The Fall season in Chinese medicine corresponds to the Metal element and the Lung and Large Intestine organ systems. That is one reason why Lung issues such as colds and coughs are so common this time of year. It is also a time of year that people with constitutional Lung weaknesses are more susceptible to illnesses like bronchitis and pneumonia, young children are more susceptible to croup and those with asthma often see a flare in their symptoms. The emotion associated with the Metal element is grief and sadness and when someone has had a significant loss over the past year, often this can manifest physically with decreased immunity in the Fall. Lungs are also very susceptible and easily aggravated by dryness, which can be prevalent this time of year especially as we start turning on the heat in our homes and offices. The season that corresponds to an organ system can be the season where that organ is most vulnerable, but it can also be the season where it is most able to be strengthened.
So, if you know that your Lung qi may be either temporarily or constitutionally compromised, here are a few tips to help strengthen your lungs, your immunity and your overall health this Fall.
- Avoid excess dryness. This may mean using a humidifier, staying well hydrated, not overusing a wood stove or fireplace.
- Eat pears! Especially cooked. Simmered pears are gently moistening and strengthening for the Lungs. Simmer Asian or any other pear in a little water or cider on the stove and eat warm. You can season with cinnamon and or ginger, which is also nourishing for the Lungs.
- Breathe! Being conscious of taking the time to breathe fully, into your diaphragm and also to get mild physical activity. Using your Lungs the way they are meant to be used helps keep them strong.
- Respect and protect your emotional boundaries. Lungs regulate what we call Wei Qi in Chinese Medicine. This can loosely be associated with your immune system, your first line of defense against pathogens. But Wei qi extends beyond the tangible. Healthy Wei qi allows us to both be flexible and also to say no when we are pushed beyond what is healthy for us. Watch out for agreeing to things that you feel resentful about, especially when you are feeling run down either physically or emotionally.
- Get acupuncture! You had to know that was coming….! We can help any colds and coughs as they come up for sure, but even better, if you know you are prone to Lung issues in the Fall, now is the time to be proactive and come in for some treatment aimed at strengthening your Lung qi and preventing illness.
- Chinese Herbal Formulas. For some people an herbal remedy aimed at gently strengthening Lung qi and the immune system can also help prevent illnesses this time of year.