Fall is here, and though it might not seem like it with all the scorching hot weather recently, the cooler weather has crept in and the leaves are slowly changing their hues and drifting off their branches. September 23rd marks the Fall Equinox of 2015 when the daylight and darkness are exactly equal in length. Autumn once again announces a time of change and transformation through fewer daylight hours and cooler weather to come. As we begin to move more yin-ward with the increasing dark minutes of the day we begin organizing our lives for the winter season ahead and becoming more introspective. Try finishing up any projects you started in spring or summer and enjoy the results of all your hard work and beginning new projects that focus more on the internal.
The transition from Summer to Fall is a time when the Qi is unstable. The lung is considered to be a "delicate organ" indicating its vulnerability and is especially susceptible to wind, cold and seasonal pathogens. During the change in temperature, be sure to dress warmer for the weather. Because the nose is the opening to the lungs, you can prevent illness by keeping your nose and sinuses clean and clear. If you suffer from a runny nose or sinus infections, acupuncture and Chinese herbs are effective for alleviating that problem.
Another effective way to ease into the transitions of the season is through diet. What you eat greatly affects the health of your lungs. Luckily there is an abundance of fresh food available to choose from. Strolling through the farmer’s market is a testament to how nature provides for us exactly what we need each season. Pick up pungent and mildly spicy foods like cabbage, turnips, radish, green beans, mustard greens, onions, garlic, and pumpkin. These can help to stimulate the lungs, break up excess mucus and protect the respiratory system. Culinary spices such as ginger, wasabi, mustard and white pepper are also considered pungent. To moisten your lungs try eating more pears, persimmons, walnuts, carrots, yam, peppermint and lemon. Try to avoid eating too much cold and raw foods which create dampness or phlegm.
The other organ that is associated with fall and the metal element are the large intestines. Make sure to nourish this organ by eating a variety of fermented foods like cheese and yogurt, fermented veggies like kimchi, raw sauerkraut, miso and pickles, or drink kombucha and kefir. By eating these foods you are contributing to the number of good bacteria in your intestines and helping to protect yourself from disease.
Photos I took in NYC! What a beautiful city in the fall!
My favorite roses and my prized succulent!
Marti Lee Kennedy L.Ac., O.M.D.
Marti Lee Kennedy, director of The Ashby Center of Complementary Medicine in Berkeley, CA, is a pioneer in the practice of Chinese Medicine in the United States.