Staying Healthy and Balanced in Autumn, A Yin Season
In autumn leaves begin to fall and farmers start harvesting their fields. The weather will start to get cooler and the sun will set earlier. The leaves will turn from a rich green color to a rainbow of yellow, orange and red.
Now is the time to store the harvest for the cold winter season ahead. To maintain good health, the body also needs to be in harmony with such cycles of nature.
Huang Di Nei Jing wrote about fall in “The Inner Classic of the Yellow Emperor”, an ancient Chinese medical test that serves as the fundamental source in Chinese medicine.
“In the three months of autumn all things in nature reach their full maturity. The grains ripen and harvesting occurs. The heavenly energy cools, as does the weather. This is the changing or pivoting point when the yang, or active, phase turns into its opposite, the yin, or passive phase. Just as the weather in autumn turns harsh, so does the emotional climate. It is therefore important to remain calm and peaceful, so that one can make the transition to winter smoothly. This is the time to gather one’s spirit and energy and be more focused. This means practicing breathing exercises to enhance lung Qi. Also, one should refrain from smoking and grief, the emotion of lung. This will prevent kidney or digestive problems in the winter. If this natural order is violated, damage will occur to the lungs, resulting in diarrhea with undigested food in the winter. This compromises the body’s ability to store in winter.”
Fall, A Time of Reflection: Transition for Body and Mind
Fall is the season associated with the element “metal”. According to TCM, the metal element governs the mind, organization, order, and stability. We tend to be more reflective, turning towards our work, our families and our homes during this time. Back from summer holidays, back to school and work…it can be a busy time. It Is encouraged not to overload our schedules, allow time for reflection and adjustment. The whole family may be feeling mixed emotions or a bit overwhelmed during this transition time.
Emotionally, this season is associated with grief and sadness. It is important to keep the mind clear and “let go” of negative emotions, which can impact health more strongly during the fall.
Autumn corresponds to the lungs, skin, and large intestines. The lungs and large intestines are in charge of respiration, digestion, and elimination. Common symptoms associated with the lung and large intestine imbalances are respiratory problems, such as asthma, shortness of breath, frequent colds, and sinus infections, as well as constipation and skin problems.
The body is particularly susceptible to wind and cold during fall. Dryness can cause symptoms of coughing, dry nose, sore throat, dry skin, dry hair and scalp, dry mouth and cracked lips, and hard and dry stools. Adding more nourishing yin foods to your diet can soothe the lungs and protect you from dryness.
To help the body adjusting to this season, switch from uncooked and cooling foods - such as salads – to more warm and cooked foods. For example, we may change from salads to soups and steamed vegetables such as winter squash, winter peas, broccoli, sweet potatoes etc. Incorporate yellow and red foods into your meals.
Here are some more warm and nourishing foods and herbs to add to your fall diet:
Apple, banana, pear, cranberry, plums, grapes, figs, persimmons, pomegranate etc.
Bell pepper, beetroot, cabbage, red cabbage, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrot, cauliflower, horseradish, leeks, pumpkin, spinach
Cinnamon, garlic, sage, thyme, rosemary etc.
Pheasant, chicken, deer etc.
Eel, salmon, trout, tuna, shrimps, scampi
As you make the transition to autumn in Shanghai, it’s a good time for a tune up of body and soul. Particularly if you experience frequent seasonal illnesses, TCM can rebalance your body and boost your natural defenses. Our psychologists can help you process your emotions, adjust to life changes, strengthen relationships and build tools to turn challenges into opportunities. Get in touch with us to schedule an assessment and find out how TCM and other therapies can benefit your health.
Body & Soul combines Eastern medicine and Western science to provide the most natural, effective health solutions in four convenient locations throughout Shanghai. Services offered are covered by insurances and include TCM and acupuncture, osteopathy, chiropractic, physical therapy (including pelvic floor rehabilitation), psychological counselling, podiatry and functional medicine among others. Follow us on Wechat for more health and wellness tips!