Ayurvedic Immunity Tea… mmmm delicious
Hello from Santa Cruz, California, where my husband, son and I have now been living for over a year. If you’ve followed my travels at all over the fledgling course of this blog you will know that this is a milestone in what has been our peripatetic gypsy life of the past seven or eight years, or ever since we got hitched!
So far, Santa Cruz is treating to surf, sunshine and an embracing yoga community – plus our son loves it here – especially our little beach house and his constant joy at being able play with his toys in one place, vs. taking only a few in a suitcase! – and most importantly (I think) – he has a little band of friends and loves both them and his school.
Yet even in this land of golden sunshine, Fall has arrived with even a few, short rainstorms, which prompted me to share some thoughts – inspired by a wisdom tradition I study: Ayurveda – on the changing season and how we can best sustain our immunity during these months of turning toward greater darkness.
According to Ayurveda, the ancient Indian philosophy of life, health and healing, Fall or Autumn is a time when the force of the Vata dosha (or bio-energy) – Vata translates as wind/air or space; is at its highest. To understand the quality of Vata, consider the quickness and coolness of autumn wind, the drying out quality of Fall, the leaves which start to lose their green vitality and juiciness and begin to prepare for a winter of sleep. You can also feel it in swift temperature changes throughout the day – the mornings and nights are cold here while during the middle of the day the sun is strident. The quickness of these changes can destabilise our physiology say the Ayurvedic sages and doctors – which is why – fall is traditionally seen as a time when it is easy for us to fall ill. If you think about the onset of winter cold and flu season, it generally begins right now and in Ayurvedic terms, this happens when we allow the instability and erratic-ness of Vata to destabilise us.
How can we allay the effects of this season and stay healthy? It’s more simple than you think. Since Vata is all about change-ability – we can counter that with it’s opposite: routine. This is a time when we both need to and can detoxify our bodies and minds by following a routine of gentle, sustained exercise such as yoga, healthful, whole foods and a regular sleep schedule. The more routine we can establish, the easier it will be for our bodies and minds to regulate and sustain our immunity as we make way for the cooler months to come. Plus if you look after yourself now, you can enjoy the festive season so much more. For more on a daily Ayurvedic routine, check this post out here on Dinacharya.
Detoxifying the liver is ideal now – as the liver has been working hard for us all year and needs some extra love. Here’s a simple recipe containing three powerful, immune superstar herbs that act together to support liver detoxification. According to traditional chinese medicine, the liver is most active between 1 and 3 a.m. and so it’s beneficial to drink this tea before bedtime. Honestly, I love it in the mornings also! Turmeric is known as both an anti-carcinogen and an anti-inflammatory; and works closely with black pepper which stimulates digestion and cleanses the body of excess kapha dosha (the watery/heaviness that can cause colds and excess mucous in our bodies). Ginger with its pungent kick is wonderful for improving circulation and warming the body. And the lemon and maple syrup add a delicious lift.
This recipe is adapted from Get it Ripe, a wonderful vegan cookbook by Toronto/Montreal based holistic nutritionist Jae Steele. My lovely friend Jen from Centre Luna Yoga in Montreal, shared the book with me and it is definitely one of my kitchen staples. This recipe is common in Ayurvedic cuisine. Turmeric, black pepper and ginger were essential ingredients in my grandmother’s, mother’s and any Indian/ Ayurvedic kitchen!
- 1 tsp grated turmeric root or 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp grated ginger root or 1/2 tsp dried ground ginger
- 2 – 3 twists of black pepper (from a pepper mill)
- 1 1/2 cups filtered water
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tsp maple syrup or to taste (you can use raw honey also, but be sure to let the tea cool a little bit before adding the honey)
Combine turmeric, ginger, black pepper and water in a saucepan on medium-high heat. (If you use turmeric powder, you can also toast the powder on a dry skillet for 30 seconds to a minute and allow it to get toasty and warm before you add it to the pot of water). Allow the mixture of herbs to simmer for 5 – 10 minutes; be careful not to boil. Strain and pour into a mug, add lemon juice and maple syrup to taste, stir and enjoy.
* ps. Turmeric stains a bright yellow so be careful with your countertops, clothing, dishtowels etc. I once had a security deposit deducted from a rent check as I left a turmeric stain on a kitchen countertop! 🙁 In fact turmeric is also used as a natural dye. If you have a glass saucepan, and a glass mug, use them as the colour won’t stain the glass.
** Be sure to use organic ingredients and non-irradiated spices.
Namaste + enjoy.