This time of year, many favorite herbs have disappeared from view and are hiding underground. A few of us have disappeared too, if only to enjoy a little ‘down time’ as the cool, dark, rainy weather beckons us inward. Shifting our activity levels with the change of season helps us adapt to the unfolding of the year and its energy requirements. Even as roots are living off of stored minerals, they are also gathering nourishment and ‘rest’ for the growing season soon to follow and it is a good time for people to do the same!
In many healing traditions, winter rules the kidneys and adrenal glands – storage roots for our physical energy. These organs enjoy rest. Sleeping more (or at least slowing down) and eating root vegetables are a great way to rejuvenate. There are plenty of roots available at your natural grocer, including: celery root, turnips, yams, radishes, rutabaga, parsnips, sun-chokes (also called Jerusalem artichokes), burdock root, beets and carrots. More condiment-type roots available are garlic, ginger, turmeric and horseradish, all of which have powerful medicinal value.
Raw garlic is highly antimicrobial, for keeping cold and flu bugs (and perhaps a few folks) at bay, while cooked garlic serves to help loosen plaque and lower cholesterol. Both ginger and turmeric are highly anti-inflammatory and cleansing, so work well as a team. Ginger is warmer and stirs up circulation and promotes sweating (which expels toxins) while turmeric is a strong liver detoxifier. Small peeled nubs of each of these roots can usually be pushed through a garlic press into sauces, dressings and stir-fry’. For an easy instant ginger tea: grate it fresh into the bottom of your cup, pour in the hot water and stir in your favorite raw honey. Then there is horseradish root with its upward moving energy which many of us have experienced eating too much wasabi paste! There is no better root for clearing the sinuses and stimulating the flow of lymph, plus, it’s anti-fungal.
Take this season to replenish your body, mind and spirit. Drinking root decoctions and eating roots with winter greens, mushrooms and sea veggies will help re-mineralize your bones and keep you grounded for the coming spring.