How to prepare for the Autumn season with Traditional Chinese Medicine
Fall is in the air, which means you may be making some dietary and lifestyle changes to gear up for the cooler weather. As we transition from Summer to Autumn, there are also changes in nature. The leaves begin to change color, and with this season shift comes change in our bodies, health, and mood.
Let’s take a look at how to prepare for the Autumn season with Chinese medicine.
Looking at the Autumn Season From a Chinese Medicine Perspective
Around the Autumn season, many of us notice issues start to pop up that are associated with the health of our lungs. You may notice that the autumn season brings more colds, coughs, and fall allergies. In Chinese medicine, Autumn is associated with lungs, but also the large intestine channels that also take centre stage. These are the most vulnerable organs during the Autumn months.
As far as emotion is concerned, Autumn is often associated with sadness, letting go, and grief.
Autumn is the Time to Switch From External Expansive to More Internal Contractive
During the Autumn season, it’s time to make the switch from external expansive to a more internal contractive. Let’s take a look at what these mean.
- External Expansive: is associated with a carefree summer, embarking on new adventures, going on holidays, longer days, spending more time outside, staying up late, and getting less sleep.
- Internal Contractive: is associated with self-examining, staying home more often, sleeping more, spending more time indoors, and relaxing.
As you can see, we make some pretty big changes as we transition from Summer to Autumn, and in an ideal world, our bodies would be in tune with the season. As our bodies would tune into the season changes, ideally, our lifestyles would automatically coincide with the changes that occur during each season that we are in.
However, this isn’t reality, and many of us live a far too busy life to really make the adjustments to our day to day life according to what season we are in. Many of us don’t have the time to make changes to our activities, our diet, mindset, how we are sleeping, or exercising. The truth is that many of us aren’t allowing our bodies to be in sync with the seasons.
Even if you do live a very busy lifestyle, and don’t think that you can tweak your lifestyle to be more in sync with the season change as we enter Autumn, there are things you can do. We are going to break down what you can do to strengthen and protect your health as the Autumn season approaches.
Role of Lungs & Large Intestines During the Autumn Season
As mentioned before, during the Autumn season, the lungs take centre stage as they are the most vulnerable to things like coughs and colds. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, all organs have a pair, and lungs happen to pair with the large intestine, so the large intestines are also vulnerable during the Autumn season.
Let’s take a look at the function of these two organs and why they are important to focus on during the Autumn months.
Lungs: The lungs are Yin, and they take in oxygen and eliminate carbon monoxide. The emotions associated with the lungs include grief and sadness as well as difficulty letting go.
During the Autumn season, it’s important to focus on achieving a healthy Qi, and keep the flow of lung Qi free without any blockages or obstructions.
Doing so will allow for clear thinking, being open to new ideas and changes, and positivity, personal growth, and inner peace.
Large Intestine: The large intestine is Yang, and absorbs any water that is left in undigested food. The large intestine also eliminates waste from the body. There is also lymphoid tissue present in the large intestine that can help protect the body from bacteria as it produces antibodies.
During the Autumn season, we want to support a healthy Qi to also avoid any obstructions to the large intestine Qi. This will allow for relaxation, detox, letting go of things that no longer help us, going with the flow, and having a positive outlook on life.
Having an obstruction in the Qi flow to the large intestine could make it difficult for us to let go, and may make us more stubborn, and lead to stagnation, and a more negative outlook on life.
Why We Need to Be Aware of This
Failing to adjust to the season changes means that we don’t prepare our bodies for the shift which can lead to stagnation, blockages in Qi flow, and can affect the health and the performance of the lungs and the large intestine.
With preparation, the Autumn season is the perfect time to let go of any self-doubt, detox the body, and experience personal growth. When we are aware of how season changes affect the body as well as our emotions and mind, we can better prepare and help the large intestine clear up the cold foods we consumed all summer.
Let’s take a look at five Traditional Chinese Medicine tips to help you stay healthy this Autumn.
5 Traditional Chinese Medicine Tips to Stay Healthy This Autumn
1. Acupuncture: Getting some acupuncture as we transition from Summer to Autumn in a great way to circulate the Qi in the lung and large intestine channels. This can help strengthen the immune system to ward off the germs that pop up during the colder months. Acupuncture can also help decrease pain, help ease Autumn allergy symptoms, as well as cold and flu symptoms, and can help regulation digestion, and calm the mind.
2. Keeping Warm: As we move away from the hot summer months, you will want to keep warm as the weather starts to get cooler. This is especially important because the lungs are vulnerable to winds and changes in temperature.
Wear a scarf to help protect your body during the cold months. The upper back and neck together are known as the “wind gate’ in TCM, so you want to wear a scarf to protect the lungs and throat. These are two vulnerable areas of the body, and when they are exposed to the cold temperatures, we can get sick.
3. Food: It’s important to eat seasonally, and the Autumn season is pungent and should be balanced with sour foods as dryness is associated with Autumn. Balancing sour foods can help make sure that your body stays warm and moist. Try to learn towards white and light coloured foods to help prevent infection.
You can also eat warm, cooked foods that are highly nutritious. Things like soups and stews with warming spices like cardamom, cumin, coriander, and black pepper are great options. During the Autumn months, avoid cold foods like salads.
4. Take Deep Breaths: Deep breathing is important during all times of the year, but during the Autumn months where your lungs are most vulnerable, deep breathing can be especially helpful for lung Qi flow and preventing blockages.
It’s also a great way to calm the mind and the body, so be sure to breathe deeply, especially when you feel your body starting to tense up. And, be mindful of how you breathe throughout the day. Often times, when we are stressed out, we hold our breath. This can make our body even more tense, and can lead to stagnation, so be sure to pause and remind yourself to breathe deeply!
5. Add herbs to your routine: Plants and herbs have a rich history and have been used for centuries for their healing properties. As we move into the colder seasons it is important to ensure we look after and ensure our immune system is strong. Incorpoarting herbs into your daily routine is a great way to boost you immune system. Cordycep is excellent is boosting energy and your immune systmem, Ginkgo biloba improves circulation and strengthens blood vessels. Take a look at our Adaptogen Guide for help you guide further.