Updated: Oct 7, 2021
Mother Nature is spectacularly clever at creating beautiful patterns and applies her magic to the cycles of life. In ancient times the seasons governed our lives; we sowed seeds, harvested, stored and ate foods according to the season. This cycle has long been understood in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which recognises the impact that not only each season has on our health but also the effect of transitioning from one season to the next.
According to TCM, seven days before and after each equinox the cycle returns to the element of Earth. This element is linked to the Spleen and Stomach and is also associated with late summer; the time to enjoy the bounty provided by our beautiful planet.
The winds of change which herald that our seasonal voyage is moving on into Autumn are already beginning to make an appearance. Unlike us, our ancestors would have used the long days of summer to plant crops not only to enjoy in summer, but to keep them fed over winter. So they looked forward to taking it a little easy in winter. In our modern lives we continue working throughout the year but we still start to think of snuggling up in our homes and resting. This transition from Summer to Autumn can be seamless for most of us but there are a few people, myself included, who find the change a more complex affair. On the one hand I love the colours of Autumn but the thought of the cold along with long, dark nights fills me with sadness. I begin to miss the outdoor socialising, time spent in the garden and the long days. Here in London it is still light at 10pm at the height of summer!
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) focuses on using the guide provided by Nature herself to help those of us who find this change in seasons harder to manage. Nature provides us with visual clues as to how to move with the changes she is making; the colours change from vibrant and bright to deep reds, orange, yellows and gold. The fruits and vegetables harvested in Autumn also take on these colours (think pumpkin, butternut squash, squash, carrots). This produce is what we should focus on eating to support our bodies by obtaining the relevant nutrients needed to help us get ready for the colder months ahead. TCM relates Autumn to the element of Metal. The organs associated with this element are the Lungs and Large Intestines. These organs are linked to the emotions of sadness and grief so it is important to process these emotions and then let go. It is also important to protect the lungs from the colder winds which begin to blow at this time of year and damp weather.
With the cold of winter fast approaching, we start to feel cold when the temperature falls by just a few degrees; Nature’s way of warning us to start wrapping up. It is very important to keep warm and prevent the cold or wind from entering our body. Ensure you wear a scarf to keep the back of your neck warm as this area can be vulnerable to the cold. The cold can also enter via our feet so try to wear socks and avoid flip-flops, even indoors! It is also important to eat warm foods and drinks only as our throats can be prone to becoming sore at this time of the year. Try to avoid what in TCM is referred to as Damp forming foods such as bananas, beer, sugar and dairy. These foods are hard for our digestive system to process, especially when our bodies are also trying to keep warm.
If you struggle to cope with the change in season, contact your acupuncturist who can help by focusing on treating the Lungs to help strengthen them so that you feel physically and emotionally ready to cope with cold weather.