Fall in Chinese Medicine

Cherry Blossoms

In all fairness, I love the transition time between late summer and early fall. The earth smells sweeter, the air crisper, goldenrod covers fields with a sweet yellow color and the sky is a brilliant hue of blue. Within us as well, we may feel a sense of change as the time passes and the days begin to get shorter and darker. 

Fall in Chinese Medicine is a time of reflection and introspection, assimilation, and clearance of all that we have gained in the previous seasons of spring and summer. Fall is associated with the Lungs, Large Intestine, and the Metal Element. Typical fall-related ailments that we see include allergies, common colds, sinus problems, skin problems, grief/sadness, changes in bowel movements, fatigue, and depression. 

Letting Go

As we transition from summer to fall, it is not uncommon to see a rise in allergies or any other Lung-related ailments at this time. In Chinese Medicine, different seasons are associated with different climatic factors that directly affect the organs they are associated with. 

So for example, summer is associated with heat and the Heart, therefore it is not unusual to see cases of insomnia that are related to heat disturbing the Heart. Fall is associated with dryness and the Lungs and so, it is not unusual to have allergies or sinus problems that present as dry in nature. 

As each season passes along with its corresponding organs and climate factors, there are transition times that morph one season into another, creating a mixture of possible ailments and illnesses during that period. So while we might associate the fall with dryness, it would not be uncommon to see some lingering heat as well from the summer.

On an emotional level, fall corresponds to grief in Chinese Medicine. Yin organs are typically paired with an emotion, a season, a color, taste and so much more in Chinese Medicine. As the fall is associated with the Lungs, its paired emotion is grief, the color white, and a pungent taste. It’s not atypical for grief to resurface at this time because the Lungs helps us through breathing, we can process old emotions and practice releasing them. 

Our Acupuncturists here at Cherry Blossom Healing Arts understand these concepts well and ensure that your treatments are well informed in order to make the right herbal prescriptions, tailor personalized acupuncture treatments and make dietary consultations based on your presentation. 

The Metal Chinese Element and Fall 

Fall is associated with the Lungs and Large Intestine and Metal. These two organs are paired together because their functions compliment each other and facilitate communication. The Lungs are considered a “delicate organ” as they are able to connect the exterior and internal environments. 

Through the act of breathing, we inhale the outside environment and our Lungs are able to alchemically transform those inhaled molecules into something that oxygenates our blood and helps with the removal of toxic substances. In short, our Lungs are miraculous. As our Lungs are able to help us connect within and without, the Large Intestine also has similar functions. 

Through the Large Intestine, we reabsorb water and important nutrients before the body ejects the waste. The Large Intestine is the last pit stop of digestion and as such, the Large Intestine acts as a gatekeeper. 

On a psychosomatic level, fall and the Metal Element, ask us to syncretize our experiences of spring and summer and in that process ask ourselves, “What is mine to keep and what needs to be released and let go?” The Metal Element deals with transformation and to transform we need to have clarity of what is serving us and what is not. 

As we approach winter, which is connected to the Water Element, we have to be ready for a time of stillness, hibernation and in order to do that, we need to be grounded within ourselves to ease into that stillness. Fall allows for that process to happen. 

How to Nourish Your Body in the Fall 

When you think of Chinese medicine fall recipes, think about aromatic spices like chai tea spices. Pungent foods are best for fall as they help with the cleansing and protection of the Lungs and Large Intestine. Pungent foods need not be super spicy to have this effect. The onion family, for example, that contains foods such as garlic, onion, ginger, horseradish, white peppercorns are a great example of this. 

In addition to pungent foods, mucilaginous or moist foods are also important. They help protect and replace mucous membranes of the colon and the lungs and also remove old thick mucoid deposits. These foods include seaweeds and certain herbs and spices such as flaxseed, fenugreek, and marshmallow root. 

Another favorite of mine to eat at this time are dark green and golden-orange vegetables. These foods tend to be rich in Provitamin A (beta-carotene) which also helps protect the mucous membranes. Foods such as carrot, winter squash, pumpkin, butternut squash, parsley, akle, turnip, mustard greens, watercress, and nettles are great sources of beta-carotene.

Along with eating a rich, nutritious diet, keeping warm and breathing more deeply can be helpful at this time. With weather changes, it is easy to catch colds if improperly dressed. The breath can help us let go and release the old, allowing us to be more present. 

TCM Can Help you Every Season

We want you to feel great and breathe well. To see how we can be of help in fall (and every season for that matter!), go on over to our booking page and schedule your first appointment. If you’d like us to check your insurance benefits, we’d be happy to take care of that for you. We are in-network with CareFirst/BlueCross and Aetna.

About the Author

Vallerie Mwazo, L.Ac, Dipl.OM, MAOM
Former Associate Acupuncturist at Cherry Blossom Healing Arts

I enjoy working one on one with patients in order to provide the best care possible. I like building relationships with my patients because it enables me to further understand what they need most during each session.

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