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  • Writer's pictureDr. Monica L. Hilton, DACM, LAc

TCM Tips for Fall

Fall is here! 🍂 The days are shorter, the weather is cooler – at least in some areas, 🙃 and leaves are starting to turn brown. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Fall is associated with the Metal element and is known as the time of the Lungs. During this time of year, it's important to balance the Lung energy and make the necessary dietary and lifestyle adjustments to harmonize with the season.

In a previous blog post, we discussed the theory of Five Elements - Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. This ancient Chinese system serves as a guide to understanding the correspondences between the body and nature. Each element has its own set of characteristics and correspondences in nature. The Metal element corresponds to the following:

Season: Autumn Stage of Development: Harvest

Direction: West Organs: Lungs and Large Intestine

Color: White Sense Organ: Nose

Taste: Pungent Tissue: Skin

Climate: Dryness Emotion: Grief

According to TCM theory, the Lungs govern Qi and respiration, regulate the water passages, control the skin, and open into the nose. The Lungs also control the channels and blood vessels, are sensitive to cold and dryness, and govern the voice. When the Lung qi is imbalanced the drier Fall weather can trigger a dry nose, itchy throat, chapped lips, and rough, dry skin. Colds, allergies, cough, sinus issues, and asthma are all conditions due to an imbalance of the Lungs. These imbalances can be corrected with acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and TCM nutrition.

We can regulate the Lungs and harmonize with the season by adjusting our diet and making a few lifestyle changes. Here are a few tips to help you this fall:

Get acupuncture. In the Fall we tend to be more susceptible to respiratory illnesses. Acupuncture can strengthen the Lung qi, boost immunity, and reduce symptoms associated with seasonal allergies.

Incorporate foods that benefit the Lungs into your regular diet. During the Fall it’s important to eat cooked vegetables and warm dishes. Eat pungent foods like ginger, cabbage, garlic, turnip, and daikon radish that protect the Lungs. Vegetables like kale, mustard greens, broccoli, carrot, pumpkin, and winter squash are also beneficial this time of year. Foods like tofu, spinach, barley, pear, almonds, apple, pine nuts, honey, and sesame seeds can moisten the Lungs and Large Intestine.

Stay covered! Like Spring, Fall weather can be unpredictable. Keep a sweater, light jacket, or scarf nearby. Do your best to reduce exposure to drafts and keep your neck covered to protect yourself from pathogenic wind.

Keep moving! A sedentary lifestyle contributes to poor respiration and elimination. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day 5 days a week. Mild exercises like stretching, walking, tai chi, and qi gong can all get the qi flowing. 😉

Stay hydrated! Fall is associated with dryness. Proper hydration is essential to regulate body temperature, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly.

Have some tea with honey! Honey has natural antibacterial and antiviral properties. In TCM, honey moistens dryness, relieves cough, and moistens the Lungs. Green tea is high in antioxidants and catechins that inhibit the release of histamine. Histamine is the chemical released in the body during an allergic response that triggers the typical allergy symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes. Both can be beneficial this time of year, especially for those who suffer from Fall seasonal allergies.

Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to share these TCM health tips with a friend. See you soon! 😊

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