Welcome to Fall! It is by far my favorite season but I consider it to be one of the most precarious for our health. Fall is a transitional season from the highly energetic Summer/Late Summer, which in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the most Yang (energy) time of year. With the days growing shorter and colder, now is a crucial time to consolidate the yang energy of summer and transform it into yin energy. Much like how our parents and grandparents harvested crops and prepared foods for winter, Fall is the time to ensure our energy & immunity is at its best for the long winter.
In TCM, the season of Fall is correlates to the TCM organ Lungs (paired with TCM organ Large Intestine). The Lungs responsibilities are to gather the air that we breathe and mix it with the energy of the foods we eat and transform it into defensive energy (wei qi). This energy circulates around the surface of the body, protecting us from pathogens, helps open and close the pores, regulates body temperature and controls sweating.
The emotion of the lungs is grief/sadness. Those with healthy Lungs hold onto their principles, keep commitments and are able to let go of objects or relationships without emotional upheaval. Unresolved, chronic sadness contracts the lungs and leads to an impairment of the Lungs ability to disperse immunity qi.
Physically, the Lungs open to the nose: ailments like sinusitis, bronchitis and blocked air passageways indicate a Lung qi imbalance. Luminous skin that is neither dry nor too moist indicates healthy Lung qi.
Other common symptoms of imbalanced Lung qi are: exhaustion, poor immunity, excess mucous, congested breathing.
4 ways to improve immunity, boost Lung qi and keep healthy this Fall:
1. Cultivate a daily practice for breath work: whether its through yoga, meditation or cardiovascular exercise: find ways to lengthen and deepen your breath. Deep belly breaths strengthen the function of the lungs and surrounding soft tissue as well as getting more oxygen into your body and blood.
2. Practice the art of letting go: the old adage applies: for every person, place or thing, there is a season. Consider objects, relationships or memories that no longer server you but that remain in your life. Consider releasing toxic people from your day to day. Give away objects that are simply taking up space. Be more mindful in what you attach yourself to. Remember: holding on to something takes energy: letting go frees it up.
3. Eat Lung protective and purifying foods.
Pungent Foods: spicy foods help disperse stuck, mucus-y energy. In TCM, Falls color is white, so consider white pungent foods: garlic, onion, turnip, horseradish.
Mucilaginous Foods : these foods help to renew the mucoid membrane: seaweeds, kombu, marshmallow root, flaxseed and fenugreek.
Dark Green/ Golden Orange Veggies: Chalk full of beta carotene which protects the surfaces and mucous membranes of the body. In turn this will help bolster the peripheral immune activity of qi.
Eat Your Fiber: Fiber is known to cleanse the lungs and colon (2 of the highest cancer rates in Canada) by increasing the helpful bacteria growth in the colon. This helps to assimilate nutrients and increases the formation of cancer resistant bowel acids.
4. Get regular acupuncture treatments: Acupuncture can help specifically nourish Lung qi and help promote parasympathetic engagement. It can help boost immunity (the needle is a foreign object introduced into the body – and the immune system activates by increasing white blood cell count).