Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approaches health from a different angle than the culturally familiar Western Medicine. Each season represents a change in what our body needs to express the ideal flow of Qi (pronounced “chee”), or the life force of the body. As we shift from longer days and the heat of the Summer into the falling leaves and gusting winds of Autumn, so too do the needs of our bodies shift. While we often associate Autumn with pumpkin spice, harvest, and a festival of color, TCM takes a deeper look at how the fall season affects our bodies and overall functional needs.
Autumn is the season of metal, the energetic element which governs organization, storage, setting limits and protecting boundaries. Metal also pertains to the Lung and Large Intestine organs. The Lungs help protect us against invasion by external pathogens, while the Large Intestine helps us to let go of toxins and anything that is not serving us well.
The Fall is considered a dry season, which may have a big effect on the Lung and Large Intestine. Dryness can show up as a dry cough or weakness in the lungs. In the Large Intestine, dryness may show up as constipation. It is important to drink plenty of water! Consider putting a sprinkle of Celtic Sea Salt in your water to help you absorb it better. Those minerals can make a big difference!
In TCM, the skin is known as the “Third Lung”, so we need to focus on keeping it hydrated during this dry time of year to keep it beautiful and healthy. I suggest using your favorite lotion or oil after your bath or shower. Try to incorporate an organic form of skin care when possible.
The nose is the sensory organ of the Lung and if you are experiencing a stuffy or runny nose, congested sinuses, sneezing or a loss of smell it could mean that your Lung qi is weak.
During this change of seasons and especially when wind and sudden cold appear, it is very important to dress for the elements. In Chinese medicine, the back of the neck and upper back are considered the first line of defense against external challenges such as wind and cold, so it is very important to wear a protective scarf outside and dry your hair after washing it before going outside or going to bed.
Emotionally and physically, we need to focus on letting go during this season. Let go of clutter in all areas of your life like objects, tasks, relationships and environments. If you have been worrying, journaling and meditation will help you to express your emotions and realize them. The Lung is affected by suppressed grief so find a safe space to cry to release everything.
When it comes to nourishing our body in the Autumn, it is important to incorporate foods like ginger, honey, garlic, scallions, pears and red dates into your day. A lovely way to fix pears is to warm them in a toaster oven and drizzle honey on them.
Enjoy this wonderful season and don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with an Acupuncturist to help support your Lung and Large Intestine as we settle into the lovely season of Autumn!
Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner