Nourish Your Immune System

In the North we’re adjusting to shorter days, cooler temperatures, dampness, and, for many, allergy-provoking leaf mold.

During this fall transition, herbs that uplift, warm, keep things moving in the body, and support immune function are welcome supports to self and family care.

In herbal language, a tonic herb or combination of herbs are used to optimize healthy function, restore a challenged body, and maintain well-being.

I keep a pot of this soup on the stove through most of the cold months – it reminds me of  Baby Roo’s tonic from Winnie the Pooh.

Sara’s Tonic Miso Soup

  • Chop 3 large onions. 
  • Lightly saute with a handful of Shiitake mushrooms in just enough virgin olive oil so they don’t stick to the pot.
  • Add 4 cups water.
  • Add miso paste to your taste – red miso for a hardier and white miso for a lighter flavor.
  • Add 4 strips of Astragalus root.
  • Simmer 45 minutes.
  • Add handfuls of baby spinach just before serving, stir until thoroughly wilted.
  • Remove Astragalus root before serving.

Astragalus root (Astragalus membranaceus), a member of the pea family, is a mildly sweet and warming herb that can often be found in Asian groceries. The slices  look like tongue depressors.

Astragalus is used traditionally in Chinese medicine to nourish the body and protect it from invasion. In Western Herbalism Astragalus is used as a general tonic, to enhance immune function, especially resistance to recurring respiratory  infections.

You can also prepare Astragalus in a traditional way by baking or stir-frying it with honey and a little water to enhance its nourishing qualities.

For a more robust and heating preventive if you are fighting off cold or flu:

French Garlic Syrup

  • 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsps fresh or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 Tb honey
  • Cover the garlic with honey, and let sit for 2-3 hours.
  • Crush to extract all the juice, and strain.
  • Drink 1 tsp 3x/day or more.

(From Anne McIntyre’s Drink to Your Health, Simon and Schuster 2000.)

Fall Rhythm Tip:

It is normal to gravitate towards more carbohydrates and more rest as we shift seasons. Give some thought to adjusting your routine to be more in harmony with the season in the best ways for you and your household.

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