It’s that lovely time of year, the passage between the hot days of summer and cold winter nights; the fall season. We start to feel a chill in the air as the leaves turn color and begin to drop from their branches. The days get shorter and we start to harvest and collect the brightly colored foods that have been growing such as pumpkins and squashes.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) it is important for us to live in harmony with each season throughout the year in order to maintain our health. Each season is associated with an element, organ, color, taste, sense, and emotion. These are the associations for fall:
- Element – Metal
- Organ – Lungs
- Color – White
- Taste – Pungent
- Sense – Smell
- Emotion – Grief
If we think about the function of the lungs, which is the organ associated with this season, we can think about taking in the new and letting out the old. The lungs take in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide. This season our attention should be focused on organizing and letting go. We should finish up any projects left over from summer and let go of things that don't benefit our needs. This can be a material or emotional "letting go." Time to clean out the pantry or donate any unwanted clothes to charity or possibly time to confront lingering emotions that are weighing on us and make room for new experiences and growth. If you are experiencing a time of grief, it is especially important to take care of the energy of the lungs right now. Below are some tips to help you maintain health through this season.
One of the best things you can do for yourself right now is to practice deep breathing. Not only does it benefit the lungs, but it can be particularly grounding, which is especially helpful as we enter the holiday season. A simple exercise is to take a long, slow, deep breath in through your nose. Think about breathing the air all the way down into your tummy. Fill up your lungs completely and hold for a count of 5. Then, slowly exhale through your mouth completely emptying your lungs. Practice this breath 3 times and do it 3 times a day. If you can get outside to do it, you might enjoy the crisp fresh air, plus it's a good time to get out for a walk in nature.
wear a scarf
Fall is the season associated with wind and according to Chinese medicine, wind is the cause of 100 diseases (yikes!) Wind and cold are said to enter most easily through the neck so simply wearing a scarf to keep this area warm and covered could prevent you from catching a cold. Plus, you'll look cute!
In TCM the Lungs also control the skin. Your skin breathes too. Sweating can help detoxify the body and cleanse the skin; but too much sweating drains the Lung energy. Make sure you stay properly hydrated when exercising. On the other hand, a good sweat can be especially therapeutic if you are coming down with a cold. Eat some spicy food that contains onion or garlic, spend some time in a hot bath, and drink a tea of ginger and green onion. Bundle up in some warm blankets to sweat while you sleep after your bath or tea will help.
foods for fall
As the weeks begin to cool, our diet should change from cooling foods to warming ones. Veggies should be cooked instead of raw and you can use heartier ingredients to help boost the immune system. Soups and stews have longer cooking time and benefit the digestive system. Take a look at this list of foods that help promote lung health. Notice a lot of these have a pungent flavor; the associated flavor of fall!
- Mustard Greens
- Sweet Potato
I hope that these tips help you have a happy and healthy fall season. If you are suffering from something lung related including asthma, dry cough, frequent colds, fall allergies, sinus infections, or need help moving through a grief period, acupuncture and herbal medicine can help. Make an appointment today! 617-308-6620