Editor’s note: Wellness Word is an informational column which is not meant to replace a healthcare professional’s diagnosis, treatment or medication.
Chinese Medicine’s perspective on the changing season
Chinese Medicine reflects on the seasonal elements in nature to make sense of the changing needs of our bodies. Seasonal changes affect all aspects of our physical, mental and emotional health.
The shift from summer brings us from the earth element towards the metal element of autumn. In harvesting summer’s bounty, early fall has both a real and metaphorical need to separate the wheat from the chaff. As we begin letting go of what is no longer need, we must discern what is important.
We are not unlike the greater cosmic energy, which drops from its summer heights, contracting inward toward the earth’s core for the fall.
This brings up issues of our own letting go, rooting in, and remembering core values. In this process themes include resources, inner-authority and self-worth.
The emotion associated with the metal element is sadness. Respiratory disorders such as asthma and bronchitis as well as gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or constipation can manifest when we habitually hold onto our emotions. Sadness seems natural in the time of year when nature’s own life force seems to diminish.
Letting go is the way to move forward. Sinking into what is most vital provides humankind a lesson in staying in balance. By releasing the excesses and forging more strength for protection, we mimic metal energetics.
Metal is forged into objects that are used in protection, such as a gate or a shield. A metal sword, or ax can also sever or release something. Blades are tools of both protection and release. Locks and keys, or wedding rings are valued items that perform some service of protection.
Organs corresponding to metal are the lungs and large intestine. These organs release both breath and waste, and protect our internal and external boundaries and help maintain internal balance.
The skin is the third organ of the metal element and the health of the lung and large intestine are said to ‘manifest’ in the skin. Observation in the color, sheen and luster of the skin is a tool used diagnostically in Chinese medicine to reveal the health of the lungs and large intestine.
Many of the same qualities apply to the skin. It releases excessive fluid in sweat, which also assists the lymphatic system in excreting stored toxins. In the summer, we are supposed to sweat to remove internal dampness. Air-conditioned living in the summer is just one of the reasons modern living makes us more prone to those seasonal illnesses.
Getting yourself back in alignment with the seasons is pretty simple. In the early fall, start with the breath. Moving the body, or exercising, can take many forms. As long as you are receiving fresh oxygen to your lungs, you are vitalizing your blood, better absorbing minerals.
Your immune system will get a boost as your lungs and bronchial airways clear out old bacteria. Another way to improve the metal energy in your body is through creating healthy boundaries in your daily life. This can mean avoiding the intake of unnecessary impurities, be it of the heart, body or mind. Remember that emotional states can be a signal that your body is out of balance and respond to the message to find balance.
You can also strengthen metal energy by incorporating foods and flavors of the season. The acrid flavor associated with fall is found in garlic, onions, radishes, leeks and ginger. Acrid works to disperse the lung energy outward, helping to fight off colds and flus. Seasonal fruits apple and pear steamed, stewed or baked and served with ingredients such as ghee, cinnamon and honey are good for moistening the lungs and large intestines.
Many of these foods are white, white is the color associated with metal and it’s said that wearing white can accentuate internal feelings of self-worth.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine offer many solutions to help balance the elements in your body, be it through boosting your immune system, in getting your digestive health realigned or in processing on-going grief. Fall is the time to look inward.
Kevi Keenom, LAc, MAcOM, 2505 SE 11th Ave, Suite 268. wildfirefamilyclinic.com. 503.922.2414