Change of Season Soup

by Viktoriya Zabigaylo & Orest Szczurko

Seasonal changes may impact our health in a number of ways as our bodies adjust to the changes in weather and amount of daylight. Mood, sleep, appetite and energy can be affected, and we may be more susceptible to catching a cold. For this reason, fall and spring are important times of the year to support the immune system and heighten the body’s defense mechanisms. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends the Change of Season Soup to help the body adjust to the changes in the external environment.

The medicinal herbal ingredients include:

  • Astragalus membranaceus (Huang Qi)
    • Strengthens, supports and regulates the immune system and protective defenses (Wei Qi)1
    • Prevents and improves resistance to upper respiratory infections including the common cold
    • Nourishes the spleen, which is responsible for digestion, energy and mental capacity1
    • Tonifies (strengthens) the blood and lungs which are involved in immune function1
    • Contains beneficial flavonoids and polysaccharides that exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, radioprotective and hepatoprotective (liver protecting) effects, and even antidiabetic effects2
  • Codonopsis pilosula (Dang Shen)
    • Also known as “poor man’s ginseng” due to similar properties of Siberian ginseng
    • Tonifies the spleen and lung channels as well as Qi energy1
    • Builds blood and nourishes body fluids1
    • Contains phytosterols and triterpenes which contribute to immune strengthening
  • Dioscorea sinensis (Chinese yam)
    • Tonifies the kidneys and lungs1
    • Contains beneficial polysaccharides that produce antioxidant effects and increase cellular immunity, thus protecting against infections3,4
  • Lyciium barbarum (Chinese wolfberry/Gou Qi Zi)
    • Tonifies the kidneys and liver1
    • Contains polysaccharides that exert antioxidant and immune strengthening effects5
  • Dried ginger (Gan Jiang)
    • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties6
    • Antimicrobial activity6

All of the above herbal ingredients can be found in Chinatown, T&T or other Asian supermarkets. Pre-packaged Change of Season ingredients may be found in some health food stores.


  • Astragalus – 4 sticks
  • Codonopsis – 3 sticks
  • Chinese wild yam – 2 sticks
  • Chinese wolfberries – 3 tbsp
  • Dried ginger – 1 tbsp
  • Chicken pieces – 400 g
  • Garlic – 2 cloves
  • Carrot – sliced, ½ cup
  • Celery – chopped, ½ cup
  • Bok choy – chopped, 1 cup
  • Onion – chopped, ½ cup
  • Fresh cilantro – ¼ cup
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Add all of the ingredients except the vegetables into a large pot and fill with water (about 12 cups).
  2. Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 ½ hours.
  3. Remove the Astragalus, Codonopsis and Chinese wild yam.
  4. Add in the vegetables and cook for another 20 minutes.

Note: this is a suggested recipe, and can be modified as needed.

A Change of Season tea is another option, which includes just the 5 main medicinal ingredients (Astragalus, Codonopsis, Chinese wild yam, Chinese wolfberries and dried ginger), chopped into fine pieces and steeped for 10-20 mins in hot water. Lemon and honey may be added for taste.

The Change of Season soup or tea can be taken daily for 1-2 weeks during periods of dramatic temperature and environmental changes during seasonal transitions (or when seasonal change is most apparent).



  • Athletic Edge Sports Medicine – Change of Season Soup
  • Bratkov, V.M., Shkondrov, A. M., Zdraveva, P. K., Krasteva, I. N. (2016). Flavonoids from the Genus Astragalus: Phytochemistry and Biological Activity. Pharmacognosy Review. 10(19): 11–32
  • Kong, XF et al. (2009). Chinese yam polysaccharide enhances growth performance and cellular immune response in weanling rats. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. doi: 1002/jsfa.3688
  • Yang, W., Wang, Y., Li, X., Yu,P. (2015). Purification and structural characterization of Chinese yam polysaccharide and its activities. Carbohydrate Polymers. 117(6): 1021-2027
  • Gan, L., Zhang, S.H., Yang, X.L., Xu, H.B. (2004). Immunomodulation and antitumor activity by a polysaccharide–protein complex from Lycium barbarum. International Immunopharmacology. 4(4): 563-569
  • Singletary, K., (2010). Ginger: An overview of health benefits. Nutrition Today. 45(4): 171-183

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