Winter Wonder Spices: A Chat on the Mat with Dr. Shweta Labde

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Winter Wonder Spices

Are we ready to embrace the charm of winter? As the world around us settles into a peaceful slumber, we are invited to redirect our energies and indulge in the serene stillness that defines this season. Winter is a beautiful time to slow down and find solace from the busyness of life. It offers us an opportunity to pause, unwind, and recharge. 

While it’s common to emphasize seasonal routines (Ritucharya) and diets to maintain balance and prevent imbalances caused by changing seasons, the importance of Indian spices and herbs in sustaining the digestive Agni of our bodies is often overlooked. 

The spices we often associate with the season not only create a comforting atmosphere in our kitchens but can also have a remarkable impact on our bodies. Studies suggest that these “warm” spices possess the ability to regulate blood sugar levels, improve blood flow, and support healthy digestion.

During the winter season, it’s important to maintain internal warmth in our bodies, which is often overlooked. While we tend to prioritize external measures for warmth, our internal health should not be neglected. 

Chat on The Mat With Dr. Shweta Labde

The Chat on the Mat with Dr. Shweta Labde is very informative, as it provides valuable insights into the benefits of winter spices and herbs for regulating body temperature and boosting the immune system. These spices can help keep us warm and ensure that our organs function optimally during the colder months.

hellomyyoga: How do Indian spices and herbs maintain the internal heat of the body? Do these also strengthen one’s immunity?

Dr. Shweta Labde: Most of the Indian herbs like Clove, Cinnamon, Bay leaf, and Pepper are pungent in taste and hot in potency. These spices improve digestion and kindle digestive fire, thus reducing ama (toxin accumulation in the body) and strengthening immunity. 

The common complaints observed during winter are cough and cold, spices reduce the Kapha in the body due to its pungent taste and hot potency.

hellomyyoga: Can you suggest winter spices-based recipes for drinks that can keep us warm?

Dr. Shweta Labde: Herbal tea – 1 cup of water + jaggery or sugar as per taste + a small piece of cinnamon, 1 elaichi, 1 clove,2 Tulsi leaves, 1/2 peppercorn – boil and strain – you can replace this herbal tea with regular tea. – This will not only keep you warm but leave you refreshed with its aroma and also improve digestion.

Add 1 long pepper (piper longum) + small piece of dry ginger to 1cup of milk + 1 cup of water – boil and reduce to half (only 1 cup of milk should be left) – strain and sip warm – this reduces cough, strengthens the respiratory system, and relieves cough.

Liberal use of ginger in warm drinks and cooking food is always useful.

hellomyyoga: Can you provide us with recommendations for winter spices or herbs that are suitable for each dosha type (Vata, Kapha, and Pitta)?

Dr. Shweta Labde: Most of the spices reduce or liquefy kapha, pacify Vata dosha, and increase Pitta dosha:

Vata – cinnamon, clove

Pitta – Elaichi, Cumin

Kapha – Peppercorn, long pepper, Dry ginger, ajwain, cinnamon, star anise

hellomyyoga: Can you share some spices that should be given during winter to growing children to keep cold and cough at bay?

Dr. Shweta Labde: Truly speaking it is important to avoid the causes of cold and cough, warm, freshly cooked food, soups tempered with ghee and a hint of spices to prevent the formation of kapha.

Ajwain should be dry-roasted, and packed in a cloth, and the fumes should be inhaled to relieve congestion.

Herbal tea – 1 cup of water + rock sugar as per taste + a small piece of cinnamon, 1 clove, 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds, a small piece of ginger (dry/fresh) 3-4 Tulsi leaves – boil and strain

hellomyyoga: Are there any do’s and don’ts to use spices and herbs in concoctions or dishes?

Dr. Shweta Labde: Spices like pepper, and clove should be wisely consumed by individuals with Pitta Prakriti or in the hot season as it can aggravate Pitta.

Elaichi, cinnamon, and nutmeg go well with sweets whereas spices like clove, pepper, star anise adds flavors and aids digestion to savory preparation.

hellomyyoga: With Christmas approaching, many people will be preparing mulled wine which is infused with clove, star anise, and cinnamon. What are your thoughts on this?

Dr. Shweta Labde: This depends on the place where Christmas is celebrated. We should understand that wine itself is hot in potency and when mulled with spices it further adds to the heat and aggravates Pitta dosha and Rakta.

In places where the climate is cold or snowy, Mulled wine is the perfect recipe for the celebration, but at places with moderate winter, mulled wine is not a very good choice, it should be served in very small quantities.

hellomyyoga: In this digital era, we’re bombarded by all sorts of Ayurvedic content and recipes on the internet, advocated by influencers. But most of us have no clue about our dosha types! Are trending hot beverages (like Apple Cider-Warm Water and Warm Water-Honey Lemon) safe for everyone, regardless of their doshas?

Dr. Shweta Labde: When one consumes any healthy beverages, it is important to consider individual dosha type, ongoing season (rutu), and other prevailing health conditions, if any.

What works for one, may not work for others. Ayurveda states that Honey should never be heated or consumed with warm/ hot foods/ drinks. It is essential to consult an Ayurveda physician before starting with any such so-called health supplements.

Read More from ‘Chat On The Mat

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Understanding the Essence of Tapa with Dr. N Ganesh Rao

Exploring Ayurveda and Modern Medicine in Female Healthcare 

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