Herbs for Autumn
Nat Mady, the Hackney-based permaculturist, takes us through the herbs that can support us through this seasonal transition towards winter.
Autumn is the time of year when many plants are transcending into the next phase of their life cycle. Some herbs, like fennel, are channeling energy to ripen seeds, whilst others, like dandelions and echinacea, are focusing energy back into their roots to create a store for the winter.
Many plants will be shredding their leaves as they head towards their winter dormancy, a time of stillness, rest and reflection. At this time hedgerows and wild thickets are abundant with many edible and medicinal fruits and berries. And as the colder weather arrives, alongside shortening days, there are many herbs that can support us through this seasonal transition towards winter.
An important antiviral herb for the respiratory system.
Thyme is an expectorant herb, which aids the discharge of mucus and phlegm. It’s a good herb for the lungs and can be used for cough, colds and chest infections.
To make a tea, combine 1 teaspoon of dried thyme with a slice of ginger, squeeze of lemon and honey.
A powerful stimulant to the immune system.
Echinacea has been shown to shorten the duration of colds and flu.
An infusion of the leaves can be taken to support the immune system throughout winter. A tincture can be helpful for when you are feeling run down or for lingering colds. Yarrow
An astringent herb commonly used for wounds, yarrow is also an effective winter remedy. It is a diaphoretic herb, which means it encourages sweating and can be effective for treating a fever.
A go to tea blend for the common cold can be made by combining equal parts of yarrow, peppermint and elderflower.
Rosehips are the fruits of the rose plant and a wonderful thing to forage for the autumn and winter. They are packed with vitamin C, antioxidants and minerals providing support to our immune system throughout this seasonal transition.
A spicy warming drink can be made by combining a handful of rosehips, with
a few teaspoons of your favourite spices. Combine ingredients with 2-3 cups of water and simmer for 15 minutes before straining and sweetening if desired.
Elderberries are packed with vitamin C, antiviral and stimulating to the immune system making them an important herb for winter health.
They can be used to make teas, cordials, jams, syrups and infused vinegars that can be enjoyed all winter long.
An antibacterial herb and tonic for the respiratory system. The bitter root of elecampane can be taken to soothe congested coughs, asthma and bronchitis. The dried root can also be used to make a sugar or honey based cough syrup.
Nat Mady is a Hackney-based permaculturist with a passion for connecting people with nature in their urban locality. In 2015, she founded Hackney Herbal to promote wellbeing with the use of herbs. This social enterprise is also a way to share knowledge about plants and their many creative uses.
Nat is the author of 'Enjoying Wild Herbs' from a series of pamphlets created by Rough Trade Books in partnership with Garden Museum.
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