A Seasonal Approach to Herbal Medicine: Why It Matters
Nov 04, 2022
By Makayla Hawes
Our bodies have different nutritional needs throughout the changing seasons, and because of that, it’s important to eat in harmony with the seasons. As it grows colder, our bodies naturally cool down, so most of us start to crave warming foods, such as soups or stews, and veggies like sweet potatoes and butternut squash. There is a reason that our bodies let us know when it is time to feast on roasted veggies—or cooling foods like fruits in the summer. Our bodies have been cueing us in on this idea for thousands of years, and it’s a practice that dates back to Ayurvedic medicine.
In Ayurvedic medicine, the seasons can be broken up into three doshas, or elements:
- Vata (airy, colder) coincides with late autumn and early winter.
- Kapha (earth) begins in mid-winter and ends in the early spring.
- Pitta (fire) which starts in late spring and ends with the blazing summer months.*
* Please note: seasons listed for each dosha correlate to the Northern Hemisphere’s seasons.
It is also worth noting that each of us has our internal constitution that also coincides with these doshas! If you are curious to learn what dosha you align with or what herbs are best for your dosha, try out our Find Your Fix Quiz, which we created based on this Ayurvedic principle.
Our doshas can vary and also change with the seasons (and with age). So how do we work with our personal doshas and doshas of the season? Sure, we can make sure our fruits and vegetables are in season. But if you want to take it to the next level, you can also take your herbs on a seasonal basis!
Late Fall + Early Winter - Vata Season
During the fall and winter seasons (vata), we often crave warming spices like nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, and ginger. All of these carminative herbs (which are known to stimulate digestion) are helpful at a time when the air is colder for half of the world and our digestion might be a bit more sluggish. The perfect Apothékary blend for the fall time is Releaf. This blend was formulated to not only support digestion through carminative herbs like ginger and clove, but to also protect our immune systems at a time when illness is more rampant. This blend is also formulated with elderberry, which is perfect to take at the start of the fall and winter seasons to ward off illnesses.
Late Winter + Early Spring - Kapha Season
During kapha season, we experience the coldest winter months and head into early spring. Think “hibernation” during this season, as we often feel a bit more sluggish during this time. For kapha season, we can still use warming herbs to reduce sluggishness or lethargy in the body; I recommend Follow Your Gut. This blend is supportive of digestive health, as well as inflammation, with the use of turmeric, ginger, black pepper, and cayenne. If you naturally have a colder constitution (one sign is sluggish digestion), these warming herbs work great to get things moving.
As we head into the spring season, we can focus on bitter, leafy greens that can stimulate and lend a helping hand to our detoxification pathways! Bittersweet Symphony, our “spring cleaning” blend, features nettle, burdock root, Schisandra berry, and chlorella. These plants are all great for supporting your body with minerals, as well as helping support your body’s elimination pathways: the liver, kidneys, digestive tract, lymphatic system, respiratory system, and skin.
Late Spring + Summer - Pitta Season
Lastly, we have pitta season, which falls from late spring into summer. As temperatures rise, we move away from craving warming foods to lighter and cooling fare. Float Your Bloat was specifically formulated with the warmer months in mind. Marshmallow root is a demulcent herb which means it creates this mucilaginous film that works great at soothing irritated mucosal linings in our body. Float Your Bloat can be enjoyed in cold water, making it a perfect option for the warmer months. Another blend I prefer for the pitta season is our Firm Believer blend. The warmer season can often dry out our skin from excess sun, so it is great to have some herbs in your arsenal to combat that. Firm Believer uses camu camu, horsetail, schisandra berry, and sea buckthorn all support skin health and “cool down” the skin with the naturally tart flavor they provide. Schisandra berry in particular is well-known for its skin-supporting capabilities with its high antioxidant content. A single herb worth highlighting is hibiscus. It’s definitely my favorite for a summery cold infusion and makes a great combination with Float Your Bloat that way.
Makayla is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and has studied with Commonwealth Herbs. Currently, she is a Wellth Advisor at Apothékary with hopes to expand into her own practice someday. Makayla is passionate about helping women learn about their bodies by aligning their diet, lifestyles, and exercise to be in balance with their body’s needs. Currently, she resides in Las Vegas, NV, and enjoys hiking various trails and visiting the National Parks in the area.