Staying Healthy In Autumn
Seasons change, and your body and mental outlook change with them in predictable ways. Oriental medicine combines knowledge of seasonal characteristics with your unique health situation to balance your energy (chi) to help you adapt and thrive during the cool, crisp months of autumn.
In this episode of ‘Seasonal Health Tips,’ Kitty talks about how the Metal element of Autumn affects your health, and how to stay healthy during this season of cooler days and longer nights. (To get the most out of what Kitty has to say, open the 5 Element Theory chart in a new window while listening.)
(Length 07:39, Size 8.8 MB)
The Metal Element
Every season is associated with one of the Five Elements, and for autumn, the element is Metal—the energetic force that governs the health and functionality of your Lungs and Large Intestine.
According to Taoist 5 Element Theory, the Lungs are the primary influence affecting the immune system. So during autumn, it’s important to eat food that builds the overall health of the Lungs to strengthen your immune system now, and in preparation for winter.
Autumn Health Problems
Because the Lungs are most sensitive during autumn, this is a time to focus on preventing or responding to colds, coughs, sore throat, and the like. And for people already predisposed to lung problems, such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and emphysema, autumn is the time to take precautions to minimize your vulnerability as we advance towards winter.
Avoid Drafts and Breezes. Temperatures are dropping, evenings are getting cooler, and in some places breezes are picking up as seasonal winds begin to blow. During this time, you need to be mindful of breezes that make you feel chilly. To avoid getting sick, keep your neck, wrists, and ankles from being exposed to wind and drafts. This is a likely way for an illness to start.
Be Aware of Dryness. During autumn, slowly increasing wind and cold begins to create dryness in the air, which affects your skin and Lungs. The effects of the natural tendency toward dryness in autumn are magnified as you begin to turn on the heat—at home, at work, and in the car—to take the chill out of the air.
Your skin and Lungs don’t like dryness, so it’s important to drink enough fluids to make sure they don’t get dried out.
Eat Less Spicy Food. Because the Lungs are especially sensitive during the autumn months, it’s a good idea to minimize the amount of spicy food you eat, to avoid irritating them. As a result, your Lungs will be less vulnerable to pathogens.
Autumn Health Tips
It’s important to pay attention to how you feel. As soon as you feel a “cold” coming on, it’s time to take preventive action by enjoying one of these nourishing, natural home brews.
This simple broth will help you sweat lightly, and is an excellent remedy for preventing and getting rid of colds:
- Take one scallion, and chop it up.
- Boil in water for 5 to 10 minutes. (Keep the lid on the pot to prevent vapor from escaping.)
- Flavor with tamari.
- Sip it slowly, bundle up, then lie down, or go to sleep.
If scallion broth doesn’t suit your culinary fancy, try ginger tea:
- Put a couple of slices of fresh ginger in one and one-half cups of water.
- Boil for 5 to 10 minutes. (Time it based on how strong you like your ginger tea.)
- Keep the lid on the pot to prevent vapor from escaping.
- Add a little honey and lemon.
- Sip it slowly, bundle up, then lie down, or go to sleep.
Scallion broth is the more effective of the two remedies, but if for some reason it doesn’t appeal to you, ginger tea is a good alternative
Balance is Key
Strive to balance your diet so that it includes some vegetables, some fruit, some grain, and a handful of moderately spicy foods.
Get Help If You Need It
If you experience any lung-related, or other symptoms that don’t clear up quickly, call BIOM for an appointment to get a prescribed formula of medical herbs to help alleviate your symptoms and address the problem—before it becomes more advanced.
Autumn Equinox: The Yin Deepens
As the days continue to shorten and the nights get longer, remember to slow down to match the deepening of the seasonal energy.
Autumn Equinox is a time of discernible BALANCE in Nature; where in the northern hemisphere the number of hours of daylight and darkness are about equal: then we gently tip into predominant Darkness ... DEEPENING YIN ...
Unlike the Spring Equinox ... when we rise up into the Warmth and luxious growth of Summer (YANG) ... we’re now going the other way ... sinking ... into YIN ... Winter ... Cold ... Darkness. Not a darkness of gloom or despondency ... not at all ... we’re sinking into the fecundity of YIN.
To be able to sink ... fluidly and gracefully ... into the Yin ... one must understand one’s own Yin, and the Yin of Nature.
Yin needs to be understood so we know how to moderate our ‘lifestyles’ during the Yin seasons we call Autumn and Winter.
YIN: A Time of Receptivity
In the Yin time of year—from Summer Solstice to Winter Solstice—to be in BALANCE, one must recognize and practice the dynamic of RECEIVING.
Interestingly, at this time of Autumn Equinox, as we ready ourselves to move deeper into YIN ... Emptiness ... we’re equally ready to Harvest the bounty of YANG ... Fullness ... that has been growing in our fields and gardens since Spring.
Conserve Your Reserve
Health-WISE, we have just received the bounty of Yang energy we call Summer. Our bodies have been warmed and strengthened, and are now better prepared to combat the microorganisms trying to infect us through our LUNGS in Autumn and Winter.
Like our ancestors, who understood the necessity of storing as much of their harvest as possible, we need to CONSERVE the Energy ... the Chi ... we’ve cultivated throughout Spring and Summer so that we have an energy RESERVE to receive from as the easy energy of late-Summer wanes and cold and darkness expand.
How can Emptiness, the essence of Yin, be appreciated and enjoyed? Emptiness waits, exists, until something fills it. Appreciate Emptiness for the opportunity it provides to be filled. How? Be receptive—ready to receive. Savor your capacity to be FULL-filled.
Don’t accept the negative connotation of emptiness. Emptiness is the precondition to being fulfilled. And fulfillment is a reason for being alive.
Good Sense in Autumn
Sink and Retreat
Autumn is the time of year when the Chi or Energy around us is ‘sinking’ and ‘retreating.’ As plant life sends its Life Force down, deep into its roots, the days shorten all the way to Winter solstice.
Just as we put away our Summer clothes and replace them with what we’ll wear in Autumn and Winter, there are other day-to-day things we need to adjust also: like what to eat, how to exercise, how much rest to get.
The animals and plants who share the Earth with us know they need to adjust to the change of season. Now is the time for people to recover our knowing about how to change with the seasons of the year - and the seasons of our life - so we can stay healthy and pass on a healthy environment to our children and next generations.