The summer holidays are just a distant memory, the kids are back into the rhythm of school and autumn is on our doorstep.

What happens to nature in Autumn? Well one of the first things we remark are the leaves that change colour, going from a myriad of different shades of green to orange, copper, brown, red, yellow, this is often a beautiful site. The leaves change colour however because they are no longer irrigated by the circulating fluids within the tree, a small plug of woody material gradually blocks the entrance at the base of the leaf (at exactly the point where the leave will eventually break off) and bit by bit the arrival of water and minerals is reduced and due to this the level of chlorophyll (that makes the leaves green) decreases, this is part of the process leading towards the winter period of silent dormance.

As we are part of nature, even though we are tucked away in our centrally heated, insulated houses we too are affected by autumns transition. The circulation in our lives and bodies is less vigorous, at this time of year maybe our hair is falling out more and seems drier, we feel tired. Instinctively we start to prepare for winter, getting a stock of wood in, preserving the surplus vegetables from the garden, concentrating on making our homes feel homely. This is a transition period and the movement leans towards interiority, it is necessary and healthy to follow these natural rhythms.

Autumn is a period of purification and elimination both on a physical and emotional level, be ready to let go not only of toxins but of old feelings and emotions, feelings of sadness can often come up during this time too.

Sensitive to the changing seasons, I have learnt to allow these, sometimes uncomfortable emotions to rise, I try to welcome them and then let them go on their way, feeling them keeps them moving, trying to ignore them will block them in the physical body and this is when illness and disease can bed in.

Making sure that you spend time alone is important, time to quieten down after summer’s activity, time to let go of unwanted thoughts and feelings, time to feel nostalgic, sad even and time to assess where one is and where one is going.

I often glide between inner work, writing, and contemplation and outer activity linked to preparing for winter. Summer may be gone but Autumn is a wonderful period for being close to nature, harvesting chestnuts, nettle tops and wild fruit, sitting and contemplating, listening to the birds, enjoying the colours and the beautiful light at this time of the year. I try and go slowly, no need to rush, observing and just being are also part of these activities. Trying to sense my way with my instincts rather than with my mind. 

The good news is that there are many different things we can do with herbs to help us optimise and benefit from nature’s rhythms. There is no ‘formula’ so to say, the best thing to do in my opinion when choosing herbs for oneself or a patient in order to help ride the waves of autumn’s transition is work with one’s intuition. There are already many clues indicated by the vegetable world at this period, using what is available from natures autumn offerings is a very good place to start and at the same time as choosing remedies for the seasonal change, autumn is a major time for harvesting roots and berries for the rest of the year.

The first, of course that comes to mind is good old dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis), what would we do without it? A wonderful plant all year round, have you noticed there are plenty of young rosettes that have popped up everywhere, the freshest leaves are great added to salads and cooked vegetables and their diuretic action will help free us of those unwanted toxins. It is also the optimum moment to collect the roots, the energy is entering the earth at this time and the ground isn’t yet too hard for digging and it is now that the roots taste their best, a sure sign that it is the moment to harvest them. They are exactly what we are looking for, everyone tends to think of dandelion’s action on the liver, which is very true, acting gently to cleanse the liver, gall bladder and pancreas and stimulate the secretion of bile but dandelion is also an excellent kidney tonic and drainer, helping drain toxins and unwanted emotions. Read the rest of this entry »