Fall is my favorite season by far, but it can wreak havoc with our immune system. Fall is a the time of year when the yang energy and warmth of the sun lessens and allows the yin energy to slowly take control. Autumn is when we should begin to slow down, prepare for winter, strengthen our digestive and respiratory systems and definitely boost our immune system.
In traditional Chinese medicine, autumn is associated with the organ systems of the large intestine and lungs. The lungs control respiration and elimination, receiving energy in the form of our breath and acting as the first line of defense against external pathogens. Weak lung qi can make us more susceptible to colds, asthma and allergies. The lungs also regulate the waterways throughout the body and bring water to where it is needed. If your lung qi is weak, you may develop dry skin in the fall. The large intestine is the partner in crime to the lungs, with regards to traditional Chinese medicine. Where the lungs are yin in nature, the large intestine is yang in nature. The large intestine has the duty of helping us absorb nutrients and eliminate unnecessary waste. Looking at this pair from an emotional level, we can see that they help us regulate what we take in and release from day to day and both can be greatly affected by grief.
Here are some quick tips to help you prepare for fall and protect the lung and large intestine qi from becoming depleted:
1. Cover up! Keep a sweater, scarf or sweatshirt with you at all times. The days may still be warm, but that crispness that so many love about autumn will be noticeable in the evenings. Keeping your neck covered is extra important. Traditional Chinese medicine views the back of the neck as one of the most likely places for a cold invasion to take root. Think about how you normally feel when you catch a cold. For most of us, we notice an achy sensation in our necks and that is one of the first signs of a cold invasion.
2. Warm up your food. Ease up on the salads and transition over to roasted vegetables and / or soups. Dive into those “only available in the fall” veggies like butternut squash, brussels sprouts, broccoli, sweet potatoes and pumpkin…….yummy!! These kinds of foods are warming to the body, easier to digest and they will help with your preparation for winter.
3. Stay hydrated. In traditional Chinese medicine, fall correlates with dryness. So drink lots of room temperature herbal teas and water with lemon to compensate for the loss of humidity that comes with the season.
4. See your acupuncturist. Since our qi tends to be weakest during the winter, prepare during the fall and have some immune-boosting preventative acupuncture treatments. Boosting your Wei qi will help to keep you healthy throughout the long winter ahead.