Here you will find recipes for medicine making, important botanicals to have on hand, and our featured botanical for the season
the transitional weeks of Autumn open a window of vulnerability in our systems in which illness + depletion can thrive. The following botanicals + remedies should be used freely during this seasonal metamorphosis to Cultivate a constitutional hardiness and vitality needed for these times.
Medicine Making for Autumn
There are literally thousands of remedies that can be made and serve you well in the Autumn months, but the ones I share here are specifically tailored for maximal impact and easy accessibility. Tending to our largest organ, the skin, comes first, followed closely by one of my favorite (and incredibly delicious) cure-all’s. Most ingredients you likely have on hand, and if not, any local market, farm or herb shop will do the trick. Read on to learn more about specific botanicals to have in your medicine cabinet this season.
Skin Savers for Seasonal Shifts
With all of the demands Autumn brings (both physical and emotional) our largest organ, the skin, is often desperate for support. No matter what variation your skin presents at this time (irritated, dry, and oily all at once anyone?), these simple yet profound skin savers are easy carry their weight in gold. The best part? You can whip them up in your kitchen in under 10 minutes with ingredients you likely have on hand.
SOOTHING + HYDRATING FACIAL STEAM
BETA-CAROTENE FACE MASK
Cure-All: Sage + Honey Oxymel
Oxymel's are one of the easiest and most delicious herbal preparations to make.
This ancient tradition combines three simple ingredients: vinegar, herbs, and honey. Aside from the herbs you carefully select to use, additional medicinal benefits are offered from the apple cider vinegar and raw honey, making this quite a powerful remedy. This is why Oxymel formulas have continued to be passed down for centuries (they date back to the 15th century, at least). Often considered a specific remedy for lung issues, colds, and sore throats, Oxymels can treat a wide range of issues and are also good for overall health maintenance (and stimulating digestive fire and warming the body)! They can be enjoyed by anyone 1 year in age and up, making this a favorite remedy for both the young, old, and in between.
Out of all formulas, my favorite for Autumn is a Sage + Honey Oxymel. Sage is a rock star when it comes to fighting colds, flu, fever, and coughs. It is beneficial for mucous membrane irritation (like sore throats), and is excellent at healing moist coughs. Sage has astringent and antibacterial and antiviral properties as well, and above all, it tastes absolutely delightful. Before you give this remedy a shot, make sure you read the precautions below.
Precautions: Sage is contraindicated in pregnancy due to its abortifacient effect, and it is also contraindicated in lactating women due to the possibility of reduced milk flow (although in some women it can actually increase milk production). Proceed with caution and understanding if using this herb, or omit or lessen the amount used. Always consult an experienced healthcare professional.
*Note: White Sage is an endangered species, so please use culinary sage/common sage for this preparation.
SAGE + HONEY OXYMEL
The Medicine Cabinet
Staying well + vital during the cooler months requires developing a keen ability to listen to our body + the messages it shares with us. The messages are usually straightforward and the remedies simple: if you are tired, rest; if you are overwhelmed, seek solitude. When we override our body's requests, sickness steps in to help us remember. The following botanical remedies are here to guide us during this time of great transition, and support us when we may not be listening.
Nearly identical to the color palette of Fall, Turmeric is a warm, energizing botanical that helps us ten fold on the darkening days of Autumn. A heavy hitter in the wellness world, mostly known for its potent anti-inflammatory properties, Turmeric is a spice that is best combined with a pinch of black pepper, as it then becomes activated and bioavailable for optimal absorption of it’s benefits. As we enter a season known for stress, inflammatory foods, and relentless viruses, Turmeric keeps us warm and energized as it neutralizes inflammation and boosts our immune systems. Turmeric is a botanical ally that can be used daily, and with the simplest creativity, can be used thousands of ways.
How to use it: Turmeric comes in many forms (capsules, loose powder, fresh root, etc), and I personally enjoy its various compositions for different reasons. Fresh Turmeric is a beautiful addition to soups, juices, and smoothies, either in its solid or liquid form. Loose powder can be used virtually any which way. Dosages vary depending on how you take it, but trying to get a half a teaspoon per day to start. Some of my favorites include Turmeric lattes, seasoning for vegetables or proteins, soups, or hummus. This spice is so incredibly versatile, a quick recipe search or experimentation in the kitchen should yield many different joyful ways to try it!
Native to North America and a staple in folk medicine for centuries, Elderberry, also known as Sambucus nigra are a small dark purple/black berry that are poisonous until ripe. When cooked (mostly to ensure safety and to bring out their delicious flavor), they produce a deep magenta-hued syrup that support the immune system with special affinity for the respiratory system.
How to use it: One of the biggest misuses of Elderberry (mostly Elderberry syrup) is that folks begin taking it when they are already sick. Although this practice will ease your symptoms a bit and allow you to heal quicker, the best way to use Elderberry is actually as a preventative medicine. At the beginning of Autumn, I make a gigantic batch of syrup that we take daily until late Spring (about 1tsp-1tbs, for kiddos and adults). If someone falls ill, I’ll make Elderberry lozenges to soothe sore throats and coughs, or Elderberry gummies with extra collagen and gelatin to support a depleted system. When made into a syrup or jam, the possibilities are vast, and can be enjoyed drizzled over pancakes, stirred into oats, blended into smoothies, and more.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar, also known as ACV is a fermented concoction rich in enzymes and probiotics that is especially useful this time of year. Making sure to choose organic and unpasteurized ACV is important, as without the beneficial bacteria this medicine isn’t nearly as strong. ACV has a long list of uses, anywhere from skin toner, window cleaner, or digestive stimulant, and chances are you are pretty familiar with this wonderful elixir.
How to use it: Incorporating apple cider vinegar into your wellness routine could not be any easier. Start the morning off with a tablespoon of ACV diluted in a cup of water to balance pH, get the digestive juices flowing, and warm the body from the inside out. Drizzle on salads, stir into soups, add to medicines (such as Elderberry syrup!), or make an Oxymel for a more targeted approach. One of my favorite and lesser known uses for ACV is to add a cup or two to a warm bath for a warming and soothing full-body soak.
Botanical Spotlight: Mugwort
In the old European calendar, the year started in November. This time of darkness was the beginning of the year—a time swirling with revelations, dreams, magic, and turning inward. There is no other herb that compliments this seasonal vignette better than Mugwort, and many herbalists and plant folk agree. Her ability to thin the veil between “our” world and “theirs” is something you can’t really explain, you just have to feel it...
Six years ago I began working with Mugwort.
Truth be told, from the moment I held her leaves in my hand I could feel a palpable powerful energy. This sparked my obsession with getting to know plants on a deeper level than textbooks or teas. I later found out that Mugwort is known as a gateway herb—her medicine often sparks deep reverence for the botanical world by both newcomers and seasoned plant folk alike. Through her gifts I am able to continually and consistently tap into the needs, uses, and personalities of other plants (amongst other things), and this is why Mugwort is cherished in my life whether in my body, on my body, or around my home, daily.
Artemisia vulgaris is deeply associated with the moon, and the goddess Artemis, which is in turn associated with the cycles of womanhood and the sacred. The history of its uses and reverence in history are vast, simply indicated by “wort” as this is an old term for plants that are particularly useful in nature. She is a powerful herb, capable of affecting the mental/emotional, reproductive, digestive, urinary, and respiratory tracts. More so than any other action, Mugwort is known for its ability to strengthen our connection with Spirit, and by nature, has an incredible ability to work wonders in our dream world.
It is this affinity for the dream world and "other" realms that makes it a fantastic botanical to study and familiarize yourself within the magical months of Autumn. Judith Berger writes:
"[Mugwort] allows us to live in several worlds at once, expanding and nourishing the habit of drawing our gaze before us to that which is visible, and behind us to that which is invisible. Regular use of [Mugwort] strengthens our ability to absorb intuitive information as we preserve an aspect of sharpness in our interaction with the complex, topside world."
Fostering a relationship with Mugwort
Similar to a first date, developing a relationship with any botanical takes time, and shouldn't be rushed. At first, simply admiring the plant in its whole (preferably alive and growing) form can generate an understanding unmatched by any plant monograph or textbook writing. Mugwort prefers to grow in disturbed areas such as city streets and construction sites, vacant lots, along railroads, edges of woods, and in prairies. It is very tolerant of a wide range of weather conditions making it fairly easy to find no matter where in the world you live.
Most of us will have access to this botanical in its cultivated and dried form (if you are a Heritage member, you received this is in your seasonal apothecary box!). The following are my most highly recommended methods to exploring and fostering a relationship with Mugwort:
1. As a body oil: I feel the most magical way of taking in her medicine is through herbal body oiling. Used in this way, our nervous systems drop into a trance like state and allow us to truly integrate what Mugwort (and other herbs) have to offer. There is one in the shop, our best seller, that takes this practice to the next level. You can order it here.
2. As a smoke: By burning a single dried leaf (or the whole bundle), you can cleanse your space and yourself. The smoke from Mugwort has a particular affinity for accessing the dream world, so I highly recommend this practice before bed. Whether your treats are pleasant or a bit scary, know that Mugwort is providing you a unique change to learn more about your dream world. Make sure you check out the Sleep Module in the Foundations of Health course for more information on slumber and the dream realm.
3. As a tea: A rich source of vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin A, and minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron, Mugwort makes for a very nourishing tea. Add 1 tsp of herb per cup of hot water. Steep 3-5 minutes, and add honey to taste. Do not drink the tea consistently for more than 1 week.
CAutions + contraindications
Mugwort, a member of the Artemisia species and close cousin to Ragweed can be irritating to some due to its high pollen content. All Artemisia species may be toxic in large doses or with chronic use. It is contraindicated in pregnancy when taken internally, and when applied externally it should be used sparingly in those who are in the first and second trimester. As with anything, be smart, use your intuition, and always check in with your healthcare team before starting a new practice.