“The wise nourish life by flowing with the four seasons and adapting to cold or heat, by harmonizing joy and anger in a tranquil dwelling, by balancing yin and yang, and what is hard and soft.”
The light of the day is beginning to take on a golden slanting angle, as the leaves tumble down in the chilly winds, and we begin to dig out those cozy warm sweaters and scarves. Our carefree summer attitudes slowly begin to turn inward, cultivating more self-care and introspection, as we make our way into the coming Winter months.
In Chinese Medicine, Autumn, or Fall, is the season associated with the Lungs, and the Metal element. This season governs setting limits, protecting boundaries, and getting organized. The energy of the lungs is letting go—clearing old patterns and habits to make room for new experiences. Its function is to “take in the new”—like deep breaths of clean, crisp autumn air. To be in harmony with this season, it is a good idea to look at what is not serving you/your highest self, and to clear it out—reorganize, clean, and donate. Become aware of areas of negativity in your life and see if you can find ways to avoid them or let them go. The Metal element helps us generate our sense of self-worth, so taking time for more self-love and attention to our own needs also helps strengthen our lung system.
When looking at problems associated with any organ, Chinese Medicine separates different symptoms according to the Yin/Yang system of classification. This system helps to break down basic illnesses into categories of differentiation, such as hot/cold, wet/dry, strong/weak. Being in harmony with the Fall season, one would begin to eat more warming foods, such as cooked squash and sweet potatoes, cabbage, pears, apples, walnuts, almonds, and olives, and adding spices like ginger, cardamon, and cinnamon, garlic, scallions, leeks, and black pepper. Take walks outside in the fresh fall air and enjoy the colors that surround you. Take a hot bath with some essential oils—like lavender and eucalyptus, and sleep in a little bit later.
The lungs are in charge of our Wei Qi, or Protective Qi. This type of Qi is closely associated with our immune system—our ability to fight off any evil pathogens that we are exposed to. By strengthening our lungs, we also boost our natural defense system.
There are many Chinese herbal formulas that have been used for centuries to help strengthen the lungs and Wei qi. They, too, are differentiated by the Yin/Yang system. Here are a few examples of formulae and their uses for specific symptomology:
Wind-Invasion—basic symptoms of the common cold, such as sneezing, chills and/or fever, aversion to wind, stiff neck and shoulders, sore throat, ear ache, runny nose, sinus congestion
Lung Heat—cough with thick sticky yellow phlegm, fever, heaviness in chest, sore throat, thirst, swollen tonsils
Cold in the Lung—chills, neck pain, thick white copious phlegm, cough, slight or no fever
–Gui Zhi Tang
Deficiency of Wei Qi/Lung Qi—frequent colds, aversion to cold or wind, shortness of breath, weakness
Dryness in the Lungs—dry mouth, dry cough, dry skin, restlessness, fever, bronchitis (with no phegm), shortness of breath, body aches
Phlegm in the Lungs—cough with copious phlegm, choking/vomiting of phlegm, shortness of breath, gurgling sound,
–Ban Xia Hou Po Tang