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Getting to the Root: Staying Well with Root Teas and Vegetables during the Cold Months

During fall and winter, of course, there isn’t as much access to sunlight if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. Root teas and vegetables make a difference in how you nourish and sustain yourself and your body-mind system through these seasons with this shift in light and temperature.

Your digestion relies on heat to assimilate energy and nourishment from your food. The sun during the summer months assists with this process. In turn, it is much easier to digest foods and assimilate the energy from them where the plants are storing their energy. This means that during the growing season, they are putting their energy into their leaves and flowers so it is easier to metabolize and benefit from the energy in the leaves and flowers of the plant as it is growing above ground.

In fall and winter, plants put their energy into their roots to retain nourishment during the colder time of the year. It is for this reason that eating foods that are created from roots and below the ground that your energy will also be most nourished during this time of year. Like the seasons, in fall and winter, you need to have metabolic warmers while the body is in the process of conserving cellular and metabolic activity.

An Ounce of Prevention

This means that digestion takes a longer time. It takes fruits a longer time to digest. Foods that are primarily derived from roots take a longer time to digest. These foods include root vegetables like sweet potatoes, parsnips, beets, onions, garlic, and carrots. This is why in the winter months it is important to cook your food, instead of eating cold salads, to digest your food more easily. It’s about conserving heat and energy during this time to retain and absorb more energy.

Eating specific foods and drinking certain hot liquids that feed and fuel your metabolism rather than slow it down, ultimately support digestive balance and efficiency.  We know that scientifically speaking, not all calories are created equal. When you drink warm teas and water throughout the day, you can also continually stoke your metabolism.~The Hot Belly Diet by Dr. Suhas G. Kshirsagar

Onions, Leeks, and Garlic are wonderful when it comes to prevention. They lower cholesterol and blood pressure. They contain Quercitin, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant that helps with conditions like arthritis. They also go a long way in stopping a cold in its tracks when incorporated into your cooking. Eat them both raw and cooked.

Fennel Seed is good for cooking and also for tea. Fennel seeds brewed in a tea steeped for about 10-15 minutes aid with digestive cleansing, as well as respiratory health.

Warming Spices

Warming Chai Spices

Use warming spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and anise. They are very digestible. Drink chai tea to balance, warm, and nourish your entire system. This tea blend stimulates circulation. Many of the spices in chai also contain antioxidants and fight free radicals.

Root Teas

You can still benefit from the harvest of herbs, leaves, seeds, and roots from the summer with herbal teas that support your wellness and well-being. Use some of the roots of a medicinal plant to benefit you in keeping warm and healthy.

In order to make root tea, you can purchase some from a health food store at this time of year. Only a few pieces of the root are needed to make a cup of tea, however, you can make a decoction too. Heat your water, and then be sure not to add boiling water directly to your roots as this will destroy the medicinal properties.

Steps for Making a Tea Decoction:

root teas

Harvested Roots for Tea

Astragalus Root is an anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular, immune, blood sugar, anti-cancer, tumor, and supports your respiratory health. It is good in soups and also as a tea. Add a few sticks before cooking. Remove sticks before eating or drinking.

Elecampane Root supports your lungs when you have a wet cough. You can simply place a few pieces of the root that have been cut into pieces and place them in hot water to steep for about 5-7 minutes before drinking. Elecampane root supports asthma and bronchitis and is helpful for its expectorant qualities.

Ginger Root when sliced, peeled, and heated to a boil for 10 minutes, then cooled and steeped after 15 minutes will support bronchial health.  Use the ginger root in your cooking.

Marshmallow Root supports your lungs when you have a dry cough. It is helpful in cases where you have a sore throat, experiencing diarrhea, or indigestion. Make this tea the same way as above.


In the cooler months especially it is important to support your digestion to have access to the energy provided by the foods you eat.

Clearing out “digestive sludge”-residue from poorly digested food that provokes hormonal imbalances and ultimately triggers inflammation, the root of virtually all disease, is an important aspect of staying healthy.~ The Hot Belly Diet

Ashwagandha Root is a tonic and supports balancing your hormones, especially testosterone. It supports your eyes, stomach, and lungs, and also nourishes your nervous system. You can cook with this root and place it in soups with parsnips, beets, garlic, onions, and/or carrots. It can also be used in a decocted tea.

Burdock Root is a nutritive liver tonic that helps to build and cleanse the blood. It promotes cleansing of the kidneys, as well as supporting skin health, arthritis, and cancer prevention. Burdock root is food in Asian cultures. It is placed in soups and also pickled. It is great for supporting your digestive health.

Dandelion Root works well to support your digestion and liver detoxification. It tones the pancreas and blood with a gentle laxative effect.

Detoxification during the Winter Months

 The best time of year for dieting and detoxification is during the spring and summer months when you gain warming energy from the sun to increase your metabolism.  However, during the dark months, you can use green tea when eating a meal with fatty foods to tonify your liver and support detoxification. You can also make herbal tea from plants like Tulsi (Holy Basil) or Tulsi Rose tea to keep you connected to the fire in your heart. Tulsi also benefits the function of your immune system while adapting to the changes that come your way during the cooler months.

Resources from Article

Recipe for Chai Tea:

 Tulsi Rose Tea

The Hot Belly Diet book:

Herbal Teas (101 Nourishing Blends for Daily Health and Vitality book:

Kimberly Rex, MS
Kimberly Rex, MS

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