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How to maintain good health from summer to autumn

Posted by paula on September 15, 2017

Autumn is the seaon where the hot summer days become shorter, the leaves begin to change colour before they fall off trees to prepare for winter. There is a cold in the air that signals us to start putting away our summer clothes and get out our warmer clothes for the coming colder weather. It is the time of year that we go from our relaxed carefree attitides of summer to the more serious introspected energies of autumn.

Chinese medicine associates autumn with the lung organ and its related energy system. The lung opens to the nose and controls the skin, and is seen to be delicate as it is easily affected by changes in the external environment, especially dryness. As the temperature drops and winds become dry you may experience early symptoms of colds or flu such as a stiff neck, body aches, chills, fever, sore throat, headache, cough and runny nose. You may also notice skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis are aggravated; and asthmatic problems or allergies flare. Acupuncture and herbal medicine can assist in the treatment of such conditions. See a registered practitioner for more information.

Eastern medical philosophy teaches the importance of disease prevention as well as treating active or current health complaints. Looking after ourselves through autumn ensures we’re equipped with the best defences possible against colds, flus and other imbalances which tend to prevail as we head into winter.

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Grief the emotion of the lung

In Chinese medicine every organ has an emtion associated with it,  and grief and saddness are the emotions of the lungs. The lungs are associated with clear thinking and communication, openess to new ideas and the ability to relax,let go and be happy. When the lungs are out of balanv=ce or you are dealing with excessive grief, you will have difficulty dealingwith loss and change and experience a prolonged sense of sadness that does not dissipate. If the lung energy is weak you will experience an overwhelming constant state of grief that does not ease. This defiency if prolonged can lead to depression and other issues.

In contrast grief that is expressed fully and resolved is strengthening both physically and psychologically.

The Lung and its partner - The Large Intestine

Every organ in TCM has a partner the lung is yin and the large intestine is yang they work together to keep the body in balance. The lung is responsible for taking in the new. This manifests physically as breathing in clean fresh autumn air filling us with oxygen we need to think clearly and for our bodies to function optimally. The large intestine is responsible for letting go of the waste. Emotionally this is why autumn is a good time to look at things we might be holding onto and work through them so we can let go of them for good. Often people with elimination problems like chronic constipation can have difficulty letting go. Because the lungs are associated with grief and saddness the can be damged by these emotions if they are in excess. Conversly a prolonged lung deficiency can lead to feelings of saddness.

Here are some things you can do to keep the lungs and large intestine in tip top shape this autumn

Breathe deeply

one of the best ways to strengthen the lungs is to breathe deeply.When we breathe deeply with intention we are flooding our brains and cells with the much needed oxygen that is vital to all our body's process like our memory, energy, immune system etc

Let go of negativity in your life

Of course letting go of negaive energy is a good idea but it is particularly important in autumn when lung energy is at its peak.If we become aware of negative things we can make small changes to avoid them as much as possible. Negativity can be a very destructive force both physically and psychologicallyso working towards keeping as much of it as possible out of our lives is a good goal.

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Walk outside

One of the best things we can do to stengthen the lungs is to walk outside in the cool crisp air taking in all the beautiful autumn colours. There is nothing more healing to us that connecting with nature and autumn is one of the most beautiful times of the year to do it.

Reorganise & Clean

Autumn is the perfect time to take stockof things in your life, organise and let go of the old, to make room for the new. This is a good practice in autumn in the physical world as well as the emotional one. Clear out your wardrobes and get rid of all thise old clothes you dont wear anymore. Clean up your computer deleting anything you no longer need. All of these activities can be incredibly liberating and in harmony with the season of autumn and strengthening to the lungs function of letting go.

Wear a scarf

Because autumn is also associated with wind a simple thing like wearing a scarf can ward off cold, which is said to enter easily at the neck. It's an easy way to stay warm and very stylish!

Beneficial foods in Autumn

Because the weather begins to cool off in autum its a good idea to eat less coolng foods like salads and raw foods at this time of year. Longer cooking times and heartier ingredients are used at this time of the year to nourish the body and support the immune system throughout the winter months. Gradually incorporate delicious root vegetables such as beetroot, turnip, sweet potato and pumpkin into your diet. Cook foods for longer, at lower heat with less water to enhance the nourishing quality of meals. Autumn is the season of dryness so it is as important as ever to keep well hydrated, with plenty of room temperature water. Refresh mid-morning and afternoon with a cup of rosehip, peppermint or lemon tea. Pears, apples, millet, spinach and barley are foods considered in Chinese medicine to moisten and cool the Lung system. Eat more of these if you experience thirst, dry lips and skin, an itchy throat or dry cough. Consult with a Chinese medicine practitioner if symptoms persist.

The best way to stay healthy according to chinese medicine, is learning about the nature of each season and living in harmony with the spirit of it.If we live in harmony with the world around us we see that nature is slowing down, contracting and preparing to rest so its good for us to do the same. Sleeping a little longer, eating warming, nourishing foods and moving inwards, paying attention to our internal lives. Focusing our energy inward also makes way for reflection on a personal level. This is the time to plan for what you would like to achieve through winter and the remainder of the year. The more active, sometimes scattered patterns of summer are soon to be replaced by the relative order and organisation of winter. Take the opportunity to use autumn’s abundant yet inwardly focused energy for some quiet reflection. Make time for centering activities such as acupuncture, yoga, meditation, practicing slow, relaxed breathing or taking walks in the glorious autumn sunshine.

Wishing you all good autumn health & happiness

Paula x

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