There are five elements that make up the foundation of Chinese Medicine theory. These are: Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire. Each of these elements is associated with a specific organ, taste, smell, sound, color, climate, and season which helps us relate to the world around as well as to our place in it and interconnectedness with it
Autumn is the season of the metal element and the organs related to metal are the lung and large intestine. How are these two organs related? Chinese Medicine is ruled by the philosophy of yin and yang – opposites that complement each other, that transform into each other, that depend on each other. The lung is the Yin organ whereas the large intestine belongs into the category of yang organs. The lung aspires, takes in the air and with it oxygen which provides the energy for our cells. The large intestine on the other hand is the organ that expels toxins from the body.
During the autumn, these organs are more vulnerable than usual and need extra attention. Coughs and colds are more likely to occur and other more serious respiratory infections become more prevalent.
The emotion associated with the lung is sadness, grief, and sorrow. I don’t know about you, but I find myself always a little more melancholy and mellow during autumn.
Everything seems to slow down around me, the sun does not have the strength of summer anymore and the days become shorter. Sadness and grief can be related to a loss, but they can also be connected to a change in your life, in relationships or in your work situation. Maybe you have noticed how quickly you catch a cold the last time you experienced a profound loss. Studies have shown that grief, depression and sadness over a prolonged period of time, reduce the body’s immune function.
During autumn, the landscape changes as well (more or less, depending on where you live). Even here in Arizona, fall makes an entrance with milder daytime temperatures, soft breezes and the subtle color changes. Nature is “letting go” of the intensity of summer; trees shed their leaves, storing their energy in the roots until next spring.
We are to do the same. Now is a great time to go within, to reflect and prepare for the darker time of the year. Just like the large intestine lets go of that which is no longer needed, so should we release that which no longer serves our greater good. This could be something big like a relationship, job or place, but it could also be something small like cleaning out the garage or decluttering the office. While it is natural to want to hold on and to resist change, it is healthier to let go and make space for the new.
During this time of transition from one season to the next, you want to support the organs most affected through lifestyle and nutrition.
- Eat fewer salad and cold food and replace those with soups, hot cereals and stews. These provide more fluids during the dryer season and are much easier to
- Steam, boil or stir fry your food which makes it retain more moisture than frying or
- Eat more pears (they are in season!) because they nourish and moisten the lungs.
- Pungent foods, such as garlic, onion, ginger or horseradish, can help disperse mucus and keep lungs
- Foods and herbs that are moistening can help repair the mucus membranes of the lungs and large intestine and keep them healthy. Try adding flaxseed to your oatmeal or have a cup of marshmallow tea.
- Go for walks but stay
- Get acupuncture to balance the body and to strengthen lungs and immune function!
Every season has its own beauty and charm and lets us experience the world around us in different ways
In order to fully enjoy each season and move through it
healthy in body and mind, it is important to pay attention to how our needs change along with each transition!