Although the days still feel long and hot, the crisp air of fall is right around the corner. There is a tendency for many of us to say that fall simply “snuck up” on us! Since weather patterns can be somewhat unpredictable at times, it can be helpful to utilize herbs that ease the transition between the warmer and cooler months. The more we work with supportive herbs as these changes start to take root, the more gradual the transition from summer to fall will feel. Read on to discover some of the ways herbs can help you transition seasons from summer to fall.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), summer is the only season that is divided between “early” and “late,” each with its own corresponding element. Early summer is connected with the fire element, late summer is connected with the earth, and fall corresponds with metal.
Although we will not dive deeper into the symbology of these elements in this article, bringing them to mind can help us differentiate between seasonal changes in terms of energetics. The hot and fiery early summer days give way to the slow and earthy latter days of summer and the crisp and cool “metal” days of fall.
Adopt an Herbal Ritual
Keeping a constant, daily herbal ritual can help keep you grounded throughout all of the changes that can occur during seasonal transitions. Daily rituals like this do not have to be complicated or drawn out. In fact, they can be as simple as preparing an herbal tea or taking an herbal tincture with intention every day. Adopting a simple herbal ritual like this can help stabilize you through all of the shifts that seasonal changes can bring.
5 Herbs to Help You Transition Seasons
Here are a handful of herbs that can help you transition seasons from summer to fall. Simply incorporating one herb can be helpful, or you can play around with formulating with different herbs and extraction methods.
1. Oats (Avena sativa)
In order to ease the transition between the warmer days of summer to the cooler days of fall, utilizing herbs that help nourish and stabilize the nervous system is key. Oats (including both oatstraw and milky oats) is an ideal herb for helping restore frayed nerves and calm anxiety (Holmes, 1989).
Think back to the easiest transitional periods of your life: when although everything was changing all at once, you felt balanced and handled each challenge before you with grace. One reason why we can respond to big changes instead of reacting is when we operate out of our parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”) instead of our sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”).
Using nervine herbs like oats daily can help you transition seasons from summer to fall gradually by allowing our parasympathetic nervous system to take the lead. Oats act as nervous system trophorestorative, or an herb that helps bolster up and restore the nervous system, so that you can experience that state of grace and ease when the cold fronts of fall appear this year (Holmes, 1989).
Fresh milky oats tincture or an overnight infusion of oatstraw are two great herbal rituals to utilize during periods of seasonal transition. Learn more about oats in our post here.
2. Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)
With any sort of seasonal change, emotions tend to run high and energies surrounding the heart can feel more strained than normal. Hawthorn is a valuable herb that can help you transition from summer to fall by strengthening the cardiovascular system as a whole and setting protective boundaries for the heart’s emotional energies (Bergner, 2012).
Our bodies respond to the onset of colder weather as a direct stressor, contracting and tensing the muscles in the body to keep warm. Colder weather can also increase blood pressure and blood clotting. Hawthorn can help strengthen the heart muscles themselves and increase blood flow to the heart without boosting blood pressure (Holmes, 1989).
You can use hawthorn leaf, flower, or berry as a daily heart-tonifying tea or tincture. Hawthorn berries also make a tasty herbal-infused honey. Learn more about hawthorn in our post here.
3. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
The first cold days of Fall can come as a shock to our body after the long, warm days of summer. In response, the muscles in our bodies can contract and “tighten up,” creating unintended congestion in our circulatory system. Ginger is commonly used as a premier circulatory stimulant to help get blood moving properly throughout the body and prevent stagnation (Holmes, 1989).
Energetically, ginger is considered a warm to hot herb (fresh ginger is more on the warming end and dried ginger is hotter). As a diaphoretic herb, ginger helps warm the exterior of the body and clears general symptoms of an environmental cold (Holmes, 1989).
Since sudden temperature drops push us to spend more time indoors and help common cold viruses to proliferate, feeling under-the-weather is a common symptom associated with the shift from summer to fall. Ginger lends support here by stimulating the immune system and fending off viruses in general (Holmes, 1989).
Ginger tea and ginger-infused syrup are both wonderful daily herbal rituals you can incorporate into your routine during the transition to cooler days. Learn how to make and use ginger syrup in our post here.
4. Burdock (Arctium lappa)
While the beginning of spring is always touted as the best time of year to clear stagnant energy and revitalize the body using liver detoxifying herbs, we can actually benefit from liver supporting herbs during all of the seasonal transitions, including summer to fall.
Burdock is considered an alterative herb, lending support for liver and skin health in particular (Hoffmann, 2003). Since burdock root is bitter in flavor, it stimulates the flow of digestive juices to assist in smooth digestion and bowel movements.
Burdock root is an herb that can help you transition seasons from summer to fall by bringing the body back into a state of balanced health (Hoffmann, 2003). Some of the main indicators of systemic imbalance are skin issues, so when the skin starts to clear after working with burdock consistently for a while, you are likely moving in the direction toward greater balance.
Incorporating burdock root in your herbal bitters formula is a great way to use this herb daily for seasonal transition support. Since burdock root is ideally harvested in the fall, you can also cook and eat the fresh root itself! Learn more about harvesting and using burdock in our post here.
5. Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum)
Since colder weather can incite our body’s stress response to ramp up, utilizing mild adaptogens like tulsi can be extremely helpful. Adaptogenic herbs help support a healthy stress response through balancing different processes in the body.
Tulsi works hand-in-hand with nervine restorative herbs like oats to help keep us in our “rest and digest” state through the challenges that seasonal changes bring. Tulsi is also used traditionally to open the heart and mind to allow clarity and receptivity into the body, both key pieces especially for those that feel guarded or clouded during seasonal transitions (Lad & Frawley, 1986).
The mild cooling action of tulsi can help ease the last few hot days of summer, especially when enjoyed over ice. Using tulsi as a tincture can allow you to take advantage of its invigorating vital stimulant properties. Discover 7 Ways To Use Tulsi Everyday in my post here.
Easing Into Fall
By drawing from herbal allies like those mentioned in this article and creating an herbal ritual that works with your lifestyle, it’s easy to use herbs to help you transition seasons. Looking for more ways to help transition through the seasons with herbs? Download our free ebook Herbal Teas Throughout The Seasons.
Bergner, P. (2012). Herbs for the spiritual heart. Medical Herbalism, 16(4), 1-6. Retrieved from: http://medherb.com/eletter/Spiritual-heart-only.pdf.
Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Holmes, P. (1989). The energetics of western herbs (Vol. 1). Cotati, CA: Snow Lotus Press.
Lad, V. & Frawley, D. (1986). The yoga of herbs: An Ayurvedic guide to herbal medicine. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.