Happy Autumn for the months of March to May!

Date: 09-03-2022

As the seasons change it is a reminder for us to honour mother nature and our body as it adapts to autumn, leaving behind summer.  This is a particularly important aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), shown by the theory of the Five Phases/Elements.  These elements are in constant movement and change with each element having a relationship of interdependence and mutual restraint that governs them.  We use the theory of the Five Phases/Elements in TCM to interpret the relationship between the pathophysiology and physiology of the human body and its natural environment.  I draw inspiration from the Five Elements in practice to help diagnose and form treatment strategies for the disharmony in each patient’s health. 

The element/phase we are now in belongs to Metal and is represented by the Lung system in TCM of your body.   

The qualities of the Metal element are:  

  • pungent/acrid flavour 
  • the Lung system which is paired/related to the Large Intestine system 
  • it opens via the nose 
  • is represented by our hair and skin 
  • the colour white 
  • and is most affected emotionally by sadness and grief. 

As the TCM organ of the Lung system, it is the most external of the Yin organs/channels, opening from the nose to the external environment.  It is therefore susceptible to dryness and to external pathogens like Wind, Cold and Heat; and is affected by the food we eat and lack of fluid.  When the Lung system is in disharmony, common dryness symptoms occur such as dry skin, chapped lips, dry cough, constipation, scanty urine, and thirst with a dry mouth. 

So what can you do to live in better harmony with autumn and the corresponding Metal/Lung phase of the Five Element cycle? 

  • Check your posture so that you are opening up your chest and making room for your lungs. 
  • Avoid sitting for prolonged periods; take a break and breathe in some fresh air. 
  • Keep hydrated by drinking enough fluids so that your urine is a light yellow / hay colour. 
  • Moisturise your skin (which is our largest organ) to keep it hydrated but also to strengthen it as a barrier – dry/cracked skin is more susceptible to pathogens. 
  • Help your body generate good Qi by combining the fresh air you breathe with the nourishing food you eat – this is the partnership between the Lung and Spleen systems in TCM working together.   

And what food do you eat?  Eat with the seasons!  Visit your local farmers’ market and see what fresh produce is in season – mother nature provides certain foods for a reason so that we can adapt our cooking and diet to suit our body’s needs to our changing environment. 

Written by Debby Cheung – Acupuncturist & Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner