Autumn is Upon Us
It’s almost shocking that October is here, isn’t it? It almost feels like time should have stopped last March, and we get a do over once COVID has run its course. But now we have to add wildfire smoke to the mix, and the regular flu season is also about to begin. So no heads in sand, it’s time to stay vigilant, and ramp up our efforts of self care. Chinese Medicine offers us much wisdom and guidance on how to do this for the Fall.
Each season in Chinese Medicine is associated with a yin/yang organ pair, and Autumn is the Lung and Large Intestine pair. Each season also has an associated “Qi”, or environmental factor. Autumn’s qi is Dry, and this dryness (or lack of dryness) can be very detrimental to our lungs.
Just the dryness of Autumn is reason enough to give our lungs extra attention.
Here are some important tools to support our lungs, the first line of defence for our immune system.
1. Acupuncture and Herbs
“A superior doctor prevents sickness; A mediocre doctor attends to impending sickness; An inferior doctor treats sickness.”
Chinese Medicine has many tools for preventing illness. Although it isn’t always possible to be the superior doctor, it is ingrained in the medicine to strive for it. There has been much research on acupuncture and how it works, and lots has been found to explain its ability to strengthen the immune system. Acupuncture has been shown to work on the nerve-endocrine-immune system, promoting the release anti-inflammatory and analgesic substances (read the study here). It has also been studied to have good effects on depressed immunity due to emotional disturbances, such as high-stress and anxiety (read the summary here)
Getting an acupuncture treatment once a month, along with gua sha and cupping, is a good way to strengthen our lungs. It can build the immune system’s ability to respond to the external pathogens, such as smoke and viruses. Also, having herbs on hand that you can take immediately, at the first tickle of a cold or flu is a good idea. Treating at the very beginning of the illness is a great way to keep it from progressing, and becoming serious.
Book an appointment here.
2. Food Medicine to Balance Dryness
The most famous home remedy in Chinese Medicine for dry lungs are pears. The juiciness of a ripe pear, even better an Asian pear, can moisten lungs for a dry cough, sore throat, and dry skin. It also can moisten the Large Intestine (remember it’s the yin/yang pair of the Lungs) for dry constipation. You can eat them alone, or with some lemon to astringe more fluids with the sour flavor. You can also make a congee for breakfast. This will make a big batch you can use for a few days.
Pear Congee Recipe
- 1 C of glutinous rice
- 6-7 C of water
- 2-3 diced Asian Pears
- 4 slices of ginger, peeled
Put all the ingredients together and simmer on the stove until the rice has broken apart and makes thin gruel, 2-3 hours. You can also use a slow cooker on low overnight, or a pressure cooker on high for 30 minutes and natural release.
Top with sesame seeds, walnuts, and/or honey if you’d like.
A great point on the Lung Channel that you can acupressure is Lung 5. In the crook of your elbow, on the thumb side of the biceps tendon, you can hunt for an especially tender spot. When you find it, use firm pressure to massage the point. While you do it, let the rest of your body relax, and breath deeply. Massage in circles, press down for 5 seconds. Release, and repeat 2 more times.
Lung 5 is a great point to regulate lung function, and is great for harmonizing with the beginning of autumn. It also treats cough, wheezing, the common cold and allergies.
4. Begin to Slow Down
The intense heat waves we are going through here in the Bay Area wouldn’t reveal it, but Autumn marks the decline of Yang heat energy , and beginning of the growth of Yin. One cool metaphor for the intense heat that occurs in Autumn, is think if the Yang summer energy as a tube of toothpaste. As you are squeezing it out, you get a big glob that squishes out the back, bursting the tube. So even though we are feeling that Yang push out the back, it is making its way down to hibernate into the earth, and hide away for winter.
It’s time for us to do the same. We need to start going to bed a little earlier, and transition into less activity. It’s a lovely time to incorporate some Qigong to strengthen our lungs and build immunity, and perhaps start or deepen our meditation practice.
I really like this meditation instruction by Alan Watts. I like anything by Alan Watts actually, just listening to him before bed is a lovely way to have your mind blown a bit.
Here is some easy Qigong for your lungs. Remember you do not want to strain at all while doing Qigong. You want your breath to be completely silent, as this is how we build/strengthen qi energy. If you hear your breath, you are dispersing/moving your energy, and energy is lost.
Stay safe out there.