Late Summer, early Autumn is a natural time of contraction. Evenings become shorter, the weather cools, trees shed their leaves and small animals gather the autumn bounty in preparation for the months of hibernation ahead. Although our modern lifestyles mean we have become separated from the natural cycles of nature, instinctively we feel the change from the expansive energetic nature of summer to the more contractive attributes of autumn. We start to spend more time indoors, cozy up and eat ‘warmer’ foods.
From a Chinese medicine perspective eating foods that are grown locally and correspond with the seasons is still the most natural and healthiest way to intake food. Chinese medicine focuses on the energetic properties of food and categorizes them by the actions they have on our body. When we help a system physically, we also help it energetically. By eating the right type of foods for the season we are helping to keep the natural dynamic flow of Qi (energy) in balance.
In Chinese medicine autumn is associated with the lungs and large intestine.The lungs control the circulation of the Wei-Qi (pronounced Wee Chee), which is the defensive energy which circulates on the body surface between the skin and muscles. This is the protective layer of energy which keeps us warm and protects us from outside influences. In Chinese medicine, any weakness in the lungs can lead to a weakness in the Wei-Qi, which means we can become more susceptible to catching colds and flu.
Foods like garlic, onions, ginger, horseradish, and mustard are all beneficial to the lungs. They are considered pungent and are recommended at this time of year because pungency generates warmth and moves blood stagnation. Eating too much cold and raw foods at this time of year can create dampness or phlegm which is produced by the spleen and stored by the lungs. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and butter can also create an excess of phlegm.
The large Intestine is responsible for making distinctions between what elements are harmful and harmless. It chooses between the nutrients the body needs and those it must eliminate. IBS, abdominal pain, constipation and bloating can all reflect problems with the function of the large Intestine. Drinking plenty of 'warm' water, detoxing and gentle fasting to help rid the body of excess toxins can be very beneficial.
Chinese herbs are also and excellent way to help strengthen lung qi and remove excess toxins from the body.
Lemons and Limes
Spices: bay leaves, black pepper, chili, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, rosemary
Dark, leafy winter greens such as kale, chard, mustard greens, etc.
Fermented foods ( yogurt and sauerkraut)
Warming soups and stew
In Oriental medicine the emphasis for health is on preventative care. It stands to reason that a healthy body will not require treatment. Acupuncture and other Chinese medicine treatments like acupressure (Chinese massage), moxibustion, cupping and herbs can all help to keep the body healthy. They can help you with detoxing, increasing circulation, re-balancing regulatory systems (hormonal, circulatory, digestive) and boosting the immune system.
A fantastic gift for yourself at a time of year when it will benefit you most.
Care Cure are Irelands leading Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) specialists. We have clinics in Dublin 4, Dun Laoghaire, Galway, Longford and Sligo. Free Consultations are provided in all our clinics.