FOOD AS MEDICINE
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Our bodies follow the seasons. We come from the dark, constricted, cold of winter (yin) through the awakening of spring with its greening landscape-stretching upward and outward to the bright, open, heat of summer (yang). We then transition back through autumn from the (yang) of summer to the (yin) of winter. Life ever swings from yin to yang; yang to yin. We respond to changes in climate internally as well as externally. Winter causes us to store energy and resistance; summer urges us to yield it. Because of the ebb and flow of energy in the universe and in ourselves, we are influenced by internal and external demands on our stores of immunity and energy. These demands are the same whether we get adequate sleep, consume healthy foods, and drink plenty of water, or whether we neglect to do these things. [Leslie Tierra]
Throughout the seasons, you can supplement your health with HERBS that undergird systemic changes.
-- For instance, in the Spring you can eat tart and bitter greens to augment digestion and support the Liver. HERBS like Dandelion, Mustard, Artichoke, Astragalus, Nettles, Garlic, and Green Tea support digestion and help the Liver deal with transitional body changes.
-- Cool your body in Summer. Increased activity in summer can easily overheat both the body and the mind. Eat lighter-fruits, salads, grains, and legumes- all in moderation. Add ginger and cardamom to warm the gut. Protect your energy in summer. Bitter HERBS cool, dry, and strengthen the Heart and Small Intestine - the organs of Summer. Spicy HERBS , like Chiles and Curries, open the pores and cool the blood. Cooling HERBS, such as Mint, Lemon Balm, Chrysanthemum, Hibiscus, Red Clover, Violet Leaves, Honeysuckle, Borage, Rose Hips, and Green Tea cool the body. Hawthorn supports the Heart, as well.
-- In Late Summer, we are in balance; in harvest. Coming from the heat of Summer toward the changes of Autumn, Late Summer nourishes and balances the body. This is a time of transformation - from the warmth of spring and summer to the cooling of fall and winter. Ruled by the stomach and spleen, the influence of Late Summer is Dampness. You may notice asthma with mucus production, fluid retention, and diarrhea at this time of year. The taste of Sweet strengthens digestion in Late Summer and includes complex carbohydrates. Helpful HERBS in Late Summer include: ginseng, hawthorn, licorice, cardamom, citrus peel, and ginger.
-- In Autumn, we tend to want to hold on the warm months of summer. As Autumn days remain warm; the nights cool. The body begins gradual involution in preparation for Winter storage of energy and resistance. Toxins built up over months of overindulgence may surface in the form of allergies, acne, asthma and bronchitis, sinusitis, and constipation. Organs most influenced in Autumn are the Lungs and Large Intestine. Colds and flu are more prevalent during Autumn because we have trouble adjusting to warm sun/cool air. Begin to choose cooked foods: squash, root veggies, roasted foods to alleviate dampness. HERBS for Autumn are Elderberry, Marshmallow, Mushrooms, Astragalus, Flaxseed, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Elecampane, Coltsfoot, and Pepper.
--Winter demands that we store energy. Energy fires are driven deeply inward, protecting Kidneys and Adrenal Glands. Consuming cold foods and drinks now causes the immune system to be taxed by working metabolic fires overtime. Winter is the time to consume cooked foods and warm drinks. Cook foods with garlic, ginger, cumin, fennel, basil, fenugreek, and parsley. Layer clothing while keeping indoor temperature down- to ameliorate changes from outdoor to indoor temperatures. Rise and set with the sun to keep your body's clock in good order. Utilize warming HERBS like Cinnamon, Fenugreek, Dried Ginger, American Ginseng,
Elder Flowers and Berries, and Prickly Ash to stoke metabolic fires and undergird immunities.
-- A good beginning for an HERBAL Regime is to supplement your yearly cycle with the HERBS of Spring, Summer, Late Summer, Autumn then Winter for one year. You don't have to utilize all the suggested HERBS; you may find that one or two a season works just fine for you. Do try to follow Dietary, Dress, and Activity suggestions for each season, though. You will probably find after one year's cycle that you feel added strength and endurance. It will probably take the better part of a year for you to feel this.
For Further Reading see article [Seasonal Support]