Published October 16, 2023 While some of us are still experiencing warm afternoons and blooming flowers, the mornings are starting to feel a whole lot like fall. The air is crisp and cool, the plants are brimming with dew, and more leaves are collecting on the earth. Autumn is a time to reap what we’ve sown, in all senses of the phrase. This can mean harvesting the last crops in your garden, processing summer’s abundance in your kitchen, planting seeds for spring and winter, and starting creative projects that have been percolating in your mind. There are many practices and rituals you can integrate into your routine this time of year to support your body as we transition to colder and slower days. Our bodies are very attuned to what is happening in nature! So let’s get into our top tips for supporting your body as we ease into fall: Use warming herbs Nowadays there are few things more emblematic of fall than pumpkin spice. And turns out there’s an herbal reason for the craze! This famous combo contains cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg, and allspice, all of which are traditionally considered to be warming herbs. These highly aromatic herbs not only feel cozy emotionally, but they also contain chemical constituents that support your circulatory system which in turn keeps your blood flowing and your internal fire stoked. This is crucial during the fall season when we tend to be more sedentary and need to get the lymph moving. Some ways you can incorporate warming spices into your day are: sipping on a cup of hot ginger tea, sprinkling cinnamon on your oatmeal or lattes, and adding turmeric (always add black pepper with turmeric for optimal absorption!) or hot peppers to your curries and cooked meals. Let things go The energy of summer is kind of like a wild garden – lush, overflowing, vibrant, colorful, and perhaps messy or hectic. Just as you might use the early months of fall to harvest its bounty and prune back its leggy growth (you know this if you’re a rose gardener!), you can apply the same concept to your home and internal life. This might look like clearing out summer clutter and clothing from your physical space, holding a ceremony to let go of thoughts or patterns that are no longer serving you, or energetically cleansing your home with the help of herbs. If you look around you might notice the trees in your area dropping their leaves. This is a beautiful reminder that gracefully shedding the old allows for new growth. Opt for seasonal, cooked foods Cold smoothies, iced coffees, and fresh watermelon really hit the spot in the summer months. But as we ease into the fall season, it’s important to transition away from these colder foods and begin to enjoy more room temperature beverages and cooked meals. In TCM these warmer foods support your spleen and prevent “dampness” in your body. It’s really fun to wander your local farmer’s market or local farmstand for cooking inspiration and to learn about what is in season. Pumpkins, squash, root vegetables (like turnips, beets, potatoes, taro, carrots, etc), and cruciferous vegetables are abundant right now and so tasty to roast with herbs of your choice. Top them with tahini and you’ve got a super simple, nourishing, grounding dinner. Another way to utilize fall produce is in warming breakfast soups. Pears and apples are also in season – quite literally falling off the trees! Instead of consuming these fruits raw, try sauteeing them with maple syrup and warming spices like cinnamon or stewing them into a sauce. Not only are cooked apples delicious but they also are incredible for healing your gut and providing prebiotic fiber. One fall ritual that feels extra nourishing is making weekly bone broths with mushrooms and herbs. You can sip on them throughout the week (another way to give a little extra love to your gut!) or add them to curries and stews. Change up your routine The shorter, darker days are nature’s way of telling us to slowwww down and rest. To keep things super simple you can aim to go to bed an hour earlier or wake up an hour later, depending on what your work and home life are like. With this new schedule, it’s a perfect time to adopt new rituals. For instance, swapping out a more strenuous evening workout for a form of slower morning movement could be really supportive. Give your immune system a boost Spending more time indoors makes it easier for cold and flu viruses to spread. The change of weather also tends to shock our bodies and immune systems alike. For those of us with kids, we know this all too well with the start of the school year. You can strengthen your immune system by incorporating herbs with antimicrobial properties like ginger, astragalus, garlic, elderberry, and mushrooms. Taking elderberry syrup daily is a fantastic way to stave off anything that might be going around or give you an added immune boost while traveling. It can also be used in higher doses if you or a family member have already come down with something. Now is also the time for getting your mushrooms in! Mushrooms are well known for their ability to stimulate and modulate the immune system, specifically via cytokines. You can add shitakes or whatever edible wild mushrooms you can get your hands on into your broths and meals or you can take medicinal mushroom supplements if that’s more your speed.