As daylight wanes and the leaves turn their yearly tricks, we feel the movements of the wheel, and welcome back autumn. Temperatures drop here in the northeast and much like we pull out our cozy clothes, now is the time to revisit seasonal foods like roots, squash, cruciferous greens, and healthy fats for insulation, mineralization, and grounding. Change of season is a common time to catch a cold or the flu, so incorporating warming spices like garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, and black pepper will help to boost the immune system as well as aid the digestive system in processing and absorbing heartier foods and their nutrients.
Characterized by dryness and coldness, Autumn is known as the “Vata” season in the Ayurvedic tradition. During times of seasonal change, it is advised to reset and nourish the body. Herbal teas and infusions are a great way we can help to nourish and support our bodies through the fall. If consumed regularly, herbal infusions can stave off colds or at least shorten their duration, alleviate allergies, boost our immune systems, improve digestion, clean the blood, calm our nervous systems, provide our bodies with necessary vitamins and minerals, and diminish inflammation. Here are a few of my go-to fall recipes; I recommend making a big batch of each to have on hand!
To watch a video on how to make an infusion, click here.
A twist on Masala Chai, a now international favorite which originated in the Indian subcontinent, this tea replaces the traditional black Assam base with roots like Burdock and Astragalus. Burdock, a sweet root high in inulin is wonderful for both digestive and skin health. It’s also an alternative, or an herb that helps to cleanse the blood. Astragalus is another sweet, nourishing root which supports the immune system, liver detoxification, and energy levels. The spices in traditional Masala Chai like Clove, Cardamom, Ginger, and Cinnamon are warming and build digestive fire. Authentic Masala Chai is steeped in milk, though I suggest using a favorite milk alternative or the raw, grass-fed variety if possible.
The recipe is very adaptable and easily altered based on your accessibility to herbs. Adding or substituting other roots like Dandelion, Chicory, and Ashwagandha will produce a similar brew, in terms of taste and effect. You can tailor the Chai spices to your personal preference as well.
1 heaping tbsp Burdock
5 slices of Astragalus
1 tbsp optional other roots like Dandelion, Chicory, or Ashwagandha
½ tsp whole Cloves
1 tbsp Cardamom pods
1 tbsp grated fresh Ginger (or 1 tsp dried/powdered)
2-3 whole Star Anise
2-3 Cinnamon sticks
¼ tsp Fennel
¼ tsp Peppercorns
Add root and spice blend to 6 cups of liquid, this could be just water or water and milk. Simmer in a saucepan on the stovetop for 15-20 minutes. Strain, and sweeten to taste with honey or maple syrup.
This blend of Elderberries, Rosehips, Reishi, and Calendula is a favorite for when cold and flu season kicks in and it seems like everyone’s coming down with something. Elderberries are antiviral and high in antioxidant flavonoids, which make them a powerful immune system booster, proven to shorten the duration and severity of both the common cold and influenza. Rosehips are high in immune building Vitamin C and have mucilaginous properties which coat and soothe mucous membranes, beneficial for treating a sore throat. Reishi is an immune modulating medicinal mushroom, meaning it can strengthen and improve immune system resistance. Reishi is also antimicrobial and has a calming effect on the nervous system, another benefit in the often busy fall season. Ginger builds digestive fire, is antibacterial, and acts as a warming herb which helps to potentiate this formula. If Ginger isn’t available, try subbing Cinnamon, Cayenne, or Black Peppercorns.
1 tsp Elderberries
1 tbsp Rosehips
3-5 slices Reishi
1 tbsp grated fresh Ginger (or 1 tsp dried/powdered)
Put ingredients in a pot with 4 cups of water and simmer at least 20 mins or until half the liquid remains. If liquid gets too low, add more water. Strain and drink.
Allergy & Stuffy Sinus Tea
A wonderful tea for stuffy or irritated sinuses due to cold or seasonal allergies. This blend is also great for bringing down a fever! Nettle is an antihistamine and anti inflammatory, proven both scientifically and traditionally to reduce allergic reactions of the sinuses. Goldenrod is astringent, an expectorant, and antimicrobial; it calms runny eyes and nose, sneezing from fall allergies, and helps to expel mucus from the lungs. Elderflower, also antimicrobial and anti inflammatory, is indicated for respiratory ailments as it soothes inflamed sinus tissue and dries up excess mucus. Peppermint acts as a potent decongestant, soothing nasal passages and thinning mucus so it can drain more easily.
1 tbsp Nettle
1 tbsp Goldenrod
1 tbsp Elderflower
1 tbsp Peppermint
Boil 4 cups of water in a kettle, then pour over herbs in a mason jar. Cover and let steep for 10-15 mins. Strain and drink hot throughout the day.
Daily Nourishment Tea
This mineral rich tea is a great daily ritual to incorporate into your routine during the energy-zapping colder months. These herbs are tonic herbs, meaning they can be enjoyed every day; think of them as your daily greens! Nettle is featured here again alongside Horsetail, an herb high in vitamins and minerals like Silica, which promotes healthy skin, hair, and nails. Oat Tops, sometimes called Milky Oat Tops (feel free to sub Oatstraw if you cannot find the dried tops) are so nutrient dense that they strengthen and soothe nerves, balance endocrine function, and nourish the immune system. Alfalfa is a common, abundant herb with very bioavailable vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, and essential amino acids that are not made by the body but must be obtained from food sources.
1 tbsp Nettle leaf
1 tbsp Horsetail
1 tbsp Oat Tops
1 tbsp Alfalfa
Boil 4 cups or water in a kettle, then pour over herbs in a mason jar. Cover and let steep about 8 hours, preferably overnight, so that the vitamins and minerals have time to extract.
Uplifting Sunshine Tea
As the days grow darker and the sunlight is in short supply, this tea is a happy, uplifting cup of fondly remembered summer herbs. Lemon Balm, known as a “bringer of gladness” is a nervine, meaning it relaxes the nervous system and carminative, meaning it aids digestion. St. John’s Wort is a nervine often used to alleviate mood, usually in bloom around the summer solstice. Linden has an ability to “gladden the heart,” and it is a sweet remedy for heartache and grief. As well, Linden benefits the physical heart with conditions such as atherosclerosis, angina, and heart palpitations, especially when due in part to nervous tension or stress involved.
1 tbsp Lemon Balm
1 tbsp St. John’s Wort
1 tbsp Linden flower & leaf
Boil 3 cups of water and pour over herbs in a mason jar. Cover and steep for 10-15 minutes. Drink throughout the day.