Easing Your Body into Autumn

Autumn is the season of the lung.

According to traditional Five Phase Theory, each season has a corresponding internal organ that is influenced by the dynamic forces in nature, and our physiology is strongly influenced by external seasonal changes. Our physical, emotional and spiritual health, are best when we are aware of these changes and actively living in harmony with them.

In the fall, we are transitioning from summer, which is yang in nature – active, expansive, warm, bright,etc. – to the fall season, which is more yin in nature – passive, contractive, cooler, drier and darker. The earth’s energy is beginning to wane and descend.

Look at a tree, for example: its leaves are becoming bright with color due to the temperature’s decline, and will soon begin to brown and drop to the ground. The tree’s sap is naturally moving, downward into the roots to store energy for the long winter ahead.

The lungs rule the skin and protect against external invasion of bacteria and viruses – they are the first line of defense in the cold and flu season. The lungs open to the nose, which indicates that the sinuses, bronchials, air passageways, and the nose itself are all influenced by the lungs.

The lungs are responsible for taking air in and sending it downward in the body to nourish the kidneys. While this function is important in every season it is in the fall when the health of this function becomes more apparent. The individual with healthy, strong lung functioning is able to ward off colds and flu easily.

Some things that you can do to help your body ease into autumn:

  • Eat warming and pungent foods such as hot peppers and chilies, onion, garlic, turnip, ginger, horseradish, cabbage and radish. These warm the body as the air grows cooler.
  • Eat dark green and golden-orange vegetables such as kale, collard greens and winter squash. These are rich in beta-carotene, which is good for lung health.
  • Saute and bake more often, and prepare raw foods less frequently.
  • Drink ginger tea, which gently warms the body.
  • Sleep and rest a little bit more.

Acupuncture treatments assist in every seasonal transition. In the fall, the focus is on strengthening the function of the lungs, which translates into a better ability to ward off colds and flu.