Updated: Feb 16
In Chinese Medicine, this season is the time of the Lung and Large Intestine, or the Metal Element.
It is time to start moving inward. Become more Yin. Let go of these things which no longer serve us, like the leaves on trees.
Historically, people would have lived more seasonally. Lights were not available. We would have gone to bed with the dark and risen with the light.
Like the trees, we would be starting to conserve our energy. We would have our supplies ready and we would be hunkering down.
So, what can you start (or continue) doing to support yourself in this transition?
Keep that scarf on people! Every time you venture outside a scarf should be around your neck. In Chinese Medicine, the back of the neck is where pathogens enter. If the neck is covered, they cannot easily enter (unless someone coughs on you)!
Let go, let go, let go of everything. As the leaves start to fall from trees, we can start to consider what objects, rituals, habits or even people no longer serve us. We can be sad to disconnect from those things but we move on appropriately and the loss makes us lighter.
Keep yourself hydrated. Skin, lips, noses, hair can all start to become drier with the change in seasons. It is a really good idea to keep yourself nourished with lots of fluids. The fluid doesn't always mean water. It can be found in soups, hot drinks, stews.
Pungent foods for the Lungs such as garlic, turnip, ginger, radish and cabbage. These foods will all support the Lung in diffusing Qi (life force) around the body.
Foods for Autumn
Here are some recipe suggestions for you to consider [these are seasonal to the UK]:
Bircher muesli with apple & banana - this is such a fantastic high fibre breakfast, which is great for the gut. I would suggest removing the banana which in Chinese Medicine is considered damp forming. Damp and phlegm can be stored in the Lungs.
Oatmeal with pear, ginger and cardamom - wow, this recipe has all that is needed for Autumn days. Pungency, pears for the Lungs. Warming. Awesome!
If, like me, bread is life the best types to consider are sourdough, Ezekiel, pumpernickel or rye bread.
Slow cooker vegetarian hotpot - packed full of seasonal vegetables (and some pungent ones too)
Asparagus soup - asparagus and onion is pungent
Versatile vegetable soup - hydrating and full of seasonal vegetables
Parsnip, sprout and chestnut hotpot with cider and sprout top pesto - again full of seasonal and pungent foods
*there are no meats which are considered pungent. Whilst I have not included any recipes with meat, it doesn't mean you cannot have it and I urge you to choose the best quality meat you can afford.
"reducing your meat consumption, especially poor-quality, low-sustainable versions such as grain-fed, could be the most important thing you can do for the planet."
Tim Spector and Spoon-Fed
Cinnamon autumn rice pudding - not one for every day with all the dairy involved in making it. But still great for fibre and pungency!
Poached apple and pear - simple and beautiful
If I had to choose one food for the Lungs it would be a pear.
Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods:
"[pears]....specifically affects the lungs, eliminating heat and excess mucus; stops coughing associated with hot lungs; moistens the lungs, throat and dryness in general; quenches thirst resulting from heat conditions. used for diabetes, injuries to the skin, constipation, loss of voice, and gallbladder inflammation and obstruction".
The point for this month is Large Intestine Four
This point can be used to let go. For this reason, you SHOULD NOT use it in pregnancy.
An excellent point for anything to do with the face (although not ears) and for colds.
It has also been used for pain relief.
How about treating your skin?
You may have seen my recent lockdown bingo Instagram post?
Now is the time to be nourishing our skin. The dryness from central heating, the change in weather and also wearing a mask can play havoc with our skin.
In Chinese Medicine, the skin is considered to be the third Lung.
So, during this time how about giving your skin some love?
Kathryn from SkinLab Boutique is the wonder woman who normally makes my skin feel magical, but without being able to see her (lockdown 2.0 playing havoc everywhere) she has kindly sent me some recipes to try at home.
Softening Honey & Avocado Mask
2 Tbsp Honey - hydrates the skin without the risk of breakouts
2 Tbsp Avocado - loaded with Omega 3 Fatty acids & B vitamins which are incredible for your lymphatic system and restoring the skins natural lipid layer which protects your skin from moisture loss particularly in extreme hot or cold temperatures
2 Tbsp Olive oil - softens the skin and provides great anti-inflammatory properties
1 Mashed Mango - helps to brighten the skin as it is packed with vitamin C
Mix all ingredients and leave on clean skin for 15mins then wash off with a warm cloth & moisturise.
Smoothing Papaya Greek Yoghurt mask
2 Tbsp ripe mashed up papaya - high in Vitamin C & a protein dissolving enzyme, papain, this mask is the perfect fix for a dull autumn skin as it nibbles away at the dead skin cells to brighten and refresh the complexion.
1 Tbsp full-fat Greek yoghurt
Mix ingredients & apply to clean face & neck in gentle upward sweeping motions. Leave mask 3 to 10 minutes depending on your skin sensitivity. Wash off with warm water & moisturise.
Obviously caring for our skin would not be complete without looking at how Chinese Medicine would tackle it.
Hay'ou is an online store for buying gua sha tools, in the UK. Acupuncturist, Katie Brindle, has lots of tools and advice for helping your skin.
If you are in America, I would highly recommend Yang Face.
Written by Dr Lia Andrews, this book examines the Chinese Medicine principle of the Seven Year Cycle for women. The whole book is excellent and highly recommended but here are some of her suggestions for looking after your skin.
Body Exfoliation Ritual
Shower and thoroughly scrub yourself (loofah, sugar scrub, exfoliation mitt)
Follow with a hot bath with herbs or essential oils
Rinse in a cold shower
Apply moisturising oil or lotion
1 tbsp honey
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp olive oil
2 drops of essential oil (e.g. carrot seed, frankincense, rose, lavender, rosehip, patchouli, geranium, rosewood)
I hope you enjoyed this transition into Autumn blog. If you have any questions at all, please get in touch. I'd love to hear from you.
But in the meantime, what one thing are you going to commit to, to help yourself in Autumn? Leave your comment below.
Love your fave acupuncturist