There are no limits to what can become “Pumpkin Spiced” this year! Whether you are a fan of pumpkin spice everything or not, you can’t help but see all the “Pumpkin Spice” themed items available – toothpaste, gum, beer, sparkling water, hamburgers, chips, salsa, pasta sauce, marshmallows, Oreos, Twinkies, Peeps, cat litter (no kidding), and cat and dog treats. (My dog would love those, actually.)
I even heard a radio call in show in which people were talking about “pumpkin spice everything,” and one guy said the local oil change shop in his town had put on their marquee, “Pumpkin Spice Oil now available.” Someone else called in to say she had just seen pumpkin spice toilet paper at the store. She laughed as she said that there are some places pumpkin spice should not go. Agreed!
The pumpkin spice craze is a fairly recent trend in our culture. The first pumpkin-spiced candles and coffee appeared in the mid 90’s. In the early 2000’s, a few bold and daring coffee shops began the crazy, new idea of selling pumpkin-spiced lattes. In 2003, Starbucks began to offer pumpkin spice lattes, too, causing the trend to explode into a national phenomenon.
Although the herbs in pumpkin spice blends have been used medicinally for thousands of years, pumpkin spice herbs were not always available to most households until well into the 20th century. Even if they were available, the difficulty in obtaining them and their high cost necessitated that they be saved for holidays. And pumpkins, a crop readily available to many, were always ready to harvest by holiday season. Voila! Thanksgiving pumpkin pie!
While you’re not likely to get any benefits from the pumpkin spice toothpaste, body scrubs, Oreos, or cat litter, these herbs do offer many health benefits that are great for meeting the challenges of autumn weather.
Some of the most common herbs used in pumpkin spice are:
Cinnamon – A powerfully warming herb, cinnamon aids digestion and circulation. This herb is great when you’re feeling cold, especially when you need to stimulate the circulation to your hands and feet. It has also been shown to improve the body’s immune response against bacteria and viruses. And research has demonstrated it’s ability to support blood sugar balance. With so many sweet treats around this time of year, we can all use that!
Cloves – This herb, often thought of for its ability to relieve the pain of toothaches, is also a warming herb that boosts digestion and improves circulation.
Ginger – The anti-inflammatory properties of this warming herb make it a great support for cold arthritis conditions, stiff muscles, and sore backs. It can provide support for some cold weather cough and respiratory conditions. It’s also known to enhance immune function and help with colds and chills. Ginger is also well-known for its ability to improve circulation and digestion and relieve nausea and vomiting.
Many of us tend to have a slower, colder metabolism which causes us to feel cold and sluggish during the cooler weather of autumn. We need some warming herbs to stimulate our digestion, circulation, and elimination. When our metabolism begins to slow down, these warming, pungent herbs can help to warm things up and get our body functionally optimally again.
Here’s a homemade pumpkin spice recipe that I like, filled with some good doses of these warming herbs:
1 T Allspice
6 T Cinnamon
1 T Cloves
4 tsp Ginger
4 tsp Nutmeg
Mix these together and keep them in a sealed container and use them in place of spices in your favorite pumpkin spice recipes. Sprinkle on oatmeal, baked apples, baked pears, and even put a little in your tea!
Did you know you can also enjoy some of the benefits from these spices by using the essential oils made from these plants? This is especially enjoyable for those who associate good memories with the smells of these fall spices.
Here’s an aromatic pumpkin spice essential oil recipe for your diffuser:
Clove – 3 drops
Cinnamon – 3 drops
Nutmeg – 2 drops
Ginger – 1 drop
Orange – 1 or 2 drops
But in addition to the spices, even the pumpkins and their seeds offer some great health benefits for this time of year. Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc which is great for the immune system. They also have omega-3 fatty acids which are great for the immune system and inflammation. Pumpkins are high in vitamins A and C which are necessary for strong immunity, and they are full of fiber which helps our digestive health and elimination and keeps us feeling full, a great way to support healthy weight through the holidays.
So go ahead and try all those pumpkin spice recipes on Pinterest and have fun with them! Look for ones that use whole, natural ingredients, though, and avoid refined carbohydrates such as white flour and white sugar which deplete our health. As it turns out, there’s quite a potential boost for our health in the national pumpkin spice craze, so enjoy!
I’m going to make up a bottle of the pumpkin spice essential oil mix for use during reflexology sessions with my clients. And I might make some pumpkin spice dog treats, too!