In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each season has its own unique qualities. Historically, people were guided to live in harmony with nature, with seasons linked to specific organ systems, emotions and elements. Autumn corresponds with the lungs and large intestine, the emotion of grief, and the element of metal.
It is a time to start the inward reflection in preparation for the long, dark winter ahead. We reflect on the work still to complete. We reflect on the emotions we need to resolve. We fill the empty cupboards with sustenance for the colder months. It is a time of balancing before the body winds down for the long winter. Unresolved grief and sadness may reappear, but it is important to simply observe these emotions as travelling companions rather than weaknesses.
Autumn can be a vulnerable time for our health, with the two cornerstones of our immune system, the lungs and the large intestines, in the spotlight. Chills enter the body through the spine, so keeping the neck and lower back covered and warm during the cold weather is important (so wear a scarf!). This is especially important for children, who can tend to be a bit fearless in cold weather, fighting the need for a coat! Keep on top of sinus and chest infections by using a few drops of Oil of Oregano in the shower to create a decongesting vapour. Although it can be tempting to stay indoors, still make sure you get regular fresh air and exercise to bring quality energy and clean air to the lungs.
Eat for the season
The digestive system in Traditional Chinese Medicine is a warm environment that functions poorly with excessive raw and cold foods. The warmer weather of the summer months allows for more raw and cold foods, such as salads and cold drinks, to be tolerated. But as the weather gets colder, it is very important to support your body’s fuel factory by eating warm, cooked foods. A great breakfast for a cold morning is porridge with warming spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. Soups and stews made with stock, root vegetables and slow cooked meat are the ideal winter fare. Adding anti-viral herbs such as oregano, thyme, and garlic will further enhance the immune-boosting power of your meals.
Your body makes its energy, known as Qi, by combining the food you eat (Gu Qi) with the air you breathe (Kong Qi), so minding these precious organ systems throughout their season of autumn is an immense gift to your wellbeing.
Fiona O'Farrell is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Naturopath. She runs The Gate Clinic in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. See www.thegateclinic.ie
for more information.