Fall is my favorite season, likely because I'm a fall baby. (Shout out to all my Libras out there!) What can I say - I love the feeling of the crisp morning air, cozy sweaters, boots, and pumpkin everything. While everyone is sipping their pumpkin-spiced lattes and adventuring to apple orchards, nature is preparing for winter by beginning to contract inwards. The leaves put on a beautiful show before they fall off trees, seeds dry, the sap of trees goes into the roots, and the grass begins the slow fade into dormancy. Nature lets go of its final abundant harvest. It leaves behind the yang energy of summer and spring and moves toward the slower yin energy of fall and winter. The energy of this season supports letting go of stuff holding us back and leaving us open to pure and new endless opportunities that await when we let go of those things that are not serving us.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) embraces a concept known as the Five Element Theory to explain a wide variety of phenomena, from cosmic cycles to the interaction between the body’s internal organs to personality types. The five elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water, and we all tend to be one predominant “type” from among the five elements; however, no one is one hundred percent one type alone. The Metal element is associated with Autumn. The Metal personality type appreciates solitude, peace, and order. They are goal orientated and strive for perfectionism and purity. They can be stubborn and inflexible. To learn more about the other five element types, check out this post on the Fire element and relationships or this post on the Water element and winter.
Lungs and Large intestine
Five Element theory in Chinese medicine has a yin and yang organ pair. The Metal element is associated with the Lung and the Large Intestine. The lungs govern our breath, move energy (qi) downwards to the rest of the organs, regulate the opening and closing of our pores, and are the first line of defense against pathogens. Breathing is a chemical and mechanical process that brings oxygen to every cell and removes carbon dioxide in the body. Each cycle of breath is a chance for us to begin again. The Large Intestine is responsible for excreting waste and protecting the body from accumulating toxins. Physically, this is very important for our bodies, but we must also rid our bodies of emotional and mental junk.
These two organs work in sync- the lung takes in clean air and sends it to all of our cells, and the large intestine functions to rid the body of waste. When these two organs are not functioning correctly, it's easy to see how it can lead to physical pathologies such as cough, constipation, diarrhea, allergies, shortness of breath, nasal congestion, and frequent colds. But how does not letting go of something affect our mind and spirit? For example, when you have a relationship you feel stuck in, a job you dislike, or have problems saying no. Instead of feeling inspired, content, and peaceful with our lives, we feel depressed, negative, and stuck in a never-ending cycle.
Grief is the emotion of the Metal element. Grief allows us to process the "letting go" of things that are not serving us. However, when the energy of these organs is blocked, our expression of grief becomes imbalanced. If grief is not expressed, it can cause long-term contraction of the lungs. This interferes with the Lung's function of dispersing nutrients and qi downwards to the rest of the organs. Ultimately, the lungs become congested with undistributed matter, and can create problems in the lungs and the large intestine.
So I ask you, what can you get rid of this Fall? What is no longer serving you? What keeps you up at night when you are trying to sleep? Is there any unprocessed sadness? Perhaps, this issue is causing your physical symptoms. Our bodies are brilliant, and when something manifests physically, take the time to listen and go inward. I believe you must let go of the things holding you back or keeping you small to make room for greatness. Even if it seems scary, know that taking one step is all it takes for your life to get back on track.
Wellness tips for Autumn & Metal Element
Get acupuncture! Acupuncture can boost your immune function and can help strengthen the function of your Lungs and Large Intestine to help with allergies, colds, constipation, and diarrhea.
Minimize raw foods such as salads and smoothies because, at this point in the season, our bodies need more cooked and warming foods such as soups and stews because it is easier for digestion. The longer cooking times enrich the body's yin because the foods retain more moisture.
Fire up the stove for making bone broths. This superfood provides a delicious protein-rich snack that supports our immune function. I break down all things bone broth in this blog post.
For those who suffer from seasonal allergies - avoid mucus-producing foods such as dairy products, soy products, peanuts, and refined sugars.
Pungent foods can help disperse mucus, such as onion, garlic, turnip, ginger, or horseradish.
Dark green and golden-orange vegetables protect our immune systems because of their rich beta-carotene content. These include carrot, winter squash, pumpkin, broccoli, parsley, kale, turnip, mustard greens, watercress, and microalgae.
Other ways to boost your immune system: Vitamin D, Zinc, good sleep, and daily movement.
Take an audit of anything you might want to release this season. This could be material things in your home, a relationship, a job, a belief about yourself, or some stagnant emotions.
Remember to breathe! Breathwork practices are great for moving stagnant energy in the Lungs, diaphragm, and solar plexus.
Contact me to discuss how acupuncture can help with your symptoms.