In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), autumn is associated primarily with the lungs. It is the optimal time to focus on nourishing the lungs, doing a cleanse, building the immune system, and preserving yin. Autumn reminds us all to reap what we have sown. We become a bit less carefree than we were in the summer months and a bit more serious as the night falls earlier and the air gets cooler. As autumn marks the waning of the yang cycle and the beginning of the yin cycle it is natural to feel like you want to take more time for introspection and to contemplate your emotions and actions. Our energy naturally goes inward so that we have the opportunity to evaluate our life and to learn lessons so that we may emerge stronger come the New Year.
Grief is the emotion that can weaken the lungs, making them susceptible to infections, the common cold or even a chronic dry cough. Letting go is often the action that help to strengthen the lungs. The inability or unwillingness to let go can be energetically draining, especially at a time when we should be conserving energy and building our immune system. In the fall, there are several things we can do to help nourish the yin energy of the lungs and build immune function:
1. Sleep more. It is best if sleep can be as regular as is possible, i.e. going to bed and getting up in the morning at the same time each day. Come autumn, it is very helpful to adjust the amount of sleep we have according to the amount of sun we get. For instance, going to bed a bit earlier than we were in the summer and getting up before the crack of dawn.
2. Protect yourself from cold and wind exposure by wearing a scarf and dressing in layers. The lungs are the most tender organ, as they open up to the external environment and are often the first to be exposed to pathogens such as viruses and bacteria.
3. Cleanse the skin by dry brushing. The skin is governed by the lungs and is the largest organ of the body. It helps protect us from external pathogens. Dry brushing helps the body helps clear toxins from the lymphatic system, not to mention it makes our skin glow and feel smooth.
4. Cleanse the colon by increasing fiber in the diet, by introducing a good probiotic to your daily regimen, and by avoiding eating sugars and yeast. Try a mini juice cleanse during the weekend to kick off fall or even do a wild rose cleanse, which can help release the old and clear the body and energy in preparation for the new. Doing a cleanse with your best friend, partner, or office buddy can help make it easier to commit to the process.
5. Breathe! Breathe deeply and slowly into the far reaches of your lungs. Breathing supplies organs with the functional energy that they need to run efficiently, it also increases circulation and aids the body in its natural detoxification process.
6. Avoid eating dairy and cold raw foods – these foods can produce a lot of dampness or phlegm in the body. They are difficult to digest and create an internal environment that can harm the spleen. In traditional chinese medicine, when the spleen is weakened it can cause dampness and phlegm to build up in the body resulting in water retention, bloating, candida overgrowth, sensations of heaviness in the body, low energy, and a cloudy mind.
7. Eat mild pungent spices like garlic, ginger, and onions to strengthen immune system and lung function. Incorporating pears, turnips, radishes, cabbage, and/or parsnips to your diet is very helpful at this time of year as they all nourish the lungs.
8. Get regular maintenance treatments of acupuncture, massage therapy, reiki, yoga therapy, or chiropractic adjustments to help your body feel balanced. Acupuncture in particular helps the body to adjust to its external environment. It aids in releasing not only physical issues but emotional ones as well. Acupuncture can also help to improve immune function, promote healthy sleep, improve digestion, increase circulation, and calm the nervous system.
Suka Lang practices acupuncture in Vancouver, B.C. When not at her clinic she can be found on the seawall, walking her dog, and turning everybody onto her green smoothie recipes. If you have any questions regarding this article, acupuncture, or TCM, please email firstname.lastname@example.org