It's currently that weird in-between time when winter is turning to spring, and seasonal transitions are a time when we are especially vulnerable to colds and flus, as any of you who have had a dreaded spring cold can attest too! Here in New England, the weather famously goes back and forth much faster than our body's can keep-up with, and a week of warm weather in March can easily be follow-up by a blizzard. What are some ways you can stay healthy during this transition of winter to spring?
1. Stay Warm.
It's simple yes, but important. Resist the urge to leave the house without your trusty scarf and hat. Dress in layers. Even on the "warm" days!
2. Get enough rest.
Simply put, the more rest you get, the better your immune system works.
3. Stick with routines.
It's easy to get out of routines when seasons shift, but sticking to them is of the utmost importance! Keep-up with your winter routines. Don't let Daylight Savings mess-up your sleep routines- still get to bed early. Avoid shifting to new spring routines until spring is *really* here and the flowers are blooming and the bugs and birds have returned!
4. Emerge from the winter sloooooowly.
It's easy to jump right into things, but resist the urge.
5. Start eating more bitter foods.
Leafy greens like collards, chard, kale, and dandelion. Raddichio is an under-used bitter green that can be eaten raw in salads and is delicious. The bitter flavor wakes-up and nourishes the liver, the organ associated with the spring. Buy burdock root and start grating it fresh on your salads or putting it in your soups!
6. Start eating more sour foods.
Cranberries, citrus, berries, fermented veggies like saurkraut and kimchi, herbs like hibiscus and rose hips. The sour flavor invigorates and wakes-up the liver too!
7. Eat wild foods.
Any and all you can get your hands on! Dandelion Leaves (pictured left) are quite abundant in a our area and a wonderful bitter for the liver. Cranberry (pictured above) is a wonderful wild food that is extremely sour, so also a great one for the spring. Even though these ripen in the fall, they persist through the winter under the snow and even into the spring. They're a very hardy berry! And nutritious too, ridiculously high in vitamin C and outranking most common fruits and veggies in antioxidants. They are one of my favorite wild foods. Recipes and ID tips for wild foods on this blog abound! Search the "wild foods" and "eat the weeds" tags for more! Here are a few of my favorite wild food recipes: Wild Salad, Garlic Mustard Pesto, & Irish Nettles Soup
8. Take Digestive Bitters
Spring is an ideal time to tonify your digestive system and strengthen your organs of elimination- the bitter herbs do this. Some nice digestive herbs to work with include Dandelion, Burdock, Artichoke Lf, and Turmeric, for a start!
Here's an easy Bitters Recipe:
Turmeric Rt 1 part (fine to use the powder)
Dandelion Rt 1 part
Rosemary 1 part
Orange Peel 1/2 part
Fennel Seed 1/4 part
Directions: Mix your dried herbs together in a bowl. Pour into a glass jar. Cover with vodka (100 proof is best) until you have- by volume- about 4 times more vodka than you do herb. So the final ratio you are going for is 1 part herb: 5 parts vodka. Let it steep for at least one month, and longer if desired. Strain and pour into a glass bottle. Keep out of direct sunlight if possible or put into an amber jar. Take 1 tsp in a small amount of water (1/2-1 cup) 5-10 minutes before major meals. It's fine to take them after a big meal too if you forget!
9. Move your body!
It's easy to get antsy and frustrated this time of year, as we transition from the quiet and stillness of winter to the upward, outward, and expansive energy of spring. Movement helps you integrate this shift in energy and "go with the flow" with more ease.
10. Consider a kichari fast
In Ayurvedic Medicine, it's traditional to do a 5-7 day fast on just kichari- a basmati rice/mung bean stew that is full of spices. It gives your body a rest, so your organs of elimination can move-out accumulated metabolic waste and get to work! Recipe here
Once Spring is here, then you can start working on harmonizing with the spring. Read more about that here!
Are you wanting some support?
Consider an herbal consultation to get you "tuned-up" and ready for the spring! I can make you your own personalized bitters blend and/or herbal formula, and offer dietary recommendations, to help you emerge from the winter gracefully and in good health, ready to move into the spring and summer ahead!
Held at Blue Dragon Apothecary in Greenfield, MA
Tuesdays & Thursdays, by appt
Initial appt $75, Follow-ups $60
Friday Community Herbal Clinic, low-cost herbal consultations $35-75 siding scale
Happy almost spring all!.
Jade Alicandro Mace, community herbalist