Autumn reminds us that flexibility and adaptability are crucial for staying healthy and balanced during the winter months ahead. During this time you will want to prepare for the challenges of winter by completing unfinished projects, clearing away clutter and debris, setting extra food and fuel aside, and making sure that you are physically and emotionally prepared for the cold, dark months to come.
The Metal Element
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, autumn is the season of the Metal element. Metal reflects our core issues, the most refined part of ourselves; an analogy is that of ore found deep within a mountain. Our core issues are those dealing with existential reality, with questions such as, “Who am I?” “What is my lifework?” “What remains constant in a forever changing world?” People who have an affinity to the Metal element are drawn to examine these core issues, essential structures, and the guiding principles of life. Even if we do not personally have a particular affinity to Metal, during autumn, the season of Metal, we are all called to deal with these core issues.
The energy connected with Metal is drawn to beauty, pleased with symmetry, and inspired by purity. Because we are taken with the purity and beauty all around us, we are more highly attuned and sensitive to our surroundings. We are more concerned with deeper issues, and small talk becomes annoying. The majestic, snow-capped mountain is the image that best captures the power of Metal; it is broad-based and firmly grounded in the earth, but reaches with power and authority toward the heavens.
As with all the elements, each comes with its own set of affinities, which give us information on how best to support ourselves during this season.
The emotion connected with Metal is grief or sadness. In autumn we are saying farewell to the abundance of summer and preparing for the reflective time that is to come. Metal connects us with the ability to let go of the past and create the space for the new.
The direction connected with Metal is the West, reflecting the setting sun. The sound associated with Metal is weeping; the color is white. When a person appears whitish around the mouth or eyes, it usually reflects an imbalance in this element. The flavor of Metal is spicy or pungent, and the climate is dry; the sense organ and sense that reflects Metal is the nose and smell. See the chart below.
The organs connected with the Metal element are the Lungs and the Large Intestine, which reflect the spiritual nature of the season, the letting go and receiving. It is common for people to be more vulnerable to colds, bronchial infection and allergies in the cooler days of autumn. The pollens and mold in the air, as well as the cold winds of autumn, stress our immune reserves, making it a good time to support the immune system with some herbs and supplements. Both organs have large surface area and so we can absorb life sustaining energy through oxygen or nutrients and eliminate waste products through exhalation and bowel movements. We know that about 70% of our immune system is in our gut and if working well, we can avoid getting sick, especially in our upper respiratory or Lung area.
The Lungs are the organs of respiration, responsible for supplying oxygenated blood to every organ of the body and eliminating the waste matter from the cells through our expiration. The word used for breathing in is “inspiration,” which is the main function of the Lung, both physically and spiritually. To be properly “inspired,” we must create space by getting the old stale air out, along with old, preconceived notions of reality.
In emotional and spiritual terms, the Lungs balance the ability to yield and demand, give and take, hold on and let go. When the Lung (Metal) energy is out of balance, order and discipline are rigidly maintained, the emotions are kept under tight control, rules and routines become inflexible, and the body begins to stiffen up. Physically we are more prone to bronchial infections and sinusitis. Our allergies are amplified and issues like asthma and heaviness of the chest can appear.
The Large Intestine
At first glance, the Lungs and the Large Intestine seem to have little in common with each other, as one is involved with respiration and the other with digestion. But Traditional Chinese Medicine views things energetically rather then purely physically. The bowel is the organ of elimination and is responsible for helping the body eliminate waste. Only when the body is cleansed of toxic matter can it receive the more refined energy brought in by its partner, the Lung.
Within the system of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Large Intestine is responsible for making distinctions between harmless and harmful elements, and it discriminates between the nutrients the body needs and those it must eliminate. Irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, flatulence, and abdominal pain, all reflect problems with the function of the Large Intestine.
Things to do to keep lungs and intestine healthy during fall
Let go of negativity
Reorganize, clean and donate
Healthy Foods for Fall
Garlic Sweet Potato Ginger Onion
Cabbage Pears Walnuts Black Pepper
Radish Rice Chili Cinnamon
Cardamom Leeks Miso Navy Beans
Soy Beans Almonds Asparagus Brocoli
Cucumber Celery Mustard Greens Apricot
Banana Egg Sour dough bread Sauerkraut
Olives Pickles Vinegar Cheese
Yoghurt Lemons Limes Grapefruit
Apples Plums Grapes