As the weather gets cooler, our body can start to feel the change of seasons. From physically cold, achy and stiff, to itchy and red from pesky chilblains or for some it is simply low mood. Although we can’t change the weather, we can make changes to our diet and incorporate some warming herbs to keep our body’s internal fire alight through the winter. This keeps our circulation strong and can help prevent some of these bodily reactions to the cold.
Winter is time for warming your foods, which could mean warming up our morning smoothies either literally via temperature or with herbs such as ginger and cinnamon or swapping them altogether for some oat or buckwheat porridge, switching salads for soups, roasts, curries and stews.
- Cooking warms the energetics of foods (according to Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda) therefore winter is a time for warm meals which are cooked, think of soups, stews, casseroles and curries.
- Fruits can also be warming if you poach or stew them especially when done so with some warming spices, for example chai spiced stewed apples!
- Increase pungent spices e.g; anise, peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, chili, cumin and turmeric. Add to foods like curries, drink in tea’s and burn as essential oils in an aromatherapy diffuser.
- Water can also be consumed in the form of herbal tea such as cinnamon, ginger, or lemongrass. The warm water is warming to the body and the spices can also assist in warming the digestive fire, supporting digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Note: teas which have a diuretic component, i.e., green, black, coffee, and dandelion are dehydrating and should not be used in replacement of water.
Surprisingly, many of the herbs we use, especially in western herbal medicine, are actually cooling. Luckily however, the majority of the warming herbs we do have are also delicious culinary herbs! So, remember herbs don’t always have to be taken in a tablet or a tincture, they are ideally integrated into your daily diet to add a range of flavours and even colours to your meals.
Warming culinary herbs:
- Ginger, garlic, basil, thyme, rosemary, turmeric, cinnamon, oregano, orange peel, fennel and horseradish.
Warming medicinal herbs:
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
- Chamomile is surprisingly warming and bitter, chamomile can be a gentle sedative and digestif, making it the perfect after dinner sipper.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
- Licorice is warm and moistening. Its moistening actions makes it the perfect for soothing and preventing sore throats.
Angelica (Angelica Archangelica)
- Another warm digestive stimulant, which can also be helpful in chesty coughs due to its ability to expectorate phlegm and reduce inflammation.
Lemon balm (Melissa off.)
Lemon balm can be a little light bringer for the gloomy days of winter, warming the body and lifting the spirit in a single cup of tea
Turmeric Latte Recipe:
Prep time: 5 minutes
- 5 tbsp ground turmeric
- 3 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- Mix all the spices together evenly, store in an airtight container.
- When you would like to use, mix ½ – 1 tsp of mix with 1 ½ cups of milk of choice, and heat on the stove till warm, add honey or maple syrup if you would like some sweetness.
Hoping these tips will keep you warm this winter.
As always herbal medicine and diet is very individual so it is valuable to speak to your herbal medicine practitioner to ascertain what is best for you.
If you know that winter triggers your flare ups, or you always get chilblains or the flu, now is a great time to book in for a Naturopathic consult to find ways to prevent disease and support your health through all seasons.
Our Naturopaths specialize in Herbal Medicine, Diet and Nutrition.