Autumn invites a natural slowing down, not only in nature but also within our own rhythms. It is a sensational time of year, filled with earthy smells, harvests galore, and a natural energetic settling, as if to give a big sigh of relief after a bustling summer. It signifies a turning inward as we transition between summer heat and the cool of winter, especially in the active Bozeman community.
Herbs are a fantastic way to celebrate any season or transition. Bozeman abounds with herbs throughout the summer, but if you don’t grow or harvest your own, no need to worry. Dried herbs are readily available across the valley.
As we welcome in longer nights and shorter days, slower approaches, and reprieves from warmth and light, our bodies are adapting right along with these natural shifts. Digestion, in particular, slows during the fall transition, preparing for the harsh winter months. As our energy lowers, it’s good to tune in to this shift and honor nature’s rhythms and patterns.
One way to do this is to transition from cool salads to warmer foods, says MacKenzie Brosious, a clinical and community herbalist in Hamilton. Digestive herbs are another wonderful way to support our system and can be enjoyed as tinctures known as bitters. They are available at health food stores and are typically taken before meals to help your body absorb food and ease any digestive discomfort.
“If they were the only herbal thing folks used, their systems would be so much happier,” Brosious says. Bitters help the digestive tract strain a little less and ease the body a little more.
Brosious also suggests enjoying fennel, “because it is a gentle herb on the digestive tract,” and now is such a beautiful time of year to be gentle on ourselves. Peppermint, too, serves as a fall herb. “People consider it a cooling herb, but it is also a warming herb,” she says, adding that peppermint helps the circulatory system.
Many dried and tinctured herbs are available at health food locations around Gallatin Valley. If purchasing bulk, dried herbs, it’s important to store them in an airtight container and keep them in a cool, dark space.
While wonderful as tea, herbs are not only for drinking. Herbal steams help clear the lungs and sinuses; baths and soaks are good for topical troubles. Poultices and compresses can be applied directly to the skin or wound, while tinctures are ingested and are versatile and portable. Herb-infused vinegars, oils, and honeys are a decorative complement to a meal. Liniments, lotions, and salves are topical treatments that are fun to create and make super gifts.
Embrace the change of autumn and treat yourself gently by enjoying digestive herbs.