In sync with the spring equinox this past weekend, we launched our café menu for the year’s most renewing season. As the sun crosses the Equator into the Northern Hemisphere, a time of great change is ahead of us. And while we slowly but surely march toward the warmer days of summer, it is important to select the right plant allies for this transformational time.
This spring, we chose to focus on the many health benefits stored in berries—fresh and dry alike. In this Journal entry, herbalist Brianna Cherniak shares an in-depth look at the berries most integral to our health this season.
Brianna started her herbalism journey in 2014, when she participated in a college course on the subject. Ever since, she has honed her craft and knowledge of herb actions and their effects on different body systems. Brianna’s platform is a welcoming and approachable space of healing. She is currently deepening her ancestral knowledge, especially the rich heritage of Trinidadian plant medicine. Known for her herbal honeys on social media, Brianna is also available for individual herbal consultations. Visit her Instagram profile @opulentbria to get in touch.
One of the plant allies we chose for spring is the schisandra berry, featured as a key ingredient in our new seasonal drink, the Sakura Blossom. “Native to China,” says Brianna, “schisandra berries have been used for thousands of years. Known for its 5 distinct flavors: sweet, salty, sour, spicy, and bitter, schisandra berries take your tastebuds for a ride and then some! In traditional Chinese medicine, different flavors affect different body systems and have an emotional effect also.”
The 5 Flavors of Schisandra:
- Sweet: The spleen. Sweet flavors tonify (strengthen) the body.
- Salty: The kidneys. Salty flavors soften hardness and dissolve masses.
- Sour: The liver/anger. Sour flavors calm the body.
- Spicy: The lungs. Spicy flavors warm the body.
- Bitter: The digestive system. Bitter flavors clear heat from the body.
For our new Purple Sky Overnight Oats we chose, among others, maqui berry powder as a botanical helper. “New to the scene, maqui berries are quickly taking the throne of the new superberry!” says Cherniak. “Native to the Patagonia region of Chile, maqui berries were historically consumed by indigenoius peoples who used this berry to fight sickness and strengthen/warm their bodies during cold, harsh winters. With time and science, we’ve learned that maqui berries are an antioxidant POWERHOUSE. As such, they have anti-aging and skin-clearing properties. They are also found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, alleviate inflammation, and might even inhibit the growth of cancer cells.”
The Purple Sky Overnight Oats feature a second berry star: blueberry. Brianna mentions that many love the tasty fruit but “underestimate truly how nutritious and medicinally charged blueberries are! Similar to maqui berries, blueberries are antioxidant-abundant and protect the cells from damage due to free radicals. Regular consumption of blueberries helps with digestion and regulates bowel flow, improves eyesight, prevents cognitive decline and slows down the aging of the brain (Alzheimer’s), reduces the risk of heart disease, and lowers systolic and diastolic blood pressure! Blueberries' anti-emetic properties help treat nausea, calm stomach upsets and relieve diarrhea. Additionally, blueberries are beneficial in treating inflammatory skin conditions such eczema, psoriasis, and acne. What can’t they do?!”
The fourth herbal ally we are highlighting this spring is the elderberry, which stars in our new Elderberry Majik drink. “First discovered in Europe thousands of years ago, elderberries have rapidly grown in popularity, and not in vain! The elderberry’s shining success is in its ability to inhibit the influenza virus. They also support overall immune health, soothe inflammation (skin, throat, all over!), and rid the body of excess mucus. Elderberries are best to be taken as preventative medicine and are safe enough to consume daily. Recent scientific studies have also shown their effectiveness in reducing the length of sickness.”
With our botanical allies, we are ready to greet the coming of spring, a season that can quickly fluctuate between cold spells and t-shirt weather. Our immune system definitely needs some extra support in this time, and the other systems in our bodies are thankful for the assistance from our plant helpers.
Visit our three NYC cafés to enjoy our botanical creations, or visit us on @matchaful for some inspiration on how to integrate herbs into your own daily routines.
Brianna Cherniak & Matchaful