These five Ayurvedic herbs will help settle digestion, immunity, adrenal fatigue, stress, mood, and memory this season.
Why Winter is Hard on Us, Ayurvedically
With winter comes vata, and with vata comes the most challenging season to stay in balance, at least for many of us.
Winter foods are heavier and harder to digest and our immune systems are put to the test with cold and flu season. Plus, our nervous systems and adrenals are challenged as vata energy accumulates, not to mention the emotional stress of the holidays. Another winter challenge, even with longer nights, is prevalent insomnia.
How to Balance Vata Energy This Season
To balance the seasonal impact of vata, you want to support the body in the areas most challenged by vata, which are digestion, immunity, sleep, adrenal fatigue, and emotional stress.
Start with these basic vata-balancing lifestyle strategies:
- Daily Ayurvedic self-massage (abyhanga)
- Download our vata-balancing winter grocery list. Circle the foods you like and eat more of them this winter.
- Take supplemental vitamin D–learn how here.
Vata-Balancing Ayurvedic Herbs for Stronger Digestion
Studies show that the digestive system is stronger during winter months, allowing us to consume more dense foods, including nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, and tubers.
During winter, nature’s plan boosts digestive parasympathetic (rest and digest) activity and amps up amylase production to better break down the starch in grain.
While our digestion is stronger, stress, processed foods, snacking, eating late, and eating in haste can all block nature’s plan to bolster digestive strength each winter.
In Ayurveda there are five spices that are well studied to balance vata and support digestive strength, especially in winter–ginger, cumin, cardamom, coriander and fennel.
LifeSpa’s Gentle Digest formula consists of these five digestion-boosting spices. When combined, the synergy of these five spices combine to make a digestive formula that is greater and more effective than the sum of its parts. Gentle Digest helps to strengthen the coordinated effort of the upper digestive organs, supporting the stomach’s production of acid, the liver’s delivery of bile, and the timely addition of the duodenum’s and pancreas’s digestive enzymes.
How to take Gentle Digest:
Tale 1-2 capsules of Gentle Digest before meals as needed for stronger digestion, or when eating late or heavy meals.
Vata-Balancing Ayurvedic Herbs for Immunity
In the same way that digestion is stronger in the winter, studies have shown that human immunity is also stronger in the winter.
In a study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, researchers found that the shorter days of winter lead to a boost in killer T cells, as well as other immune system markers.
The body’s greater investment in immune strengthening is needed in the winter because opportunistic microbes take advantage of the colder, darker, and longer nights.
Once again, nature and Ayurveda have a plan for this. In Ayurveda, you go to bed early, eat regular meals, eat seasonally, and take vata-balancing immune boosting herbs.
Amalaki, loaded with immune boosting antioxidants, is harvested in the winter and spring. One of amalaki’s most amazing vata-balancing properties is how it uses its high vtamin C content to protect essential fatty acids in the body from becoming rancid, as well as remove rancidity so they can continue to boost immunity.
How to take Amalaki:
Take 1-2 capsules of Amalaki twice a day during the winter and early spring for immune support.
Ashwagandha may be the most well-studied of Ayurvedic herbs. If you were to take just one herb this winter, ashwagandha would be on the top of my list. Studies have found that it supports the healthy production of white blood cells during stress and immune events. In another study, ashwagandha was found to possess potent antioxidant properties while improving cell-mediated immunity.
Ashwagandha has also been found to support healthy and deep sleep cycles. In fact, it is named after its ability to support healthy sleep, which can bea challenge during the winter as vata levels rise.
How to take Ashwagandha:
Take 1-2 capsules of Ashwagandha twice a day during the winter and early spring for immune and sleep support.
Vata-Balancing Ayurvedic Herbs for Adrenal Fatigue and Stress
In addition to ashwagandha, there are a handful of herbs that have adaptogenic properties to ward off vata stress and winter fatigue. My favorites are in LifeSpa’s Adrenal Boost formula. This formula includes ashwagandha (of course), golden root (Rhodiola rosea), eleuthero root (Eleutherococcus senticosus), shilajit (Asphaltum punjabianum), and ginger root (Zingiber officinale).
As adaptogens, these five herbs can support healthy levels of energy without stimulating the nervous system. Stimulants, while tempting to take for an energy boost will, at best, stimulate your adrenals to make energy they do not really have, driving the body’s energy reserves into further debt. These five herbs allow the body to enjoy robust energy, endurance, and stamina during the day and deep sleep at night.
How to take Adrenal Boost:
Take 1-2 capsules of Adrenal Boost with breakfast and lunch for winter vata-balancing stress support.
Vata-Balancing Ayurvedic Herbs for Emotional Stress
Researchers have long known that emotional stress surges in the winter holidays, and many of us are left without the support we need. Of course from the Ayurvedic perspective, when vata rises during the winter there is a direct impact on the stability of the nervous system and ability to stabilize moods. Excessive vata can also impact the ability to focus, recall information, and maintain any sense of a healthy daily routine.
Perhaps the best vata-balancing herb to support healthy mood, memory, and focus is Ayurveda’s most revered brain, mood, and focus tonic, called Bacopa moneiria.
How to take Bacopa:
Take 1-2 capsules of LifeSpa’s Bacopa Boost with breakfast and lunch during the winter for better mood, memory, and focus.
Buy LifeSpa’s Winter Herb Kit and get 10% off the five supplements above.