Autumn is on the way. It begins September 23 and ends December 21. In TCM, the seasons have an affect on the body, and each season is connected to certain elements. The Five Elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. The elements can be used as a diagnostic tool to identify how the body is out of balance.
As autumn falls in, living in tune with metal elements can help our body maintain balance. The organs most affected by the changing season are lungs, nose, large intestine, and skin and hair. Fall is a season when animals start gathering and storing what they need for winter, and for us humans, we too benefit from a gather-and-storage mindset. Think about what you need to support your body as we enter into this next change of season and gather and store those ideas and items to help you be prepared for cooler temps, flu season, and colds. Think about ways you can support your body to keep your immune system strong and able to fight the onslaught of viruses surrounding us during cold seasons. Sour and moistening foods support the metal organs during autumn as humidity decreases.
We associate dehydration with summer months, and the extra sweating and hot temperatures do add burden to the body, but cool, dryer months that start with autumn also foster dryness in the body. The major symptoms of dryness are:
Dry skin, nose, and lips
Food and beverage with moistening qualities can help reduce the burden on the body and better prepare your body to defend against viruses. Those with dry symptoms should consume more moist-inducing foods and use less bitter, warming foods. But what do you do when you get conflicting symptoms?
If you’ve followed the guidelines for autumn’s metal element to balance your body and not felt the positive results you hoped, consider the uniqueness of your body in relation to the elements. Though the seasons and its elements can guide seasonal activities that support the body, your body might already have organs under stress from previous seasons. When this occurs, more know-how and attention is needed to determine how to synergistically balance the organs to achieve that true feeling of wellness.
If you overindulged too frequently this summer eating the creamy and greasy offerings at the summer gatherings, you routinely overextended yourself at work to the point you felt drained and depleted, or you obsessed and worried about a problem, your body probably gave you signs it was under burden. If you missed your body’s signals and your body didn’t get the support it needed to bring itself back to balance, then those stressed organs are going to work harder to let you know something is out of balance…yeast infection anyone?
No matter the season, giving your body moistening foods when certain organs already have too much moisture can cause an imbalance referred to as dampness, and dampness can manifest into added burden on the body when it’s not addressed. Even though autumn is known as a time to consume moistening foods, it may worsen conditions left over from summer. Knowing how to move forward when your body shows conflicting symptoms like that of being dry and damp at the same time can be a challenge, but with the right support, your body can soon get back to its true state of wellness.
Do like the chipmunks do, and start gathering. Start gathering the things that support your body and help you stay well. Pull out those scarves and protect your wind points. Create a shopping list of healthy foods to kick-start the change of season. Schedule a time to rest and reflect. These are all things you can do yourself and every day is a new opportunity to make choices that support your body. Start gathering your tools to help your body transition to autumn, and remember that True Health Acupuncture is part of your toolkit.
By Julie Taylor