During winter and spring we have always to keep in mind the winter routines to protect ourselves from low temperatures and obviously to have in our herbalist’s shop the spices and herbs that help us to warm the body at this time of year. With them we compensate for the attributes of this season and prevent them from accumulating in us and later be unbalanced, especially in Spring. Because if during the winter we do not protect ourselves well, in Spring all this snow that we have accumulated through bad routines will melt and cause us allergies or asthenia among others.
So let’s see which spices and herbs are indispensable during these seasons.
In first position we find ginger.
Shunti in Sanskrit. A fundamental species in all kitchens that stimulates the digestive system, although it also works in the respiratory system. It is a stimulant, carminative and expectorant species among others.
A very important property of ginger is that it is sattvic, promotes calm mental states and clear vision. In Ayurveda its use is universal as it appears in most preparations. Ginger powder with honey helps the Kapha constitutions, fresh ginger is better for Vata and Pitta constitutions, since powder is drier and could dry Vatta, or stimulate Pitta too much.
Twak in Sanskrit. Cinnamon is sweet, spicy, astringent and hot, so Pitta does not unbalance so easily if we consume it regularly. Highly valued in Ayurveda. Cinnamon gives strength to the circulatory system, especially the heart. It helps Agni and improves digestion, a fundamental process to preserve health according to Ayurveda. It also soothes tooth and muscle pain. We cannot forget its expectorant and diuretic power, so it is very beneficial in pathologies of the respiratory system. Finally add that it is sattvic, so it promotes mental calmness.
So this winter we have to add a pinch of cinnamon to breakfast or snack, improving our body with all its magnificent qualities.
Lavanga in Sanskrit. With their wonderful smell and shape, they are a perfect stimulant for the stomach and lungs. Warm and penetrating they disinfect the lymphatic system. Their essential oil is a powerful analgesic, perfect for toothache, try chewing a clove and it will disappear. Be careful as it has rajasic properties, and can over-energize our system and irritate us.
This species is known as Jatiphala in Sanskrit. It is a warm and penetrating species so it is very suitable in winter, always in reduced doses, no more than half a gram a day. It helps a lot in digestive problems such as gas, pain and diarrhea, reducing Vata in the colon. It is also indicated to calm the nervous system, helping us to sleep if you suffer from insomnia, for this it would be taken with hot milk before sleeping. We must be careful with its tamasic properties (mental attribute, guna), i.e., that numbs the mind, and not take it in excess. We must also take precautions if we are pregnant.
Rashona in Sanskrit means “it lacks a flavor”, in Ayurveda there are six flavors and from them only the acid is missing; spicy in its roots, bitter leaves, astringent stem, salty the tip of the stem and sweet seeds.
Garlic is a rejuvenating species, Rasayana, especially for Vata and to a lesser extent for Kapha. It also helps us cleanse the body, so it helps us in fevers, cleanses Ama (toxins) and excess Kapha in the blood and lymphatic system.
Very useful during the winter to avoid colds and flu, but better avoid it in summer because its hot and spicy power, can unbalance Pitta dosha and produce hyperacidity. It is also used for hypertension and cholesterol as it cleanses the blood, so it also goes well for skin problems.
Sacred herb in Hinduism with even a deity with his name, Tulasi. Tulsi in Sanskrit. Its hot potency and spicy flavor makes it suitable for Winter and Spring. Its sattvic qualities help us to calm the mind and grow love and compassion in us. It is a good diaphoretic so it is very useful during fevers, and helps us eliminate excess Kapha in the lungs and nose, improving prana (life energy, breathing). It also helps us to have Vata under control, giving strength to the nervous tissue.
A very good herb to always have at hand in our herbalist’s shop.
Maricha in Sanskrit, a solar name, reminding us that its energy comes from this star, so its hot power and spicy flavor will help us control Vata and Kapha in winter and spring.
Black pepper is one of the most potent digestive stimulants, it burns Ama (toxins) and cleanses the entire digestive tract. Combine it with other herbs and winter spices in infusion helps us clear the sinuses of nasal congestion. We can also take it with some honey (a third teaspoon of black pepper powder dessert wrapped in honey, in case of flu or a cold).
We also recommend its use to combine it with meals with cold power, such as cucumber, thus compensates its effect and improves food digestion.
However, it is necessary to be careful with its consumption since it can have an irritating effect if abused, and produce inflammations, as well as unbalance Pitta dosha.
His name is Haridra in Sanskrit. It is said that turmeric cleans at all levels, gives strength to the ligaments, so it can be useful in case of sprain, both consumed internally as if we make a filling with honey. Nevertheless it is not recommended to consume an excess of continuous form because it can get to dry us, unbalancing Vata.
It is a natural antibiotic that improves the intestinal flora, it also improves our digestion and the assimilation of proteins. We recommend its culinary use, adding turmeric to meals, a dessert teaspoon, to give strength to our body during these seasons.
Enjoy these two wonderful seasons!