Winds of change

It’s definitely autumn all of a sudden. In traditional medicine, you can predict that people are more likely to be ill in spring and autumn; it’s as though the change in the air stirs things up inside you. Sometimes it’s acute illnesses like coughs, colds and stomach upsets, and sometimes it could be an upsurge in a chronic problem – rheumatic pains, anxiety, irritable bowel.
If you know this is likely, you can take steps to ward it off, or at least reduce it to a minor event. The obvious things are the symptomatic herbs, like Echinacea for your immune system or Evening Primrose for joints. At the deeper level, though, the herbs that really change how you respond to autumn’s challenges are the ‘tonic’ herbs. Some raise energy, like Ginseng or Sarsaparilla, while others feed your nervous system, like St John’s Wort, Vervain, Oat Straw and Withania.
What you choose, and how you combine them, will depend on your individual needs. Remember that the Ginsengs should not be taken when you have an acute infection, and not for more than six weeks or so if you are under seventy. St John’s Wort should not be combined with anti-depressants or certain other drugs. But these are just examples, and there are many other possibilities. If you’re uncertain, consult a professional. And if you’re on a long-term prescription, it’s a good idea to review it at this time of year, and maybe shake things up a little. That’s what the autumn weather is doing anyway, so rather than trying to avoid it, let the winds of change blow through.

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