Here on the East Coast, we are officially in the Autumn season. In Chinese medicine, Autumn is associated with the metal element and the organs of large intestine (yang) and lung (yin). The lungs can be compared to the expansion and contraction that is seen in the element metal. Likewise, the large intestine contracts (peristalsis) in order to empty, hopefully on a daily basis. These two organs are considered our armor in many ways and like metal armor, are the most exterior of our organs, being directly connected to the outside environment.
These two organs are very well paired; one eliminates wastes, the other receives energy. Letting go, taking breath in and allowing it to be released. We have to let go of the old to make way for the new. Tree’s let go of their foliage. It is the time when a plant’s energies begin to contract, with the chlorophyll returning to its core. As the days and nights become cooler our own body’s energy begins to contract, just as the plants seen in nature. Deep breathing, support & moistening of the lungs are crucial this time of season. Our immune system is stimulated and challenged by the change and we see the lungs attacked by allergens, bacteria, viruses, and the cool dry air. Increase the breath through exercise and increase hydration with lots of fluids. It is a perfect time to wear scarfs to keep that region of the body warm. As the body tries to naturally contract, ease into the Autumn season by eating spicy foods to bring on expansion. Going to bed early to stay away from the chilliness and resting your body from fatigue that can come with the change of season. Give yourself herbal steam facials to allow the lungs to breath in moisture & warmth.
As we bring upon more “in” elements (yin) we must also support “out” elements (yang). The intestine is the organ of waste. Similar to the lung, the large intestine needs to let go of what it is holding so we can eliminate what we don’t need. We don’t hold the breath in, so just as the long, no waste should be held within the intestine. Let go and naturally see a change in your emotional and physical well-being. It is a perfect time to de-clutter your home, yard or personal schedule. Autumn in general is a good time to cleanse the intestine through detox. Look at your diet and eliminate unsupportive foods. Perhaps follow a 3 day juice cleanse or go for a colonic or practice at home cleansing enema’s to further help with elimination.
Autumn represents a time for harvesting – the last chance to take in the energy of the summer sun. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, autumn has a downward movement, illustrated by the growth of root vegetables. Eating in accordance with the seasons should have a strong positive effect on your ability to ward off symptoms of ill health. Start eating nutritious soups, warming ginger tea, fermented foods to help support immune function, eat fresh produce that are in season that can be found at your local farmer’s market.
Slippery Elm Lozenges
If the season has already caught up to you…like it has me…make these lozenges! I have a dry cough along with weezing and tons of mucus that’s been bothering me since the official day of Autumn. I’m also suffering with some pretty bad heartburn so these will double as a healer for my cough and my damaged esophagus.
yields: a little over 50 (quarter sized) lozenges
1 cup Slippery Elm Powder (can be bought at Mountain Rose Herbs)
1/2 cup licorice root tea
4 tablespoons raw honey
dropper full of flavored stevia of choice
Start by brewing your licorice root tea (I used 2 tea bags). As soon as water boils, turn off heat and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Add your honey to the tea, along with stevia drops and allow to cool for another 10 minutes so its cool enough to handle. In a bowl pour the slippery elm powder and make a little well in the center. Pour the tea and honey mixture in the center and gently with your hands mix until a dough forms. Pour a little slippery elm powder on your surface and roll out until a 1/4″ thick. Take a small bottle cap and start cutting out little lozenges. Gather scraps to form a new ball and start again until all dough is used up. Store lozenges on a plate on counter for 24 hours so they can harden. I’m sure you can always speed up the drying process by sticking them in the dehydrator. Store in a cool, dry place (or refrigerate) in an airtight container. Allow the lozenge to dissolve slowly in mouth (when it gets “gummy” you can swallow it). You can also dissolve in hot water and drink it as a tea. Take one lozenge every 2 hours s needed.
A little info on Slippery elm:
Slippery elm, an herbal remedy derived from the inner bark of the slippery elm tree, provides several health benefits. It contains mucilage, a thick substance that becomes a gel when combined with water. Native Americans first discovered the herb’s health benefits and today, herbalists still prescribe slippery elm for treating a variety of ailments.
It helps to neutralise stomach acids, boost the adrenal glands, draw out impurities, and heal all parts of the body. The mucilage coats the mouth, oesophagus, and gastrointestinal tract with a slick residue. It soothes the inflammation of ulcers in the stomach and duodenum and helps to provide a barrier between the ulcer and stomach acid. It soothes irritations or ulcerations in the stomach and intestines and is good for helping with gastrointestinal conditions. This gel is said to coat the throat, soothe soreness, reduce irritation of the mucous membranes and prevent coughing. The herb is said to coat the stomach and intestines, and it may relieve pain from ulcers, heartburn and other gastrointestinal disorders. Slippery elm helps with digestion and cleanses the colon and creates an environment beneficial to healing. Slippery elm is a tonic that benefits the adrenal glands, respiratory system, and the gastrointestinal tract. Used topically, slippery elm can relieve minor injuries such as burns, cold sores, razor burns, scrapes, and sunburn.
Dosage of Slippery Elm
The generally advised dosage of slippery elm is to take between 4 and 10 grams of the dried inner bark in capsule form three to four times a day. You can also make a tea by boiling teaspoons-full of loose bark in a cup of water for ten to fifteen minutes, cooled before drinking. Three to four cups of this tea can be drunk per day. Here is a tea recipe using powder. To use externally, mix coarse powdered bark with boiling water to make a poultice and rub on external wound.