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Winter Herbs

Winter is officially here and in true Ayurvedic tradition it is time for us to adjust yet again to acclimate to our surroundings so we can live in harmony. As we know by now, there are three different doshas in Ayurveda which are governed by at least two of the five elements (mahabhutas). These doshas, Vata (governed by air and ether), Pitta (governed by fire) and Kapha (governed by earth and water) not only apply to humans but also to seasons, times of day and periods throughout our life cycle.

Winter season is governed by a combination of both Vata and Kapha. The cold, dry, windy and vulnerable nature of Vata is prevalent in the earlier parts of the season, while the dark, inert, wet and earthy qualities of Kapha are more prevalent in late Winter and early Spring. By observing the qualities of nature throughout this season, we can use the wisdom of Ayurveda to help ourselves thrive during these few months.

Herbs are a great way to help heal and Winter is the perfect time to spice up your life. Digestive fire is strong at this time of year, which is why we’re usually more than happy to eat a little more than we might in the Summer. Specific herbs and spices can help warm the body and maintain agni (digestive fire). The best herbs to add to your winter diet are:

• Cinnamon – Cinnamon has qualities of pungency, warmth, and spice—all of which are balancing to both the Kapha and Vata doshas. Ayurveda considers cinnamon to be a vehicle of warmth and balanced stimulation for circulation, mood, and digestion.
• Ginger – In addition to stroking the digestive fire (agni), ginger also sharpens the appetite, aids the transportation of nutrients to targeted body tissues, and clears the microcirculatory channels of the body.
• Black pepper – Pungent quality of black pepper stimulates the heart, improves circulation and destroys mucous in the digestive track and sinuses.
• Nutmeg – Nutmeg is aromatic, astringent, and a sedative. It’s aromatic quality makes it ideal for improving digestion, while astringent quality helps bind the stool. Its sedative qualities make nutmeg ideal to calm nervines necessary to encourage absorption of heavy foods.

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