It's been a wonderful start to new beginnings in Gibraltar and I feel humbled to have been received so warmly. Each client coming to work with me for their health care has been intrinsic in my growth and I'd like to thank each one of you.
Now with winter around the corner I am looking forward to nestling in so will be increasing hours at Central Clinic and joining the Zen Centre on Wednesdays.
Living with the Seasons
As mentioned in my summer news letter the purpose is to send this out quarterly to educate and give tips on how you can optimise health with the seasons, as those coming to see me for their healthcare know it is not all just about herbs and needles.
In Traditional Chinese culture living in harmony with the seasons is recognised as fundamental to good health, longevity and well being.
"From ancient times it has been recognised that there is an intimate relationship between the activity and life of human beings and their natural environment."
Autumn is when we enter into the metal phase of the yearly cycle. It is a time when the expanding and vibrant nature of summer phases into a a more contracting, inward and downward nature. This is reflected in the season where harvest is collected and everything begins to start letting go, like a tree giving up its leaves to the earth and sending its sap deep into its roots as we get ready for winter.
Dusk arrives earlier and a chill starts to fill the air. There may be a melancholy (yours truly) for some as we realise that summer is ending and winter is around the corner.
Such erratic temperatures also make it hard to know what to wear. Dress for the weather, it's all about layers so carry extra so not to be caught out. The lung in Chinese Medicine is called the "delicate organ" and is susceptible to external pathogens, it is said that these are always carried into the body on the back of wind. It is no coincident that three integral acupuncture points in the treatment of colds and flu are located on the back of the neck and all have "wind" in their name. As much as these points treat your nasty cold they also leave you vulnerable so protect yourself by wearing a scarf!
Sleep is also important at this time of year as it's regenerative processes contribute to a strong immune system. In the classics it is written in autumn one should go to bed earlier and rise with the dawn.
Brisk walks are encouraged with long, deep slow breaths to strengthen the lungs, it is also a time to be cautious not to over exert, cultivating more internal practices to replenish your reserves.
The emotion associated with the metal element is grief. When grief is harboured and held onto it causes chronic contraction of the lungs which eventually disturbs their function, however grief when expressed can be cleansing to the lungs as well as repressed emotions. It is a good time to take up practices such as Tai Chi, Yoga, Meditation or Qi Gong to learn how to use breath, which will assist with this letting go quality and welcome in our ability to move on. This can also be an ideal time to work things through with a counsellor.
Even though it is our custom to do a spring clean, autumn is actually a good time to clean out and get rid of what we don't need, again assisting with that letting go quality of cleaning out the old to make room for the new.
Someone in balance with their metal element will be objective, hold value and integrity, be hard working, competent and organised, strive for a higher purpose. When out of balance it may manifest as cynical and aloof, isolating themselves, low self esteem and critical of self and others as well as high expectations.
Some may have a sense of melancholy, think of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and that is why nature provides us with all the colours to help guide us toward our inner light. This is a time to turn inward drop the heavy burdens making space to cultivate new experiences from which we can grow.
The lung is the receiver of oxygen. It brings oxygen in which is transported to all the cells in our body, this is exchanged for waste which is returned to the lungs and expelled as carbon dioxide. The other organ in the metal element is the large intestine and they are regarded as a team working to bring the pure in and the metabolic waste out.
Foods for Autumn & Lung
The lungs in Chinese Medicine control the circulation of our defensive qi, this is equated to a component of our immune system as it circulates between the skin and muscle protecting against invasion of colds and flu, therefore making us more susceptible if weak. As 70-80% of our immune system is produced in our gut it is also a time to care for what we eat helping our body adjust to the seasonal change by turning to more warming steamed and slow cooked soups, bone broths and stews with fresh seasonal meats and vegetables, beans like aduki, lentil and kidney. We should eliminate to much in the way of cold foods and moderate dairy which can over produce phlegm in the body whilst increasing a moderate amount of pungent foods that help to benefit the lung.
The sense of smell is the sense associated with the lungs, so fragrant, warm foods should be used to stimulate the appetite. To assist the more inward contracting nature of the season sour flavoured foods should be added, not overindulging of course. Sauerkraut, leeks, pickles, olives, vinegar, cheese, yogurt, lemons, limes, grapefruit, sour apples, plumbs and grapes.
Unless you need more tailored dietary advice for a condition, general guide lines for the Autumn season are:
A moderate amount of pungent foods can help to protect and clean the lungs such as mustard, ginger, garlic, leek, horseradish, radish, turnip, cabbage and onions. Because of the drying nature of autumn moistening foods such as pears and apples (better stewed), grapefruit, lemons, pumpkin and seaweed should be consumed.
Herbs and spices to use are caraway, cardamom, bay, cloves, cinnamon, chives, dill, fennel, oregano, nutmeg, thyme, rosemary and turmeric.
Dark green and golden orange vegetables rich in Beta carotene are abundant at this time of year to protect the lungs and large intestine. Don't forget the large intestine also likes fibre which is welcomed by the gut bacteria, improving the taking in of nutrients and transit time.
Get into fermented veggies (a.k.a. sauerkraut) which are easier to digest and protect our digestion by assisting the gut microbiome (that's the gut bacteria) therefore our immune system. Check out one I made with My Body Zone!!!