The Changing Seasons – Autumn


For those of us in the Northern hemisphere, the season of autumn is upon us.

Autumn precedes the deep and quiet winter; it’s a time of preparation, of storing up what will nourish us through the next season, and of leaving behind what does not feed us.

According to Chinese medicine/5-element philosophy, autumn is the time of metal.

The organs associated with the metal element are the lungs and the large intestine, and they tend to be affected by dryness this time of the year.

Emotionally, the lungs are about grief, and the large intestine is (unsurprisingly!) about letting go.

What does this mean for us, in terms of maintenance, prevention, and making the most of the season in regards to physical and emotional health?

We can start by taking special care of our lungs (which include our sinuses) and our lower gut.

We want to keep our sinus passages moist and clear. One way to do this is with a combination of a sterile saline spray and with a neti pot.

The lungs are the first to be affected by colds and flu; taking some basic immune system-building herbs can help ward off any nasty bugs and keep the lungs strong. I like cat’s claw and goldenseal for a bit of prevention. If I feel something actually settling in my lungs, I use oil of oregano, which has powerful anti-pathogenic properties, so can handle both bacteria and viruses.

We also want to, ahem, keep our gut moving. While all of our bodies are unique, eating mainly unprocessed, whole food and getting a bit of daily exercise is always a good bet to encourage gut motility. And, while adequate hydration is always important, making especially certain we are drinking enough water is especially key in this season of dryness.

If you’re noticing an out-of-the-ordinary slowdown, how about some acupressure?

My favorite point for slow digestion is Stomach 25. It’s located about 2 inches to the right and to the left of your navel, both sides. It’s best to hold both the right and left sides at the same time, with a medium amount of pressure, for approximately 60 seconds at a time.

Also, Large Intestine 4: This is known the world over as the “headache” point, but actually has many applications, and constipation is one of them. It’s found on the top of the hand, in the web between the thumb and the index finger, nearer the index finger side.

You will know for certain when you’ve found this point, because it’ll be tender. Keep poking around until you “feel” it. (One caveat: do not use LI4 if you are pregnant.)

My favorite part of self-care is taking advantage of elemental, emotional themes through the seasons. As I mentioned above, autumn is the time to let go of old experiences that don’t support us, particularly grief. While there are many ways to do this, affirmations can be quite useful. Here are some suggestions:

I can integrate my learnings, while leaving prior experiences in the past.

I can leave behind what drains me, and take forward what nourishes me.

Autumn is for taking the opportunity to prepare for winter, a season in which we want to feel as if we’ve stocked up on everything that will sustain and comfort us through the cold months. At the same time, we can focus on leaving behind that which impoverishes us, like bad memories, old hurts, and crappy patterns of behavior.

We wouldn’t stock our cellars with rotted food, would we? Let’s toss out what is old and spoiled, and make room for what nurtures us and keeps us strong and healthy.

Enjoy your fall!

(This post does not constitute medical advice, y’all. These are suggestions to support maintenance and prevention. Please see your medical provider for any symptom concerns you may have. )