The Pumpkin Spice of Life

"What is Autumn made of, made of? What is Autumn made of?
Pumpkin Spice and everything nice and that is what Autumn is made of."

Disclaimer: I know that not everyone likes pumpkin spice. It’s a love it or hate it kind of thing. But keep in mind that there are so many other things in this world that are polarizing and actually matter for the future of humanity. Pumpkin Spice is not one of those things. Pumpkin spice is not a hill to die on. It is ok to love it and it is ok to hate it. To those who do love it… great! Pass the spice around to all your buddies who love it also. If someone says “I don’t like it” you don’t have to try to convert them. Accept their answer and move on. To those who hate it… make like Elsa and Let It Go. It’s ok to not like it. But don’t be a Debbie Downer and rain on the Pumpkin Spice parade for those who do.    

Autumn is the season of the sundown as daylight wanes and nights wax longer. Plants begin to redirect energy back to their roots allowing the leaves to change color and fall to the earth. Some animals migrate south to warmer climates, while others fatten up and prepare their caves, nests, and thickets for hunkering down during the long cold winter. We are no different.

Like everything else in nature, we begin focus on our roots; our souls, and the quality of our wellbeing. Hygge is the name of Autumn’s game. Blankets, candles, and cozy sweaters begin to appear in the cooling evenings and cold mornings. And warm drinks like coffee, hot chocolate, and apple cider are en vogue again.

Warm drinks are delicious on their own and often don’t need to be zhuzhed up. But we humans love (and crave) variety. So, we add herbs and spices to take our already awesome warm drinks and take them to a whole new level. And what a level that is!

These spices don’t just taste amazing and transform our favorite beverages into culinary royalty, they have some really awesome qualities that they bring and synergize with.

 

Enter Pumpkin Spice

Pumpkin Spice consists of a synergistic blend of Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Clove, Allspice

Autumn’s most popular spice blend, Pumpkin Spice, really became trendy in 2003 when a coffee company had the most brilliant idea to add it to their classic latte. It was an instant hit for millions of people (and an instant snide jab for others). Even though Pumpkin Spice’s heyday has been less than 20 years, this particular blend of spices can be traced back at least 350 years, and the use of the individual spices has been documented to well over 3,500 years ago.

Pumpkin spice can be found in pie, coffee, assorted breads and pastries, and pretty much whatever the imagination and palate will allow. A simple google search will pull up dozens of suggestions.

But did you realize that pumpkin spice is home herbalism too? All five ingredients help reduce oxidative stress to the body, they are relaxing, and trigger nostalgic memory recall back to a time of simplicity, warmth, togetherness, and thanksgiving. All things good for the body and good for the soul.

Cinnamon: Cinnamon is the bulk of the recipe. It is a favorite companion of sweet and sugary foods and has been for millennia. It has been found in recent clinical studies that it reduces and balances blood sugar levels as well as cholesterol levels. It is warming and sweet tasting. It is relaxing to the nervous system as well as the muscular system. Cinnamon is highly aromatic with a tremendous amount of volatile compounds that relax the brain and encourage snuggling up in a blanket on a comfy couch reading a good book or watching your favorite films. While you snuggle up, cinnamon is also soothing the digestive tract as well as aiding in post-meal digestion with its carminative effects.

Ginger: Ginger comes next. Ginger has a lot of similar components and effects as cinnamon. It improves the digestive fire (digestive juices) which helps with post-meal digestion. It is also antispasmodic and works to move food down from the stomach into the small intestines. Ginger is also highly aromatic and antioxidant. The pungent and uplifting aroma of ginger compliments the earthy sweetness of cinnamon.

Nutmeg: Nutmeg, like Cinnamon and Ginger is a warming digestive stimulant that is anti-inflammatory and antioxidative. What makes nutmeg special is that it is particularly relaxing to the point of mild sedation in certain amounts. It soothes the sympathetic nervous system as well as brain activity to lull and pacify the body and mind. Nutmeg is a harmonizer with its sweet and nutty flavor. It very effectively rounds out a recipe and pairs well with anything creamy. A very little goes a very long way though and too much (as little as 5 grams or 2 teaspoons) will trigger some interesting side effects that include some pretty horrible hallucinations. Don’t worry, nutmeg isn’t particularly lethal as there are only 2 recorded deaths attributed to nutmeg since the 1600’s. LUCKILY the amount used in pumpkin spice is quite minimal and will not trigger any negative side effects and a massive amount of lattes would have to be drunk in order to achieve those levels.

Clove: Like the above, Clove is also a warming digestive stimulant (whaat??!) as well as being high in volatile compounds and antioxidants. It’s a pretty potent herb and a little goes a very long way taste-wise.  Clove is also a pretty decent topical analgesic and has been used historically by dentists to numb the mouth prior to a procedure. This numbing effect might be useful when you accidentally sip your hot coffee and burn your mouth. Clove has also been recently found to have a positive effect on blood glucose levels (similar to cinnamon) as well as blood pressure.

Allspice: Allspice is another harmonizing herb in the Pumpkin Spice blend. It has a lot of similar effects as ginger does while having a milder taste. Allspice is soothing to an upset digestive tract and has been used for indigestion, gas, and nausea. It is also a mild laxative and can help loosen any lower GI blockages that might be ailing you. Like Clove, allspice also contains compounds that are analgesic in nature and has a history of use in dental health.

These five herbs synergize to produce a powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, digestive aid while also triggering the brain to feel warm, safe, happy, and relaxed. Pumpkin Spice is truly the spice of a happy life.

Want to make the blend yourself?

1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ginger
¼ tsp Nutmeg
¼ tsp Clove
¼ tsp Allspice

Want to Smell the blend but not ingest it? Try it in a diffuser!

20 drops Cinnamon
20 drops Ginger
20 drops Nutmeg
15 drops Clove bud
2 drops Cardamom

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