Published January 5, 2022 The same way we feel best when eating seasonally (strawberries in the summer, root veggie-packed soups in the winter), your herbal medicine cabinet and the allies you tend to reach for most will also change with the seasons. During the summer I’m always craving some chilled hibiscus tea in order to cool down my body and support my cardiovascular system in the heat. Yet as the cooler days approach, this herb gets cycled out — my priorities switch over to preserving heat instead of cooling it down, and my daily herbs move more towards immune support and keeping my respiratory system clear. As an herbalist who always has her cabinet packed, here are the remedies I shift towards as we move into the fall months! Elderberry Elderberries (consumed most often in the form of Elderberry Syrup) are potent tool to have on hand at home during the fall months. Well loved by the herbalists of ancient Europe, as well as many indigenous communities, the dark purple fruit of this plant has always been a revered tool for minimizing the severity and duration of seasonal health challenges, especially when taken at the first sign of imbalance. Elderberry syrup can be used all throughout fall and winter, or dosed more frequently in a pinch when traveling or exposed to a large number of people. Elderberries are fast-acting and support an engaged and present immune response, so be sure to use at the first sign of feeling run down during seasonal challenges. Thyme Warming and antimicrobial, this humble kitchen herb is ideal for supporting both lung and gut health. Thyme has been used for ages to warm and soothe the respiratory system with its rich aromatics, so potent you can smell them from across the room. Herbalist Rudolf Weiss once wrote, “thyme is to the bronchi what peppermint is to the stomach” — meaning thyme is able to relax, soothe, and keep things moving when you’re dealing with immune challenges. Thyme is such a potent kitchen medicine that we’ve included this herb in our Chest Comfort Syrup, our very own (herbal) version of a syrup you can use to soothe and support chest discomfort and coughs. Echinacea Nature’s most famous winter remedy, Echinacea helps support both the immune and the lymphatic system to assist the body’s natural production and movement of immune cells. By supporting the elimination of cellular waste via the lymph, Echinacea helps to speed recovery and call the body’s “clean-up” system into action. Echinacea functions primarily as an immune stimulating herb—which means it supports your immune system when it’s time to kick things up a notch. It’s often mistakenly thought of as an immune tonic or immune modulator, but the herb does not actually have any long-term strengthening, nourishing, or balancing effects on the immune system. Rather, it’s best to use this herb on an in-the-moment basis. Because the dried plant material has a relatively short shelf life, Echinacea is best consumed in liquid form: as an extract, tincture, or syrup. Similarly, if consumed fresh, echinacea tea has the same benefits. Echinacea also happens to increase saliva, which supports a healthy pH in the mouth and throat in order to support healthy boundaries when it comes to the immune system. When saliva and a healthy mucosal layer coat the throat, microorganism balance is easier to maintain in surrounding tissue. Energetically speaking, in the lens of TCM, Echinacea opens the exterior in order to dispel “wind and heat”. In traditional herbalism, it’s considered a “blood purifying” herb. Monarda A digestive ally and antimicrobial powerhouse, Monarda aka Bee Balm is one of our native North American allies that can support both your gut health and respiratory system all throughout fall. Monarda , similar to Thyme above, has a high volatile oil content and even shares the powerful antimicrobial compound “thymol.” While many people use this herb in vinegar and tincture form for its ability to protect against bacterial and fungal imbalances, Monarda’s benefits go far beyond seasonal bugs. This potent, spicy plant is considered to be a powerful digestive remedy and can be utilized in bitters — plus it also acts as a nervine, calming and relaxing both mentally and physically. Cayenne Cayenne is an excellent herb to utilize in the fall both topically and internally. In the lens of Traditional Chinese Medicine, fall is the season of the Lung meridian. Lung Qi controls our breath and affects our entire respiratory system: nose, throat, chest, and lungs, so it’s important to keep your Lung Qi in balance during the Fall months. Pungent (or spicy) foods in small amounts can nourish the Lung meridian in fall, as well as the lung and large intestine. This is why onion clears mucus from your lungs (sometimes it even makes your nose run as it’s pushing the mucus out). This is also why heavy spice can send you to the bathroom! That’s the large intestine moving thanks to the energy of spices such as cayenne. Pungent foods promote distribution of stagnant energy and blood circulation while stimulating appetite. They have a warming action, promoting energy to move upwards and outwards to the body’s surface. We love using Cayenne-Aid topically for aches and pains that pop up in the cold weather, and add a cayenne-pepper rich hot sauce to warm bowls of chicken soup. Calendula Calendula has countless benefits, including supporting the lymphatic system and ducts, aiding liver health (especially when ‘damp heat’ is present), soothing the digestive mucosa and other mucous membranes, warming the stomach, and helping to aid microbial balance both internally and topically. We need all the warming and lymphatic support we can get in the fall as the weather gets colder and our bodies start to feel sluggish, so Calendula is truly the perfect fall herb. As lymphatic tonics go, Calendula is a gentle mover that helps to promote the healthy circulation of your body’s innate immune cells. While you’re feeling under the weather, it’s important to keep your immune cells — such as your body’s Natural Killer cells — moving all throughout the body where they can do their best work. Did you know that you can add Calendula flowers to your chicken soup towards the end of a seasonal bug? With its lymph-moving properties, Calendula supports clearance of lingering, residual imbalances through your lymphatic system as you begin to enter the ‘convalescence’ or recovery stage. Simply add a handful of dried flowers to your broth or soup batch, and let them infuse for 20-30 minutes before straining and removing. You can watch my video about this here!