. Odd combination I know but once you taste it you’ll know what I mean. The sweetness is due to its inulin content which basically means it’s a prebiotic and feeds and supports healthy gut flora.
It’s a plant that gets things moving. Many of us have old stuck muck in our bodies and Elecampane can be used to remove the muck, especially in the lungs and digestive system.
As with most plants, it can help with more than one thing but its claim to fame is, as a respiratory expectorant.
It’s drying so it’s best used for wet, damp, congested, and cold conditions.
What does that mean?
Well, if your lungs are infected, and you have yellow or green mucus and you’re coughing but nothing is coming up and when you breathe or cough you have gurgly, wet sounds in your lungs, Elecampane is for you.
It will help with infections because it’s strongly antimicrobial. And, it will increase the flow of mucus from deep in the lungs so you can cough up the muck.
You can make a honey with the root. It does help with the bitter, weird, taste and you can eat it straight off the spoon or put it in some hot water and make it into a tea. It’s helpful to take when you’re coughing, coughing coughing and nothing is coming out.
Elecampane can be useful in cases of bronchitis, asthma, and whooping cough.
You can make it into a syrup, or make a decoction but my favorite way to use it is as a tincture. It also works well in formulas with other herbs.
Elecampane can also be an ally for the digestive system.
If you have poor digestion and bad absorption, signs of cold and dampness in the digestive tract, Elecampane is for you.
What are the signs of cold damp digestion?
You might have a poor appetite, mucus in your gut or in your poo, a thick white coating on your tongue, food that feels like it’s stuck in your belly, and feel lethargic or sluggish.
And, remember, it’s a prebiotic so it benefits all the beneficial bugs in your gut.
It’s really easy to grow in your garden and it spreads like nobody’s business so you will always have access to roots.
Harvest it after the second full year of growing. You might want to plant it against a wall or fence or by itself so it doesn’t overpower your other herbs. It likes full sun but can get a little cranky when it’s too hot. Don’t worry though, it’s a survivor.
Here is a fun little tidbit about Elecampane Root. The Romans mixed Elecampane Root with dates, raisins, and honey and used it as a digestive dessert. It certainly sounds like a tasty way to make the medicine go down.