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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.

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.

Pictures of Health

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.

Scallion Broth
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.

Ginger Tea
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. 

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.

Valentine’s Day: A Matter of the Heart (and Kidneys)

Happy Valentine’s Day! a celebration of the Heart — whose health depends on strong Kidneys. As Valentine’s Day inspires you to feel love in your heart, I encourage you to also focus for a minute or two on the level of energy (health) you’re feeling, or not feeling, in your Heart and Kidneys.

Tired Kidneys

Your Kidneys are probably pretty pooped by this time in Winter, leaving you feeling low in energy. Look at the Five Element Cycle of Regulation illustration on this page and you’ll notice that the ‘Water’ element, embodied in your Kidneys, regulates the ‘Fire’ element, which is embodied in your Heart.

So if your Kidneys are low in energy they won’t be able to adequately support the Heart, and as a result, the Heart function can get a bit out of alignment.

5 Element Theory: Cycle of Regulation

Heart Problems

If you’re already predisposed to Heart problems, you may be experiencing things like a little bit of extra pressure in the chest, or maybe some mild heart irregularities in the rhythm and beat, usually not to the extent of interfering with breathing; but for people who have compromised Heart energy, these symptoms may be more present at this point in Winter.

Now is the time of year to start rebuilding the strength of your Kidneys.

Now is the time of year to start rebuilding the strength of your Kidneys.

Strengthening Kidneys and Heart

A ‘rule of thumb’ for good health is this: toward the middle and end of each season, focus on rebuilding the strength of the organ that is the focal point for that season. Right now, in Mid-Winter, it’s your Kidneys. And because each organ system has a companion organ that it regulates, (at mid-winter it’s your Heart), it’s a good idea to pay some attention to the companion organ too so that it will be in tune and ready to go when its season to perform comes—for the Heart, that’s summer).

How To Strengthen Your Organs

Acupuncture, Chinese Medicinal Herbs, Healthy Eating: The 5 Element Way and Chi Kung are simple, time-tested ways to balance the energy in the seasonally affected organs, and to build your overall level of energy so that you can enjoy that most wonderful, yet subtle, of feelings: Good Health!

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Staying Healthy in Winter
Winter Photos

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IMPORTANT: All information on this Web site is provided for educational use only and not meant to substitute for the advice of a local Oriental Medicine practitioner, biomedical doctor, experienced coach, or martial arts instructor.