Embracing Season Change

Posted 12.16.10 | Guest Blogger

Our post today is a guest blog entry from dietitian and clinical herbalist, Irene Czapary, MS, RD, LDN. Irene obtained her MS in Herbal Medicine from the Tai Sophia Institute, the first program in the country to provide a Master of Science in Herbal Medicine. Irene also holds a BS in Nutrition and is an RD, LD.We’d like to thank her for guest blogging for us.

During the autumn and winter seasons there are many things to look forward to: cooler weather, brilliant shades of yellow and orange leaves, cozy fireplaces and holidays spent with friends and family. But one thing that no one looks forward to is the increase of colds and flus. During the season change, many of us are more susceptible to catching colds and flus, making it a wonderful time of year to pay special attention to supporting your immune system.

For many adults and children coping with food sensitivities or allergies, this time of year can be especially challenging. Having an immune system that is already stressed by allergies makes it even harder to fight off cold and flu bugs. So, what can you do? Traditional herbal medicine has a great deal to offer in this area: herbs that can strengthen the immune system, decrease inflammation, and antimicrobial and antiviral herbs and spices are readily available in the produce department or possibly in your own kitchen cabinet!

Use this time of year as an opportunity to take special care of your body to make sure it has the tools it needs to stay strong and healthy during the colder autumn and winter months. The recipes below are a great way to get started.

This delicious earthy broth is chock full of shitake mushrooms, which contain the compound lentinan to support the immune system. Adding a handful of astragalus adds another immune boosting punch- as an immune modulator astragalus will help strengthen the immune system. Astragalus has also been traditionally used as a remedy for the respiratory system, making it a perfect addition to soups and broths when chest colds abound. Adding carrots, fennel and onions to the mix make it a flavorful and nutrient rich broth that can be used alone, as a base for other soups and stews, or used to cook rice, pasta, or other grains.

Mushroom Stock

Adapted from Dr. Weil.com

2 gallons of water

10 ounces fresh shitake mushrooms, washed and sliced

2 onions

4 stalks of fennel

4 carrots

Handful astragalus root slices

Sea salt to taste

Clean and chop all vegetables. Cover with water and simmer 1.5 hours.

Strain vegetables and mushrooms and discards (or add to the compost pile!)

What if you feel a cold coming on? Try ginger cinnamon tea! Ginger and cinnamon are both anti microbial and very warming, making it a very healing drink when those cold bugs are just latching on. Ginger can be very strong, so start with a more dilute tea for you and your little ones until you find the strength that’s right for you. Adding honey not only makes it sweet but is also soothing to sore throats. This tea is also great for calming the digestive system after heavy holiday meals.

Ginger Cinnamon Tea

Adapted from WebMD

1/2 cup fresh ginger, thinly sliced

6 cups water

2 cinnamon sticks

2 tablespoons honey

almond milk (optional)

In a saucepan, simmer ginger, honey, cinnamon, and water for 20 minutes. Simmer longer for stronger tea.

Add honey and strain tea through a sieve. Add almond milk, if desired.

Are your little one’s not tea drinkers? Try adding ginger powder and cinnamon to Nutricia’s Nutra cereal. This soothing, hypoallergenic cereal is a great base for mixing in powdered herbs and spices- not only will herbs and spices add a variety of flavors, but it will also make this already healing cereal even more medicinal. Enjoy!


Braun, L., Cohen, M. (2007) Herbs and natural supplements (2nd ed.).

Australia: Churchill Livingston.

Romm, A. (2003). Naturally healthy babies and children. Berkeley: Celestial Arts.

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