The deep red, orange and yellow leaves rustle in the crisp autumn wind. Day by day the sun sets a little earlier and the nights get cooler. Fall time. That magical transition between the heat of summer and the chill of winter where nature sheds the old before hibernating and beginning anew. So many iconic flavors and smells permeate the air this time of year but one of the most iconic is Pumpkin Spice. What is it about this blend of sweet and spicy herbs that we all love so much? Even the smell seems to soothe and comfort bringing thoughts of cuddling in front of the fire while scents of cinnamon and nutmeg waft through the house from a tasty treat baking in the warm oven. This blend of spices can vary, but is usually a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove and allspice.

All these herbs are considered to be warming in herbal medicine. Warming doesn’t necessarily refer to an actual hot temperature, although some may raise your body temperature and even cause you to sweat, but instead warming herbs more often refer to herbs that are able to increase movement, activity and circulation in the body. As it gets colder this time of year this blend of herbs can improve circulation in the body, reduce inflammation and help conditions such as arthritis and joint pain that often get worse in the wintertime. All these herbs also help the digestion. Helpful if you’re feasting more this holiday season, many studies have shown cinnamon’s ability to help reduce cholesterol and improve sugar metabolism. Ginger helps with this as well, and is also well known to reduce nausea, stomach upset, gas and bloating. Cloves, nutmeg and allspice have traditionally been used for digestive upset too. One of the most helpful attributes of these herbs however is to fight off infection. As cold and flu season comes into full swing, the aromatic chemicals that give these herbs their distinctive smells are all highly anti-bacterial. So if that wasn’t enough for you, placing clove oil on a sore tooth can reduce dental pain, and nutmeg has been shown to help reduce the degeneration of neural pathways that may lead to dementia or Alzheimer’s. Below is a recipe for some pumpkin spice you can make at home. Feel free to play with the proportions depending on what you like and add it to your coffee, oatmeal, or steamed milk with a little sweetener to make a tasty chai-like tea. Enjoy this traditional herbal blend with some great health benefits this season!

Pumpkin Spice Blend

2 Tbsp cinnamon

2 tsp ginger

2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cloves

1 tsp allspice

 

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