I know you can feel it. The subtle shift in the temperature and light signaling that summer is almost over and we are heading into fall. Just the other day I was going to park my car by a tree for a little shade but all the leaves had already fallen!
Your body understands the changing of seasons on an innate level and most of us don’t really think too much about it except maybe to moan about the coming cold weather. But what if you consciously engaged in the process? Would it make the transition easier and your body stronger and less likely to get sick? I would say most definitely YES!
Fall is a time for introspection and a good time to decide what is for keeping and what can be released. Maybe you have been cleaning out closets and purging old things that you never use? I know I have and it feels amazing! But, you might also consider what you can let go of in your mental and emotional life. Maybe you have some old thought patterns, negativity, grievances and hurts that you are willing to surrender. If you need inspiration look no further than nature. The plants shed their leaves and shift their energy inward toward their roots for the wintertime and emerge renewed and fresh in the spring.
Besides letting go, it’s important to build up our immune systems because a strong immune system is a vital part of a healthy life! The first thing to consider when thinking about immunity is lifestyle. It is those day to day choices we make or don’t make that help us feel happy, healthy and energetic. Things like our emotional state, our connection with others, stress levels, sleep, nutrition, and spending time in nature affect our immunity. Our gut health, or what is now referred to as the microbiome, is also a super important key to our well-being.
The immune system is constantly on-call doing its job and doing it so well, that most of the time you don’t even notice it. It’s only when it becomes compromised and you get sick that you may wonder, what is going on in my body? It really does do a great job all on its own but what if you were to actively support it? Of course, it might even work better!
One easy thing you can do to boost your immune system is by getting enough Vitamin D3. Vitamin D plays an important role in our immune system function and is used by almost every cell in the body. Vitamin D is actually a hormone produced in the body but many of us are deficient especially in the winter when our exposure to the sun is limited.
Drinking nourishing herbal infusions is another way to help boost your immune system because infusions are packed with the vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay healthy. Making an infusion is as easy as placing about a half a cup or so (or 1 oz.) of dried herb into a quart jar, filling the jar with just boiled water, putting a lid on the jar and letting it steep overnight or at least 4 hours, straining the herb and drinking! Try Nettle, Oatstraw, Burdock, Hawthorn, Linden, Raspberry Leaf, Red Clover and Comfrey. It is important to drink these regularly for best results.
There are also herbs you can use to get through the subtle transitioning into fall. Hopefully, you will decide to incorporate one or more of them into your daily herbal routine!
Astragalus is a traditional Chinese herb but has integrated itself into Western herbalism. Known for its many benefits, it is a nourishing tonic that slowly builds the body’s resistance to whatever life throws at you. It gradually increases the strength of the immune system and reduces the effects of stress. It also works to nourish and build physical energy reserves. Are you sensing a pattern here? It is a very deeply nourishing root. It is traditionally used as a decoction or cooked into food. A great way to use it is to throw a couple of slices of the root into your soup pots when you make soup or in your homemade bone broth. Add it to your immune enhancing tea blends and drink it all fall and winter. You can also take it in capsules or tincture form.
Tulsi has so many medicinal uses that it’s called ‘the queen of herbs’ in India. Its main claim to fame is its use as an adaptogen. Basically, that means it has the innate ability to help ALL systems of the body and nudge you toward health. Tulsi has many uses, but for now let’s focus on the ones that will help us navigate the changing of the seasons. It helps to strengthen and modulate the immune system. It has an affinity for the lungs and can be taken as a preventative or for current respiratory conditions. It helps with stress and your tolerance of stress. It is slightly warming and can be used to help stagnant digestion, cause really, who doesn’t need digestive support! Tulsi supports a calm mind and can help us recover from our go go go life style! Make it as a tea, take it as a tincture and eat it like you would other basils.
In late summer and early fall, as you are driving along in your car, staring out the window, you might notice large clumps of purple berries hanging from certain trees. Well, my curious friends, those would be Elderberries! The legends of elderberries are widespread and you should believe them! Elderberry is one of the most powerful herbs for preventing and treating colds and flu. Elderberry has the ability to restore balance to the body by regulating the highs and lows of the immune system and increasing the efficiency of the whole body. Both flowers and berries are used but have slightly different properties. They can be consumed as teas, tinctures, elixirs, syrup, oxymels and honey. Take Elderberry at the first sign of any kind of crud and it will usually nip it in the bud or at least significantly decrease the intensity and duration. In our house we have already started taking it!
If you are local, Weed Woman Herbals is running a special on Elderberry tincture until October 12th or a long as supplies last!
One more thing I want to mention is food, because food is your best medicine! If you are like me, your body has already started responding to that chill in the air. What is happening in the environment is also happening inside your body.
These foods strengthen your immunity and help you transition into fall. They will make your blood a little warmer, help keep you hydrated and provide protection from that pesky wind. Try eating peaches, vine ripe tomatoes, olive oil, yellow summer squash, pumpkin seeds, pears, red grapes, quinoa, hemp seeds, apples, pomegranates, baked sweet potatoes, steamed or roasted root vegetables and all the end of season veggies exploding out of your garden. Try breakfasts of cooked grains and lunches and dinners that include steamed vegetables, soups and stews. If you eat meat and eggs it the best time of year to enjoy them. Think warm and decrease your consumption of raw veggies and cold and frozen food.
Try this recipe from Talya’s Kitchen
Heavenly Baked Pears
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Yield: About 6 servings
6 organic pears, any variety
2 cups organic pear or apple juice
6 to 8 fresh or dried figs, finely chopped
½ cup organic raisins
1/3 cup coarsely chopped raw almonds
¼ cup raw sunflower, hemp or pumpkin seeds
1 Tbs. cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon organic lemon peel, dried or fresh
½ teaspoon ground ginger root
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg or mace
2 Tablespoons ghee
1 Tablespoon raw honey
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash and core the pears, leaving them whole and unpeeled. Place the pears in an 8×8 baking dish.
Mix the figs, raisins, almonds, seeds, and spices together in a small mixing bowl. Stuff the fig mixture firmly into each one of the cored pears. Pour apple juice into the pan and over all the pears. Cover and bake for 45 minutes or until the pears are fork tender.
In a small bowl, combine the ghee and honey. When the pears come out of the oven, spoon a dollop of this sauce over each one. Sprinkle with cardamom and immerse yourself in pear heaven.