By Jane Barthelemy. When Fall is in the air, mornings are crisp, and the days are shorter. I feel a tinge of sadness as Summer is ending, and even a slight sense of trepidation. For many it’s a time of colds and flu. For others we’re constantly on the edge of getting sick the whole season. Here are a few pearls of wisdom from Chinese Medicine to make the changes easier.
9 Tips for a Healthy Fall Season:
- Protect the Lungs. Cover up and guard against sudden temperature changes or dryness. Colds, sniffles, and bronchial maladies come with weather changes.
- Strengthen the metabolism with a healthy diet, adequate exercise, and rest.
- Avoid excessive worry, thinking, too much study, irregular mealtimes, or poor food and water, which damage Spleen Qi.
- Do gentle Qigong movements that tonify the lungs. They help our bodies transition to the cold time of year without illness.
- Self-care and rest are important when seasons change, as temperature changes cause extra stress to the body.
- Eat seasonal foods that help moisten the lungs, promote the production of body fluids, and combat dryness. Some suggestions are pears, pumpkin, squash, apples, grapefruit and lemon. Eat warm foods like broth, soups, stews, and porridge. Eat plenty of green veggies, steamed if possible. Avoid sugars, processed foods, refined flours, and wheat which cause stagnation and dampness (mucus & congestion). Herbs are great for the lungs like bay leaves, caraway seeds, cardamom, chives, cinnamon, cloves, dill, fennel, leek, oregano, nutmeg, rosemary, thyme, and turmeric. Pungent veggies help stimulate the lungs, such as watercress, cabbage, turnip, ginger, horseradish, pepper, onions, and garlic.
- It’s normal to feel sadness at the end of Summer. Listen to your body and go ahead and let it feel what it feels. When we face the emotion directly, it can digest and dissolve.
- Do a daily nasal rinse and say good-bye to colds and sniffles. My favorite is NeilMed Sinus Rinse Kit, easier than a neti pot. I keep it in the shower.
- Do something fun! Go dancing! Take a hike. Get together with friends.
Autumn is a time of changes and movement, which Chinese medicine calls “Wind”. The sudden give and take of the weather – i.e. one day it’s hot, and the next day it’s cold, that’s “Wind”. This push and pull of rapid changes is dangerous to health and stressful on the body. It must constantly adapt to change such as opening the pores to allow sweating to closing them to protect from cold. Change is stressful on the body. It is critical to protect the Lungs and the Wei Qi in order to prevent the common fevers and illness that come in the changing seasons.
Lungs, the Organ of Grief
In the Autumn, Earth energies are contracting after the brilliant expansion of summertime. Our bodies have to make a huge transition from the bright sun and abundance of Summer, to the more circumspect spare reality of Winter. The sky is different. The stars are different. We feel a natural sadness from the loss of sunlight as the days grow shorter, the nights are cooler and longer. Our Lungs are the organ for processing grief. This grief is normal and it must be digested, lest grief become stagnant and turn into depression.
Autumn – Time to Strengthen Wei Qi and the Immune System
Wei Qi or Defensive Qi is the first line of defense against infectious disease. Wei Qi includes the body’s auric and subtle energy, radiating out from the internal organs to form an energy field that protects the body from invasion by pathogens. Weak Wei Qi can be a factor in people who are easily thrown off by weather changes, negative energies, who easily catch colds, bronchitis, and flu, or those who have allergies. To strengthen Wei Qi, we tonify the Lungs, Kidney, and Spleen.
Kidney Qi is the source of all Qi in the body, and contributes to Wei Qi. To strengthen it, find a balance of work, play, and rest. Conserve it by facing fears and consciously digesting experiences.
This article was prepared for students of my Cosmological Qigong class, Saturdays 5-6:30 pm at the Guan in Santa Fe. www.magadaoinstitute.com