Updated: Jan 2
As the season officially changes today, it’s time to bring into the conscious mind that it’s time to pivot from the action packed hot summer days and warm nights to the more consolidating actions with the temperate days and cool nights of the fall.
It’s the time of the harvest, both literally and metaphorically. It’s a valuable time to look inwards, reflect on your life, your dreams and your goals. Just as the deciduous trees lose their leaves, it’s a powerful time to let go of life choices that are no longer serving you.
In Chinese medical theory, the fall season is associated with the Lungs. This means the Lungs are at their most active point of the year. It also means the Lungs are more susceptible to all the influences that are in your life. If your body is out of balance, it’s a common time for any type of Lung issue to arise and/or get exacerbated. We all think of this time as the beginning of cold and flu season. People with issues like asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and even sleep apnea often notice their symptoms become aggravated during this time of year.
An important function of the Lungs is to produce Wei Qi - which is the equivalent to the western concept of the immune system. Wei Qi protects the body against harmful external influences (e.g. cold and flu viruses). When the Lungs are healthy and balanced, the immune system can often avoid illness, or suffer less if you do get sick. When the lungs are out of balance, it’s much more likely to suffer from respiratory conditions.
Chinese medical theory has been discussing this for millennia, and now the western world is starting to realize how deeply related the digestive system and the respiratory system are. They have found that 70% of the immune cells are in the gut (https://connect.uclahealth.org/2021/03/19/want-to-boost-immunity-look-to-the-gut/). If you’re eating too many inflammatory foods, cold and raw foods, or foods that your body just doesn’t like, it's stressing the gut AND the immune system.
It’s the time to cut out the cold and raw foods. Replace them by grilling or broiling…it makes them delicious!
Foods that are beneficial for the Lungs include pears, apples, papaya, figs, persimmon, winter squash, root vegetables, kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, sesame seeds, sprouted nuts, sprouted seeds. Think about things that are ripening and being harvested right now.
The emotion often associated with Lungs is grief. Think about people you know with a lot of unresolved grief. They usually have sunken chests and chronic coughs. When grief comes up, it’s healthy to FEEL it. Let the tears flow. Researchers at Harvard have shown that crying can release oxytocin and endorphins, which ease both emotional and physical pain (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/is-crying-good-for-you-2021030122020). In Chinese medical theory they’ve shown that unresolved grief leads to a myriad of Lung issues.
Another way to support your Lungs this fall include protecting yourself against the wind and cold. It’s very important to keep the cold wind of the neck. When cold wind does hit the back of the neck, the immune system gets compromised and the pathogens can attack the body.
Deep breathing exercises build strong healthy Lungs, reset the nervous system, slow the heartbeat, stabilize blood pressure and many other things. Take time to do deep diaphragmatic breathing daily.
Have an acupuncture tune up. Acupuncture increases the body’s immune cells, decreases inflammation in the body and regulates blood circulation (and many other things!).
Give your body, mind and spirit the love and care it needs. Invest in yourself! You are worth it!