The Autumn Season
By Victoria Konidaris, L.Ac.
Autumn / Fall is the season of transition from the active yang energy of summer into the introspective yin energy of winter. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) autumn is associated with the lung organ and its main function is respiration, forming energy from oxygen and dispersing Qi and fluids through the body. The lung houses the mind and body connection and supports our immune system to defend against colds and pathogens.
In TCM the yin lung organ is paired with the yang large intestine organ and they work together to maintain balance in the body. The lung breathes in life giving oxygen taking in the new and releases carbon dioxide waste. Likewise the large intestine lets go of waste eliminating what the body no longer needs while reabsorbing that which is vital and useful for our body to function.
The lungs and breath determine our body's natural rhythm and autumn is the natural season for introspection and renewing a healthy rhythm in our life.
TCM Associations of the Lung
Element = Metal
Sense Organ = Nose
Color = White
Tissue = Skin
Taste = Spicy
Climate = Dryness
Emotion = Sadness / Grief
Yang Organ = Large Intestine
Symptoms of Lung Imbalance
Shortness of Breath
Connecting to the Fall Energy and Staying Healthy
Enjoy More Warm Cooked Foods: The warm yang nature of summer assists the body to digest salads and raw food however as the weather cools down eating cold foods can place a strain on the digestive system. Soups, steamed vegetables and stews are recommended due to their longer cooking times and warming properties, providing nourishment to the body and supporting digestion. Snow-Ear Mushroom, Apple & Pork Soup is perfect for fall as it benefits the lungs, improves vital fluids, clears phlegm, moisturizes the skin, improves the complexion and promotes digestion.
Eat Foods that Nourish the Lungs: With dryness and wind dominating the fall season include foods that generate fluids and moisten the lungs such as sweet potato, pears, apples, persimmons, pumpkins, walnuts, almonds, olives, pickles, miso and soy beans.
Enjoy a Warming Tea: Prepare a warming tea to promote digestion and support the immune system. Add 3 Chinese red dates, 1 teaspoon goji berries and 2 slices fresh ginger. Simmer gently for a few minutes or prepare in a thermos and leave for about 30 minutes for the flavors to come out.
Enjoy a Walk in Nature: Take in the beautiful fall colors and breath in the crisp, cool fall air. Taking a walk and reconnecting with nature is very healing and the fall season is one of the most beautiful times of the year to do so.
Practice a Daily Deep Breathing Exercise: Breath in through your nose into your lower abdomen until it expands to full capacity. While holding your breath count to five then exhale slowly through your mouth from the bottom of your lungs until they are completely empty. Take a few minutes out of your daily schedule and do this five times, twice daily.
Let go of Negativity in Your Life: Harness the natural energy of fall to look at things you may be hanging onto and release and let go of any emotional negativity. Releasing old emotions, setting boundaries and deciding to make necessary changes to keep positivity in our life will ultimately help in the long term with our wellbeing to keep healthy and happy.
Declutter, Organize and Donate: Holding onto things whether it is old emotions or physical items we no longer use or need can add additional stress to our lives. There are many inspiring blogs and books that explain the process of simplifying and letting go of stuff. The process can be incredibly liberating and is in harmony with the fall season and the lungs function of letting go.
Invest in a Humidifier: As the weather starts to get colder the air also gets dryer and some types of central heating can dry out the air even more resulting in dry skin and dry throat. A humidifier adds moisture to the air and benefits include preventing influenza, making a cough more productive, reducing snoring and keeping the skin, mucous membranes and hair moist.
Keep Warm and Wear a Scarf: In TCM the lungs as an organ are considered delicate and are the only Yin organ with a direct connection to the outside of the body. It is therefore important to bundle up in windy and cold weather and keep covered as cold wind is considered the root cause of colds and flus.
Schedule treatments to boost your immune system. Getting back into your regular treatment routine will greatly assist in warding off colds, flu, depression, fatigue, arthritis or other conditions that tend to worsen during the cold winter months.