Autumn is here; one of the most attractive aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is living harmoniously with the seasons. Ancient Chinese physicians observed the natural cycles of the seasons and recorded the best everyday practices for staying healthy and harmonizing our own energy with that of our environment. Since the vigorous summer is over, we must turn our energy inwards to prepare for the harsh winter. Autumn is associated with the metal element which correlates with the lung system. This dominates our body fluids associated with the skin and respiration. Dryness is characteristic of this season so our bodies need extra fluids to counteract the dry environment in order to be in harmony.
Autumn corresponds to the lungs, skin and large intestine. The lungs and large intestine are in charge of respiration and the digestive system. Excessive dryness can easily injure the lung functions; common symptoms associated with imbalances of the lung and large intestine are respiratory problems, such as asthma, shortness of breath, frequent colds, and sinus infections, as well as constipation and skin problems. Also, dryness can cause coughing, dry nose, sore throat, dry skin, dry hair and scalp, dry mouth and cracked lips, and hard and dry stools. Adding more nourishing yin foods to your diet can promote body fluid, soothe the lungs and protect you from dryness.
The Chinese widely believe that we are what we eat, and most dietary guidelines follow nature. According to TCM philosophy, a good lifestyle means we imbibe seasonal foods that are similar in nature and the external environment, we remain in harmony with the environment, adapt better to changes in the season and stay healthy. Foods are important to ensure that the body adjusts to the changing seasons. We need to eat to promote the production of body fluids and their lubricating effects throughout the body. Beneficial foods for this are lily bulb, white fungus, nuts or seeds, pear, lotus root, pumpkin and honey. It is a Chinese tradition to eat porridge for breakfast and soup for dinner.
Protecting lung energy (qi) is another important task. The acupuncture point Lu7 is considered the most powerful point of the lung meridian points. It is a popular point to use for stopping a persistent cough, relieving a sore throat, allergies and nose problems. This acupuncture point is located above the wrist on the inside of the arm. To find this point, interlock your thumb and index finger of one hand with those of the other; the point lies on the edge of the index finger, in a depression between the sinew and the bone. Stimulate this point on both hands with the tip of your index finger for approximately 10 seconds and repeatedly until your symptoms subside.