Fall is my favorite season of the year!  The sound of leaves crunching under my feet, feeling the crisp, cool air on my face and the smell of cooked apples and cinnamon fill the air!

Not only is there a change in the temperature, but also the hours of sunlight, the color of the leaves and even the shift of familiar foods stocked in the grocery store.  Some of my favorites include pumpkin, butternut squash and honeycrisp apples.

I have been seeing several patients with allergies, hayfever and histamine issues, which points to lung imbalances.  In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), this is associated with a grieving or ‘letting go’ process.

In regards to the Five-Element-Theory, autumn represents the ‘metal’ phase, where the lung and large intestine channels are highlighted.

Autumn and back-to-school season is also a natural time to shift from a more ‘expansive’ of summer season (traveling, being together with friends, staying up later) to a more ‘contractive’ time of staying home, sleeping in and turning inward.

Take some time and connect with yourself; ‘tune-in’ to your body and take note of how your daily rhythms change with the seasons.

Below is a list of some things you can do to prepare your body for the coming fall season and on into the winter months.

The Emotions of the Lung and Large Intestine

As previously mentioned, the lung and large intestine channels are associated with autumn.  These organs are highlighted during this season.

The lung is a yin organ, which ‘brings in the new’.

The lungs are associated with:

  • Grief and sadness (these emotions can stagnate the lung meridian)
  • Difficulty letting go

When lung qi (energy) is abundant and balanced, the following can increase:

  • Clear mindedness
  • Enhanced self- image
  • A sense of peace and calm

The large intestine is a yang organ, which ‘releases the old’.

The large intestine coincides with:

  • Difficulty letting go; negativity
  • Flexibility:  being adaptable to change, stubbornness, uptight or ‘stuck’

When the large intestine qi (energy) is abundant and balanced, there can be enhanced:

  • Relaxation
  • Letting go
  • Adaptability and flow

This change of season can bring about an increased awareness of these emotions.  For example, difficulty letting go or grief can be connected with the loss of summer, which can affect some people in profound ways due to less sunlight and warmth.

It is important to be aware of these aspects of ‘letting go’, so as not to experience feelings of stagnation or an interruption in life’s flow.  These feelings can impact the health of your lungs and large intestine.

Ways to Combat Emotional Stagnation

If you are at an emotional standstill or feel as if the depression/sadness will never end, please consult your physician or health care professional.  Traditional Chinese Medicine can help you move through these feelings in a healthy way.

In this Season of Letting Go:

  1. Breathe – Breathe in the cool, fresh air of autumn.  Breathe-in for 5 seconds, breathe out for 5 seconds.  Slow and steady on the exhale.
  2. Purge – Pick a closet or drawer and get rid of some unused items/clothing.  Maybe donate to a favorite local charity.
  3. Forgive old hurts – Fall/Thanksgiving is a great time to forgive unresolved emotion/conflict.  It is a great burden (especially for the lungs and large intestine) to hang onto these past hurts/emotions.  Say a prayer and let them go!
  4. Give – Fall is a great time to give away what you no longer need or what is no longer serving you.  Also, giving to others, in general, whether it is your time or unused/unwanted items is a very healing/balancing process.
  5. Sleep – Sleep serves so many purposes and is so important.  Even the brain goes through a cleansing process at night while you sleep (via the glymphatic system).  So, give yourself the gift of some extra sleep!

Food to Eat in the Fall:

  • Cooked vegetables
  • Parsnips
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Horseradish
  • Orange vegetables (winter squash)
  • Onions
  • Vinegars
  • Fermented foods (yogurt, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut)
  • Lemons, limes
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Spices (bay leaves, black pepper, chili, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, rosemary)
  • Dark, leafy winter greens (kale, chard, mustard greens, etc)
  • Warming soups and stews

Foods to Avoid in the Fall:

  • Cucumbers
  • Watermelon
  • Cold drinks
  • Raw foods (opt for cooked vegetables vs. salads)

Incorporating some of these tips/suggestions can ease you into this coming season of abundant possibilities.  Wishing you a happy, healthy fall harvest!