Autumn,  Chinese Medicine,  Yangsheng

Autumn Wellness

Autumn is a time of gathering and harvesting. Animals run around collecting food, and plants collect and condense nutrients into seeds. Yang qi was rising and flourishing in spring and summer–vaporizing the yin water in the environment to create moisture, and now it retreats inward into “storage mode,” resulting in cooler and dryer conditions. Yang begins to give way to yin. Autumn corresponds to the Metal phase (jin 金) and the lungs.

As a result, we want to focus on diet and lifestyle habits that promote moistening, support the lungs, and nourish yin. Sour tasting foods astringe and nourish the lungs, while pungent tasting foods disperse and purge. It’s best to eat less spicy, cold, or raw foods and rather eat more sour foods as well as moistening foods including soups and stews. Although the lungs have an affinity to pungent flavors, it is best to look at the greater context and note that lungs are abundant with qi and metal can have an overbearing action on wood. Wood is associated with liver and sour tasting foods, therefore rather than eating too many pungent foods in autumn it is best to eat more sour tasting foods which will nourish and protect the liver qi. Matching the color associated with the Metal phase, we can eat more white-colored foods, many of which are excellent for balancing the dryness of autumn.

In the second chapter of the Huangdi Neijing, titled “The Law of Regulating Spirit in the Four Seasons” 《黄帝内经四气调神大论》it says:

“Go to bed early and get up with the chickens [at dawn]. This will cause all mental faculties to become calm and peaceful, and moderate the downward blow of autumn. Reel in your mental energy to be in harmony with the condensing quality of autumn qi. Do not disperse your energies, and the lung qi will be clear. This is the way of nourishing life in accordance with the nourishing and constricting qi of the autumnal harvest season. Going against these principles will harm the lung network, eventually causing diarrhea in winter, when things should really be in a state of storage rather than leakage. The qi of Autumn is dry, and so it is advisable to consume some moistening sesame to counteract the dryness. Avoid cold drinks, and do not wear damp and cold clothing close to your skin.” 1

It’s best to start going to bed earlier in the Autumn and make sure we are getting enough sleep. Like spring, autumn is a season of change therefore a time when diseases are prone to surface. It is best not to drain one’s energy and take special care to strengthen the immune system. We should be sure to also get adequate exercise, but not to overdo it. It’s best to cultivate a calm and peaceful attitude in Autumn, letting go of any worries, seeking a state of quiet harmony, and matching the increasingly calm atmosphere of nature.

Correspondences

Yin (Zang) Organ: Lungs
Yang (Fu) Organ: Large Intestine
Direction: West
Color: White
Flavor: Pungent (Acrid)
Climate: Dryness
Orientation: Inward
Sense Organ: Nose
Tissue: Skin
Positive Emotion: Righteousness (yi 义)
Negative Emotion: Grief (ku 苦)

Drunk in Autumn Woods by Shi Tao

Recommended Foods:

VegetablesFruit
Chinese yam (shan yao 山药)
Lotus root
Cauliflower
Snow Fungus (Yin’er 银耳)
Radish
Onion
Parsnip
Fennel
Leek
Shiitake mushrooms
Bean sprouts
Celery
Chinese cabbage
Water chestnut
Brussel sprout
Sweet potato
Pumpkin
Lily flower

Pear
Apple
Grapefruit
Fig
Peach
Guava
Pineapple
Hawthorn
Grapes
Tangerine
Persimmon
ProteinCarbohydrates
Silken tofu
Duck
Duck egg
Fish
Crab
Sesame
Chicken
Black bean
Glutinous rice
Red rice
Oat
OtherEat Less
Honey
Chestnuts
Tahini
Rice wine
Extra virgin olive oil
Dry baked goods
Chips
Crackers
Fried and roasted foods
Spicy food
Cold or raw foods
1. Fruehauf, H., Dharmananda, S., 2010: Promoting Health During the Four Seasons, http://www.itmonline.org/articles/four_seasons/four_seasons.html