It is now October, time to start putting away the summer clothes, and taking out the cozy sweaters and jackets. It is a time for multicolored trees of red, orange and gold, and brightly colored foods, like pumpkins and squashes. Fall is a time of harvest, of gathering in, stocking up, and going inward and being more introspective.
In Chinese medicine, each season of the year is related to a particular element of nature. There are 5 elements in all: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. The energy of Fall is the Metal element. Fall is a time of letting go. Just as the trees don’t hold on to their leaves, but let them fall away, this is the perfect time to let go of anything that we don’t need anymore, anything that is holding us back, such as negative emotions, or items in our homes that we no longer need. There may be a natural sense of sadness or grief, the two emotions associated with the Fall, a sense of loss as the daylight begins to fade, and the energies of nature become slower and cooler.
In Chinese medicine, each element and season corresponds to its associated internal organs. The Metal organs are the Large Intestines the and Lungs. The Large Intestine is all about letting go and getting rid of what is unnecessary or toxic to our bodies. Eating foods that are easier to digest will help the intestines to function more efficiently. This is also the best time of year to really take care of your Lungs. Go outside and breathe in the cool, crisp air. Do what inspires you, what uplifts you, as the lungs receive this pure energy from the air.
Because of the lungs’ vulnerability at this time of year, colds and flus are common occurrences, with a tendency to develop a dry cough with these illnesses. There are things that you can do to keep your lungs healthy, and your Metal element strong:
1. The lungs are especially vulnerable to dryness in autumn. Pears are in season at this time of year. This juicy fruit can help to nourish the lungs, get rid of dryness, and dissolve phlegm – perfect for those stubborn coughs. They also aid in bowel movements, which helps the other metal organ, the Large Intestine. Eat them uncooked for a sore throat, or steamed with a little bit of honey or rock sugar for moistening the lungs.
2. Eat soup, which is both nourishing and warming. It is also easy on the digestive system.
3. Get enough sleep, which is restorative and keeps the immune system strong.
4. Exercise to keep your lungs strong and your mood stable.
5. Decrease stress: stress depletes your immune system
6. Decrease sugar: sugar also depletes the immune system, and leaves you more vulnerable to colds and flu.
7. Wear a scarf when you go outside. The back of your neck, where your neck meets your shoulders, is a vulnerable spot where, in Chinese medicine, an illness such a cold or flu can easily enter the body.
When you learn to live in harmony with nature and the seasons, and you practice these simple things, you will be better able to experience the joys of this beautiful season.