AUTUMN – a season of transition

As we head into the autumn equinox, September 22nd, we transition into a new season.  In traditional Chinese medicine, autumn is the time of year to enjoy the fruits of our labour; gathering the harvest and preparing for the winter season to follow.  Fruit, root vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds are dried, canned, pureed, bottled and stored for us to savour over the next few months until we can begin the growing season again.  This is the time to become introspective, focusing on new projects that will cultivate our mind, body and spirit.

The fall can be challenging for many people….our nights begin to get longer and days get shorter, the wind blows with a briskness and the kids are coming home with runny noses and coughs (or your co-workers).  We often don’t take the time to adjust our body, mind and diet to the changing of the season, reducing our ability to fight the good fight, leaving us prone to a variety of illnesses.


According to the Chinese five element theory, Autumn is associated with the energy of the Lungs (yin) and its partner the Large Intestines (yang).

With every breath in, oxygen nourishes our cells, muscles, organs and tissues.  With every exhale we get rid of CO2, a waste product of our cellular respiration.  If your lung qi is weak, you are likely a shallow breather.  If your gas exchange is poor, you will be susceptible to all those bacteria and viruses lurking around.  Your immune system may not be strong enough to protect your body and you may end up with a cough, runny nose, sinus congestion, throat or ear infection.  Isn’t it interesting that lots of people suffer from respiratory/sinus issues right around this time of year?

The large intestine is responsible for getting rid of our waste, absorbing water and nutrients from our food along the way.  If the bowels are sluggish or not moving daily, our food (that should be in transit) will sit and rot.  Things can then become toxic, which may then be reabsorbed back into the body.  If the bowels don’t properly eliminate these toxins, our liver then has to deal with things and that’s when we may experience fatigue, acne, sensitivity to foods, bloating and headaches.

How can you stay healthy this autumn season?  Try at least 2 of these recommendations:

    • Let things go – mentally, emotionally and ultimately physically.   Calming the nervous system will reduce stress, relax tight muscles and allow our bowels to do their job of getting rid of the toxins.
    • Breathe deeply and meditate – bring in the good and get rid of the not so good.
    • Bundle up against the wind – use your hoodie or scarf to keep your neck protected against the cold, especially when you’re sweating.
    • Try cleansing – enjoy vegetable juices, add good fats and drink good quality water.  You may try a cleansing kit (I like this one –…but please talk to your healthcare professional to make sure it’s appropriate for you).
    • Dry brushing – this simple technique stimulates the clearing of toxins and is often very effective for some –Dry brushing according to the Cleveland Clinic
    • Eat a seasonal, whole foods diet rich in pungent additions such as garlic, onion, scallions, horseradish and ginger. (Please limit these if you have a very hot constitution).
    • See your favourite Acupuncture therapist – like ME!  We can help get your body back to balance, move your bowels, get rid of the headaches, relax your nervous system and fortify your lung qi.

It’s so important to take care of ourselves now, so that we can be strong when the winter approaches – cause ‘Winter is coming’.

(photo by Katherine Phipps)