The Autumn Equinox arrives on September 23rd which is a signal that summer is over and we will begin our descent into the cooler, introverted last few months of the year. Fall is the time to harvest what we sowed in the summer, and to prepare for the winter. It is a time to slow down and retreat indoors as the weather becomes chilly, nipping at our noses. The summer harvest also starts to slow down as we eat the last of the juicy berries, light salads, and buttery corn; which in turn, are replaced with nourishing squashes, soups, and stews. The bright, fresh greenery of the trees dry up and change color from green, to yellow, to orange, and finally to brown before falling to the ground, to be crunched by our thicker, warm boots.
The organs most affected in the Fall are the Lungs and their paired organ the Large Intestine. This makes a lot of sense when you think about the increase in seasonal allergies and upper respiratory illnesses that occur during this time. The cool, autumnal air dries out these organ systems whose mucus membranes usually catch pathogens for our immune systems to clear out. One may also experience dry mouth, dry nose, dry cough, or dry stools in the fall.
The emotions associated with the Lungs are sadness and grief, and therefore Fall can be a time where these feelings come up more frequently. Oftentimes my patients who are grieving will wake up in the Lung hours of the night, between 3am and 5am. The Large Intestine is one of the main organs for letting go both physically and emotionally. Fall can be a great time to take stock and let go of all that is no longer serving you in your life.
Some foods to nourish your body during this drying time are juicy, seasonal fruits like apples, persimmons and pears. Sweet things help to build up fluids in the body, and therefore honey is a very nourishing, moistening food. How does a warm poached pear in honey and cinnamon sound? If you do not eat animal products, brown sugar can be substituted. I eat this often in the fall and winter to bring more fluids to the Lungs and Large Intestine. Why are pears good for the Lungs? First, both pears and lungs are shaped like bells. And what does a bell do? It rings, like the sound of a voice. A bell will not have a clear sound when it is dry or when there is gum on the inside. So this is why pears are wonderful to eat in either condition, when the Lungs are too dry or when they have too much congestion.
If you are feeling the beginning of a cold, try having some chopped green onions in broth with grated ginger. If you eat meat, try a bit of chicken in there; and if you do not eat meat, throw in a bunch of root veggies. This combination will help to open up the pores with a bit of sweat to dispel any pathogens trapped in the superficial layers of the body.
As acupuncturists, we can access the qi of these organs systems with our needles to help move emotions through the body and improve sleep. We can also help to stimulate the immune system to protect against illnesses. And, while we cannot treat you while you have active covid, cold or flu symptoms, we can help get your body to 100% again once you are on the mend from these illnesses. Acupuncture can also help redistribute fluids in the body so that the delicate Lung and Large Intestine tissues can once again become moist and protective. Make acupuncture part of your weekly routine and keep healthy through the fall!