September 13, 2011 | Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Healthy Living | 3 Comments
Fall is a time of harvesting, changing leaves, pumpkins, great squash and root dishes, dressing in layers, and in knit scarves (or cat-eared hats if you’re a New York hipster!) No, I am not including a Fall recipe this post around; but do look out for my post of Vegan Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins soon! (And, may I add, they’re addictive.)
Fall is not only a time of physical change, but one that demands inward change, as well. I say, demands, because, like it or not, things that have, and have not, been working for us usually become more noticeable at this time. That is because Fall is a harvesting of our own energies. In my posts, I often mention how effective acupuncture is for physical conditions, but also how so much of Chinese Medicine is derived from spiritual aspects. Every acupuncture point has a spiritual relationship with the body, and each of the 12 organs in Chinese Medicine correspond to a certain element, season, smell, tissue, taste, direction, color, emotion, and sound, among other things.
As the book, Traditional Acupuncture: The Law of the Five Elements, by Dianne M. Connelly, Ph.D., explains of Autumn, “Consolidation and strengths as well as fragmentation and weaknesses become clear… A person who detests autumn may be having difficulties in harvesting her own energy. This may show as bowel problems like diarrhea, which is an inability to collect the waste for disposal; digestion difficulties like vomiting after eating because the function of gathering nourishment, or harvesting goodness from food, is out of order.”
The element associated with Autumn is Metal. The organs of Metal are the Lungs and Large Intestines.
The Lungs are physically responsible for breathing; in Chinese Medicine, it is the Official who receives the pure Chi from the heavens. What does that mean? It means that the Lungs are the receiver of energy, of how we take in what’s going on outside into ourselves – breathing emotionally and physically. How do we process what we receive? It is also heavily associated with skin in TCM
(Traditional Chinese Medicine), so body skin conditions, whether it be full of lustre and glowing, or ashy and rashy, come into play with the Lungs.
The Large Intestines take care of the elimination of waste. In Chinese Medicine, it is lovingly called “The Drainer of the Dregs”. In other words, it’s time to take out the trash! Figuratively, and energetically. Everything that doesn’t work for you, that’s been collecting spiritual cobwebs in your perceptions, patterns, and body, will be featherdusted like nobody’s business with a healthy Large Intestine.
And it is ok if emotions get stirred up while dealing with the Lung and Large Intestine processing and dredging. It makes sense since the emotion corresponding to Metal is grief. Grief is a natural and healthy process, but when someone is overwhelmed with it, or, on the other hand, unable to express it, he/she may have a Metal imbalance.
Here are ways you can make your Metal self giddy as a schoolgirl, or rebalance it if she’s as goth as Avril Lavigne with even more black eyeliner:
- Become aware of the themes and tapes that play in your psyche. Are they helpful? True? If neither, time to take out the trash! Replace outdated tapes with new ones.
- Embrace the capacity to cough. As Connelly puts it, “Coughing is associated with mucus being expelled from air passages and also the release of air from the lungs. When there is irritation of the respiratory system, the body expresses this by coughing. On the figurative level, the cough is a rejection of something unwanted, and this capacity to expel something unwanted is associated with Metal and its association with the elimination of waste or unwanted things.” So reject away! Just make sure you have some great ginger tea (salabat) with unfiltered honey to soothe the throat if need be.
- Use pungent foods to protect and purify during Fall. Pungent is, you guessed it, the flavor of Metal. Pungent foods help disperse the stuck, mucus-laden energy of the Lungs and colon. So, hot pepper and chili lovers, unite! Include white pungents as well (since white is the color of the Metal element), such as: onion, garlic, turnip, ginger, horseradish, cabbage, radish, daikon, and white peppercorn. Mucilaginous foods renew the mucous membrane of the Lungs and colon. Best sources?: seaweeds, kombu, marshmallow root, flaxseed, and fenugreek.
- Since the climate associated with Metal is dryness, it is good to counter dry weather and treat conditions of dryness in the body with moistening foods: soybean products, including tofu, tempeh, and soy milk; spinach, barley, millet, pear, apple, persimmon , loquat, seaweeds, black and white fungus, almond, pine nut, peanut, sesame seed, honey (cooked), barley malt, rice syrup, milk and dairy products, eggs, clam, carb, oyster, mussel, herring, and pork.
Look out for lots of great produce showing up at your local farmers’ markets!
I am a sucker for those baby pumpkins!
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