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Ayurveda Tips for Autumn

dramatic fall tree
September 1 2013

Susan Fauman, Ayurvedic clinician, shares some of the wisdom about daily conduct and food that Ayurveda offers to ease our transition into autumn.

As the air dries and becomes cooler in the autumn, our system dries out as well and we may experience anxiety, insomnia, constipation, dry skin and cracking joints.

Abhyanga, or application of oil to the skin before bathing, can be of great benefit at this time of year. Try using organic sunflower oil with a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Warm the oil gently and massage it over your whole body before taking a warm shower.

Increasing oil in your food is also a good idea.

Autumn meals should be warm and grounding. It is a good time of year for soups and stews to come back into the diet. If you have a slow-cooker or a crock pot, now is the time to start using it again.

10658979_10205313705581703_2822324978732436861_oRest also becomes more important this time of year. Make sure to get a full night’s sleep, and take naps if you can to keep your immunity strong. Rest is the number one factor which helps to reduce the experience of “windiness” or vata dosha in the body and mind.

Autumn Food List

There are many foods which help protect us against the dry wind of autumn:

  • Pears are emphasized in Chinese medicine in the fall. The texture of them helps to moisten the lungs without making them too damp. As we move towards winter, it is a nice idea to cook them with herbs.
  • Persimmons are a wonderful fall fruit. They are mild and light, help to dissolve phlegm, and reinforce the digestive energy. Persimmons are especially good when there is a heat condition in the lungs with cough.
  • Almonds reinforce the strength of the lungs. They balance all the doshas and create harmony. It is a good idea to soak them and remove the skin, as it is irritating to the mucosa of the digestive tract.
  • Turnips strengthen the lungs.
  • Lotus Root is also good for the lungs. It is very healing to lung tissue and helps alleviate damp cough. You can buy it at any Asian grocery.
  • Astragalus and Reishii mushroom. This combination strengthens the lungs and improves immune response and the ability to fight external attack. It also strengthens the transformation of dampness and fluids which tend to collect in the lungs.
  • Celery is a good kidney, blood, and intestinal cleanser. This is important in the autumn so that our systems are functioning well and are un-burdened as we enter into the winter.
  • Shitake mushrooms are rich in amino acids and are anti-viral and anti-tumor. They are protective of the liver and therefore, helpful in situations where the liver has been under stress (after illness, use of prescription or recreational drugs, etc.).

Some useful spices include:

  • Cardamom seed is wonderful in milk, stewed fruit, fruit pastries or milled wine.
  • Cumin seed lightly toasted is a great addition to grains (particularly rice) and root vegetable dishes.
  • Fennel seed is nice digestive aid which is not overly-heating. It can be used in sweet or savory dishes. It helps to reduce gas.
  • Hing (Asafoetida) is very strong smelling. It is used to reduce gas in dishes with pulses and legumes. A very small amount of it is needed. Its strong smell dissipates with cooking. Once cooked, it has a pleasant, caramelized onion flavor.
  • Ginger can be used dried in the winter, but fresh is still nice. It can be used in just about anything.
  • Turmeric is a wonderful medicine. It is warming and very healing.
  • Sage is a great addition to dishes with root vegetables.
  • Saffron is a wonderful blood/circulation medicine. It is great in savory or sweet dishes.