Seasonal changes on the body.


Ever wonder why your body changes during changes in season? The change in weather has an overall effect on the body and mind as well as effecting certain organs, their function, and vitality.

Last night, I told my acupuncturist that I was starting to feel the change of the seasons within my body. Feeling a little sluggish, stuffy, cold hands and feet, skin feeling dry and a few digestion issues. Supposively these are all normal signs of our bodies adapting to the cooler weather. She told me that in traditional Chinese medicine, there is an organ that is associated with each respective season that we are approaching. Each organ has an inter-related function or relationship with the body and with our external environment. Fall is the season of the Lungs & its partner, the large intestine!

Pinned ImageWhile summer is a time of great activity, winter is a time of stillness and clarity. During summer, in the garden we see plants sending their energies down into their roots. Summer is the time for great displays of foliage, flowers, and fruit, fall harvests these fruits, but winter is the time for storage and the wisdom that accrues with contemplation and assessment. In between Summer and Winter lies Fall, the time of wind and movement.

Wind starts up suddenly and dies down just as suddenly. From September to November there is rapid give and take: one day it’s really hot, the next day cold is in the air. In Spring it is the same; one day we smell Spring coming and notice the buds on the trees, the next day it snows. In Chinese medicine this push and pull, this wind, is dangerous. It is a time when the body must continually adapt to change of weather, from opening the pores to sweat to closing them to protect from cold.

Season of the Lungs
Pinned Image
In the body, preparation for Winter is centered around the lungs, the organ whose power is exerted in Fall. That means that poor maintenance of the body, poor diet, sleep, insufficient or excessive exercise, and stress will easily damage the lungs during this time of year. The power of Fall is the power of the harvest. And when the harvest fails, you go hungry in Winter. The lungs can be looked at as the canopy of the internal organs. With each breath they maintain contact with the outer world. As such, they are the vulnerable first line of defense against exterior pathogens. We rely upon our lungs to absorb the Qi of the air, effectively and efficiently. In order to do this they must remain slightly moist and slightly cool. The lungs are like two giant sponges. They are delicate and light and are easily damaged or weakened by smoke, particulate matter (dust, asbestos), air-borne fumes (bleach, synthetic perfume), unprocessed or overwhelming grief, and natural climactic factors like wind-cold and wind-dry. 
Each and every organ is also effected emotionally by the energy of the season. The emotion of grief is related to the Lungs. This is the time of year that grief and sadness are related to losses that you are holding onto. Its time to let them go. Observe nature. Fall is when trees let go of their leaves. Letting go means we have harvested all that we can and all that is most valuable so we can release the rest and prepare for a bountiful Spring. Spring is a time of new beginnings. Prepare for the newness of the upcoming season by shedding all that you are holding onto – is there something in your life that you know you need to let go of? Fill your lungs with air and let it all out, along with all the repressed emotions, feelings or energy thats holding you down. Breath in fresh air and breath out all the old cobwebs.

To get the most out of winter, the months where we turn inwards even further, look back upon what you have learned during this year and take that valuable knowledge into the new season of Spring. You will be fully ready and open to the new possibilities that will surely arise in springtime. 

Three Steps for Protecting Lungs

  • The first step to protecting the lungs is to protect them from exposure to severe cold or severe dry. Since you can’t control the weather (though you can wear a scarf), we use herbs and food to ameliorate nature’s effects.
  • As the lungs are the organ most affected by grief and sadness, it is important, especially if you have weak Qi or Asthma, to be in touch with issues of grief and sadness, so that you may process them. That means allowing the discomfort to be felt and then moved through. Unsuccessfully processed emotions, like anger, grief, sadness, worry, fear, are all “internal” causes of disease in Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. 
  • Knowing your constitution (Dosha) and having a lifestyle and diet appropriate to it is an excellent way to ensure lung health. Many Americans have a diet that is far too heavy with wheat and gluten. Most of us can do better with less wheat. And for people with a tendency to excess damp accumulation (for example, easy weight gain, chronic yeast or bladder infections, chronic bronchitis, oily skin, issues of excessive phlegm), it is imperative to have a cleansing diet rich in green leafy and other cruciferous vegetables. Cold beverages and foods can also be harmful.

    The lungs function best when they are slightly moist. 

    Here are some warming and moisturizing foods to feed your lungs:

    Ginger Tea 

    The simplest way to warm your body up is with hot tea. Fresh ginger root “relieves the surface,” meaning it warms the superficial layers of the body, muscles and skin. Dry ginger tea “warms the interior.”
    Dry ginger or ginger powder is “hotter” than fresh ginger root and more profoundly warms the core of the body. You can sweeten this tea with honey.
    Other warming tea spices are fennel, cinnamon, and clove.
    Whole Flax Tea with Honey

    This tea moisturizes the lungs, expels, phlegm and calms cough. Flax seeds appear in old Western herbal manuals as a remedy for lung consumption. The slightly lubricating consistency of this tea will attest to their action upon the lungs. Honey is a well known expecrorant and cough remedy.

    1 Tbsp whole flax
    1 tsp honey

    Pour boiling water over flax seeds and allow to steep for 10 mintues. Strain
    and add honey.

    Pears and Pear Juice: A Natural Protective & Restorative for the Lungs

    Conveniently, nature provides us with an abundance of pears in Autumn. Chinese medicine says that pears “enter the lung channel.” Pears are naturally moistening and cooling, perfect for nourishing & protecting the mucosa of respiratory tissue against the ravages of dryness, heat and toxins. 

    Pears can be cooked and mashed like applesauce. Add a little warming cinnamon in cold weather and a tiny amount of honey, which also benefits the lungs.

    When you catch a cold or get bronchitis, you must push fluids. Try adding an ounce of pear juice to seven ounces of water. Knudsen brand makes a great organic Pear juice which is not from concentrate.

    Other foods that benefit the Lung Qi
    -White Peppercorns-
    -Daikon Radish-

    Other protective foods include all dark green and orange vegetables such as carrot, pumpkin, broccoli, parsley, wheat grass, and watercress. These veggies, because of their high beta-carotene content, protect the surface (skin) and mucous membranes of the body. They also protect the Lung and Large Intestine from cancer.

    To help cleanse the Lungs and Large Intestine eat plenty of fibre rich foods such as the vegetables mentioned above, fruit, plus whole grains such as oats, millet and rice.

    So during this Fall season, don’t fight the changes, be one with nature and gain harmony by taking extra care of your bodies adjustment to the weather. Feed it what it needs in order to have maximum strength and vitality. Next month I will go over Winter, the Season of the Kidneys.

    Don’t forget to Breath deeply!


    2 thoughts on “Seasonal changes on the body.

    1. wow LOVE LOVE this post!!! since I am healing right now this is def a good thing to read! πŸ™‚ i've been trying to have my ginger tea alot everyday! and warming foods! thanks!!

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