Autumn Herbs for Vitality

During the autumn season, our bodies require more warming foods to stay grounded. Fall is a time for building up the body, providing it with nutrients that enhance internal strength to prepare for the colder months ahead. Using a variety of herbs and spices is the perfect way to add flavor and dimension to meals, boost digestion, and increase immunity.

Add the following medicinal herbs to soups, stews and seasonal fare to elevate your vitality this season.

1. Rosemary

Rosemary is an aromatic herb that has a high antioxidant content. It contains iron, calcium and vitamin B6. Rosemary is traditionally used to help with muscle pain, improve memory, increase immunity and promote hair growth.

HOW TO USE: Add a bit of rosemary to your soups and stews or add it to olive oil for an oil infusion.

2. Ginger

Ginger is the mother of all herbs. This warming spice helps with an array of health related issues from constipation to nausea to boosting immunity. Ginger root helps to calm irritation. Ginger tea is often the perfect remedy to relieve dry coughs.

HOW TO USE: Try slicing or grating fresh ginger and steeping in a cup of hot water for 5 minutes or blend it in hot water & then strain. Add lemon and a bit of raw honey for further soothing.

3. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is the perfect fall spice. Cinnamon has potent benefits, such as blood sugar management, and anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Specifically, Ceylon cinnamon, reduces insulin resistance which helps you maintain balanced energy levels without experiencing the spikes and crashes. Balancing blood sugar balance is essential; as we move into the holiday months with more sweets and desserts.

HOW TO USE: Ceylon cinnamon can be added to smoothies, nut mylks soups, in baking, and as a tea. Bring 1 cinnamon stick to a boil, and then add raw honey and lemon to the brew.

4. Cloves

Cloves have been used in traditional cooking for years. Cloves are great for oral health, to eliminate the bad bacteria in your mouth and balance out the good bacteria. It’s best to start out slowly when initially using them.

HOW TO USE: Create a mouth rinse solution by mixing 1 drop each of cloves, tea tree, and basil essential oils in 1 cup of coconut oil. Swish 1-2 tbsp in your mouth daily after brushing.

5. Cardamom

Cardamom is a spice used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine practices to help with an array of imbalance. As we shift into autumn and the wind picks up, our throats become a bit more tender and cardamom is a wonderful option for relief.

HOW TO USE: Boil cinnamon and cardamom in water for about 15-20 minutes, allow it to cool to a warm temperature suitable for you and use the mixture to gargle every morning. You can also add cardamom to nut mylks, teas, and baked goods.

6. Nutmeg

Nutmeg is a nutrient packed spice, though often used sparingly. It provides fiber, vitamin B6, folate, manganese, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and copper. Nutmeg is the perfect spice to add to dishes and drinks to give you that cozy fall comfort while helping to relieve pain, boost bone health, reduce blood pressure, enhance detoxification and digestion.

HOW TO USE: Add nutmeg to nut milks, herbal teas, and baked goods.

7. Turmeric

Turmeric is a potent root that is a part of the ginger family of herbs. It is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions but it is also antimicrobial, liver protective, and soothing to the digestive tract.

HOW TO USE: Add turmeric to teas or a creamy turmeric “golden” latte. It’s also lovely in porridge!

8. Dandelion

Dandelion is a powerhouse when it comes to digestion and detoxification. The bitterness of dandelion leaf acts as a digestive aid, supporting liver clearance, which is often needed with heavier fall foods. Dandelion also promotes glutathione production, an antioxidant required by the liver for detoxification.

HOW TO USE: Try sipping dandelion root tea or make an infusion by letting dandelion root steep for 4-8 hours before consuming.

9. Chaga

Chaga is a powerful adaptogen. It is considered to be one of the highest scoring ORAC foods (Oxygen Radical Absorbent Capacity) which are known for their ability to fight free-radicals. Chaga boosts the immune system by stimulating the production of immune cells and supports the adrenals & nervous system.

HOW TO USE: Enjoy chaga as a tea or decoction or in a lovely chaga chai.

10. Holy Basil

Holy Basil otherwise known as Tulsi, is a delicious warming herb that contains vitamin K, vitamin A, and manganese. It’s known as an adaptogen, which helps to enhance the body’s reaction to excess physical or emotional stress. Holy basil helps calm nerves, supports adrenal recovery, helps balance blood sugar, and boosts the immune system.

HOW TO USE: Try drinking Tulsi tea daily in the cooler morning months or skip your afternoon coffee and replace it with tulsi tea for natural energy and increased vitality.

11. Oregano

Oregano’s antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal properties provide protection against bacteria, viral infections, and excess inflammation.

HOW TO USE: Add it to soups, stews, pizza, and savory dishes.

12. Thyme

Thyme is a wonderful herb to always have on hand. It’s antibacterial and antifungal and high in vitamins A & C. Thyme soothes coughs, boosts immunity, and elevates mood.

HOW TO USE: For coughs & colds – put a bunch of thyme in a pot to boil, and drink as a healing tea. You can also create a steam by removing the pot from heat and covering your head with a towel to inhale its healing vapors.

13. Parsley

Parsley is another immune boosting herb high in vitamin C and antioxidants. It improves digestion by stimulating production of digestive juices and helps to relieve bloating through its diuretic action.

HOW TO USE: Parsley can be added to almost any savory dish or salad to enhance flavor. It’s also a lovely addition to juices and smoothies.

14. Sage

Sage boosts memory and brain function, supports healthy blood glucose levels and is anti-inflammatory. It also enhances digestion and can help clear the common cold.

HOW TO USE: Add sage to savory dishes and roasted vegetables. You can also brew it as a tea with raw honey to help clear flu symptoms.

15. Paprika

Paprika is high in immune-boosting antioxidants, carotenoids, and beta-carotene. It’s capsaicin content reduces the sensitivity of airway mucosa making it an effective at minimizing asthmatic reactions. It also reduces headaches and arthritis pain which can be triggered by changes in temperature.

HOW TO USE: Paprika can be used liberally to add flavor to meals, salsas, rice dishes or fish.

16. Mint leaves

Mint leaves improve digestion and boost brain function. The menthol present in mint improves digestion by relaxing muscles in the digestive tract. Inhaling the scent of mint leaves boosts brain function by enhancing memory and increasing alertness.

HOW TO USE: Relax with a cup of steeped fresh mint leaf tea or pick up a mint essential oil to boost your brain health.

17. Cilantro

Cilantro is high in vitamins A, K, folate and potassium. Cilantro is highly alkaline and helps support detoxification. It specifically helps to clear heavy metals from the body, lowers blood sugar levels, and can help to prevent urinary tract infections.

HOW TO USE: Cilantro can be added to soups, stews, and savory dishes or green juices and smoothies.

18. Fennel seeds

Fennel seeds are commonly used in Indian cuisine. Its antioxidant properties help to fight free radicals and boost the immune system. Fennel seeds also help regulate blood pressure, reduce water retention, act as a digestive aid.

HOW TO USE: Use fennel seeds to add flavor to any savory dish or have a cup of fennel tea. To reduce gas & bloating.

19. Star anise

Star anise has a sweet licorice-like taste. It is antibacterial, antifungal, and high in antioxidants.

HOW TO USE: My favorite way to use star anise is to add it to a seasonal chaga chai

20. Saffron

Saffron is one of the most expensive herbs you can find due to its flavor profile and its health benefits. Its benefits include relieving PMS symptoms, nervous system support, and depression relief through its effect on serotonin.

HOW TO USE: Try making a warm fall saffron rice dish or have a soothing cup of saffron tea with ginger and raw honey.

photo credit: Raw Pixel