In traditional Chinese medicine, fall and winter are the inner, or "yin" time of the year, thought to be ideal for recharging and nurturing yourself and retreating to quieter, internal pursuits. For many people, fall is a time for new beginnings and new endeavors.
It's also a colder time of the year. In nature, leaves and flowers are dying and energy sinks, becoming concentrated in the seeds and roots of plants. During fall, the lungs are thought to be particularly vulnerable during this time to colds and flu.
Change of season soup is an immune system tonic used in traditional Chinese medicine. It's a herbal blend ideal to enhance the immune system during the changing of the seasons. This herbal formula is also thought to improve resistance to colds and flu and help with stress.
One cup or bowl twice a day for 12 days is often recommended for a healthy person. People who are in the midst of a cold or flu should not drink the soup until after they have recovered.
The soup has a slightly bitter taste. To improve the taste, use it as a base for a hearty chicken soup made with a whole chicken and shiitake mushrooms, onions, carrots, potatoes, pumpkin, squash, beets, and other local harvest vegetables.
To make change of season soup, you will need equal parts (2-3 oz each) of the following herbs. Chinese herbal shops sometimes sell the herbs pre-packaged for convenience.1. Codonopsis root
This herb is thought to help tonify and strengthen "qi" energy and helps to build blood and nourish body fluids.
2. Astragalus root
Astragalus is a root thought to helps strengthen protective defenses, strengthen qi energy, nourish the spleen, and tonify the blood and lungs.
3. Dioscorea (Chinese yam) root
Dioscorea is a herb believed to tonify and balances the lungs and the kidneys.
4. Chinese Lycii berries
Lycii berries is believed to strengthen the liver and the kidneys.
1. Fill a large stock pot with water. Add the above herbs to the pot and place the lid on. Bring to a boil and simmer for 4 to 6 hours. If the water level boils down, add water to refill if necessary.
2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the herbs from the pot and allow the soup to cool. This recipe makes about 4 liters of soup. You can drink it as a broth, use it as a base for soup recipes, or place it in a mug or thermos and sip it throughout the day.
Another traditional home remedy is ginger tea. You can find the recipe here.