The Fall Season and Asian Medicineby Raina Tsuda on 11/07/11
The Fall Season and Chinese Medicine
“The three months of autumn which run from fall equinox (September 23) to winter solstice (December 22) is a time which the shapes of everything are formed gloriously and peacefully. The cold energy is moving up swiftly, and yang energy is descending. Autumn energy is peaceful and clear, which is why it is desirable to sleep early and wake up early in order to enjoy the clear energy of the early morning. The lung corresponds to autumn, whose emotion is sadness and grief. The lungs should remain clean and clear to stay in harmony with the autumn energy. When we suffer sadness and grief during autumn it causes harm to our peaceful energy which may lead to disease. A good lifestyle to follow for autumn is rejuvenation and harvesting, harvesting and storage of the warm, yang qi of summer. If autumn fails to harvest then there will be nothing in storage for winter and when winter arrives there will not be enough warm, yang qi and one will suffer diarrhea with undigested foods”. (Source: Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen – Chapter 2 by Henry Lu).
As indicated by ancient texts, one of the beautiful features of Asian Medicine is learning how to live harmoniously with our environment and seasons. We can look to nature to learn what fall is about and how to adapt our lifestyle for fall. As the energy in trees begins to retreat inwards, we see the changing of colors and drying out of the leaves. Eventually those leaves fall down, back to the earth, to provide warmth and protection in order for the roots in the ground to survive through the cold of winter. The bare trees go dormant for the winter, conserving its energy for a flourishing spring season.
Fall is the time of transition and change. It is between summer (warm/yang energy) and winter (cold/yin energy) when your Wei qi (immune system) becomes weaker and unstable. It is corresponds with the Metal element which is associated with organization, communication and “letting go”. This is the time when we start retreating inwards, physically and emotionally. For many, this inward retreating (reflecting) triggers sadness, the emotion of the lungs in Asian Medicine. If the lungs are weak, one will experience inappropriate amounts of sadness or no emotion at all. This is a good time to organize thoughts and emotions and let go of any negative emotions you may be hanging on to. Otherwise the lungs will further be weakened by sadness and grief and disease will manifest.
When the lungs are weak one will be more susceptible to respiratory illnesses such as: colds, flus, coughs, allergies and asthma. The paired organ to the lung is the large intestine. If the lungs are weak, it may also affect the large intestine leading to constipation and other bowel problems.
Dryness is also associated with the fall season in Asian medicine. Symptoms of dryness include: cough, dry skin, dry lips and scalp, dry nose, sore throat or dry stools. These can be alleviated by eating yin nourishing and moistening foods.
Here are some warm and nourishing foods and herbs to add to your fall diet:
Tips for Fall:
· Go to sleep early and wake up early
· Spend more time inside
· Avoid depression, let go of negative thoughts
· Practice meditation and breathing exercises
Eat less cold, raw foods and more warming, cooked foods