Autumn is here.
The colors are shifting to brilliant golds, oranges, reds, and temperatures are dropping overnight too. Cooler air is here and with it comes a change in organ systems in Chinese medicine.
The Lungs are represented by the metal element and are nourished or most active from the hours of 3 to 5 am then the large intestines from 5 to 7 am. During the early morning hours, our lungs are restoring themselves while we are in deep, restorative sleep and dreaming. Then upon waking the large intestines, it’s time to wake up, release bowls and possibly meditate at this time.
There are a total of five elements in Chinese medicine and metal is the fall element.
The color is white, the emotion associated is grief and the exterior expression is the nose. The lung includes the nose to the lungs themselves. We say that the lungs oversee gathering the qi of heaven and dispersing & descending that energy to the whole body.
When this function is disrupted, we see coughing or shortness of breath. The skin our largest organ, is the outer representation of the lung and that is why we need to keep warm as it gets cooler. It is easy for our environment to disrupt or lung system causing illness.
As the season often has more wind and dryness it is very important to keep the back of the neck and shoulders covered to avoid catching a chill which can lead to a cold if you are run down. Symptoms of this season are sinus congestion, sniffles, asthma, pressure in the chest, coughing, tightness in the neck, colds, sore throats, nose bleeds, stiffness in arms, neck & shoulders and diarrhea or digestive bloating.
The best way to cook during this season is with less water and for longer times at lower temperatures. Examples of this are baking and sautéing which will stimulate the nose and concentrated foods and root veggies will thicken the blood for colder months. Adding some sour flavors to your diet will concentrate metal focus. Examples of this are sourdough bread, lemons, pickles, sauerkraut, yogurt, lemons, plums, and grapes.
If dryness is a concern this season or after a cold you experience a dry cough try adding some of the following to your diet: tofu, spinach, millet, barley, pears, apples, seaweeds, almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, eggs, clam, crab, oysters, other shellfish, and pork.
Other important foods are golden/orange veggies and deep green foods that contain rich amounts of beta carotene (pro-vitamin A) which support the surface of the skin and the mucous membranes. Not only do they help support the immune system (lungs) during this season but they also have protective effects in lung and colon cancers along with dietary fiber.
A great way to make sure that you include these awesome foods is to shop for fresh produce of the season. Carrots, winter squash, pumpkin, parsley, broccoli, kale, turnips and other greens including micro and algae.
It is also important to support yourself if you are experiencing loss or grief this season. Stress from loss or melancholy due to the decrease in sunshine (seasonal affected disorder) will adversely affect your immunity and ability to fight off viruses.
It is vital to find support, seek counseling and have a plan for the season if you are suffering from emotional loss, depression or feel alone. Our mental health is so important to our ability to be our best selves.
Acupuncture can be an important part of care for mental health as well as boosting immunity, fighting off colds/flus, helping with allergies and supporting those who have asthma worsened by cold (treated a season prior to the symptoms flaring up) and neck, shoulder and arm tension.
Making sure that you take time out this season to get proper rest, exercise and have enough water is important too. Creating time for yourself to unwind and spend time connecting with loved ones, friends and being part of our communities will also help support the transition into the fall season.
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