26 Sep Autumn & TCM: Grief, Pears, Metal, White…What? Tell me more.
Autumn is upon us. Although I’m a summer baby, I’ve always fallen in love with the fall season. It’s the smoothest of seasons—the calm after summer and the crisp-warmth before winter. Sweaters, layers, chai, pears, cinnamon, and sunshine. Leaves drop, reminding us to do the same with the things that no longer serve us yet we’re stilling clenching onto. The soil takes in fallen organic matter nourishingly, reminding us to take root into the things that fuel us. It’s a beautiful time.
LOOK OUTWARD + GO INWARD
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is all about reflecting the macrocosm of nature into our own microcosm. Seasonal changes are of utmost importance when it comes to aligning ourselves with the world we inhabit. There are organs, colors, emotions, directions, flavors, and even developmental stages that correspond to each season within what is known as The 5 Element Framework in TCM. The 5 elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water, which correspond to Spring, Summer, Late Summer (yep, there is an extra season ; ) ), Fall, and Winter, respectively.
I am fascinated with Eastern medicine over/over, however, this element (pun intended) of TCM is what has intrigued me from Day 1. It’s incredibly sound to reflect our understanding of the human body by virtue of the natural world around us. We are in-sync // or should strive to be in order to thrive.
LUNGS + LARGE INTESTINE
The organs associated with the fall season (aka metal element) are the lungs and large intestine. Focus on respiratory health. Be mindful of taking in fresh air. Drink aromatic teas like eucalyptus, thyme, and sage infusions. Use your neti pot and add a saline solution to rinse your nasal cavity regularly. Eat and/or take probiotics—kefir, sauerkraut, pickled beets, and/or supplements to boost.
Start to consume more warming-heartier foods rather than a raw-heavy diet.
Think: more stews, less salads.
Steam your veggies. Warm them up. Mix them into a soup. Add softened roots. And pumpkin. What’s fall without pumpkin? Yams, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots. Squash.
WHITE + METAL
By 5 element theory, white is the color for this season, although culturally here in North America, it’s the warm rusty tones. In TCM, the yellows and oranges are reserved for the summer season or the fire element. The color white adds a crisp, clear, clean and fresh sense to the air. This goes well with the metal element as described in a bit, below.
Allow for white space in your life as you clear corners, purge the excess, and consequently find more room to breathe.
Spring-cleaning is followed by Fall-clearing.
Protect your boundaries.
Be open to new ideas.
Embrace a positive self-image.
Let go of negativity in your life. ‘Aint nobody got time for that.
Purge. Rinse and repeat.
This season highlights the metal element. Allow your home to have a few key metal pieces that are decorative yet serve a purpose. A steel bowl for containing clutter or a metal vase with white flowers are examples. According to feng shui theory, the metal element brings purity, efficiency, productivity, preciseness, freshness, and discipline. It adds sharpness and clarity to the environment. If used excessively, however, it may strip liveliness with too much sterility in the room. While balance is key, simply enjoy a little more metal at this time.
WIND + DRYNESS
Wind starts to take stride more swiftly during this season and into the next. According to TCM, wind is “an external evil that is responsible for 100 diseases” and the lungs are delicate organs whose system circulates inside-out, including the skin. Be sure to cover the nape of your neck when out ‘n about to protect your body’s defenses (wei qi) and keep your skin regularly (not excessively) exfoliated and moisturized.
Hydrate. This is the season of dryness. Hydrate again—before you feel thirsty because your natural desire for fluids will decline as the heat is replaced by coolness. Keep that summer habit. Drink more water. No liquid candy. No fancy PSL-mile-long-ingredient-list drinks. Water. It’s enough. It’s what we’re made of. Oh, and no ice. Room temp or warm.
Take time to monitor your breath. Practice this technique to relax more deeply:
Breathe in for 4 seconds,
hold it for 7 seconds,
exhale-out for 8 slow seconds.
Repeat for a few minutes until your mind is clearer and you feel at ease.
SORROW + GRIEF
The dominating emotions of this time are sorrow, grief, and melancholy. Allow yourself to process these emotions carefully. Seek help as needed. This is the time to hold for a moment only to swiftly let go. Move on. You don’t have to forgot. We often can’t. You just need to pull it away from gripping your heart and hold it into your hands. It’s more manageable that way. Feel but don’t dwell. Trust in a higher purpose.
Here are some foods to (especially) enjoy during this season in stews, warm smoothies, solo, and as you see fit:
pears, apricots, plums, persimmons, garlic, leeks, onions, sweet potato, yams, carrots, beets, ginger, cabbage, walnuts, radishes, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice, cardamom, chilli, miso, almonds, walnuts, asparagus, broccoli, lemon, mustard greens, honey, sauerkraut, pickles, and olives to name a few.
Below, you’ll find a nice recipe for sore throat as the season transitions into the cooler months with some of the above ingredients for you and your loved one(s). The star ingredient here is the ripe Asian pear, although star of anise is listed. 🙂 Asian pears are delicious and crispy Earth-candy rich in fiber, vitamin C, copper, potassium, and manganese. In TCM food therapy, they stop dry cough, clear the lungs, soothe a stubborn sore throat, and moisten the skin from the inside-out.
Baked Asian Pear for Respiratory Health
- 2 whole Asian pears
- 1 tbsp honey (or grade b maple syrup)
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 1 pinch clove
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 4 star of anise
- 1 inch ginger knob – grated
- 3-4 crushed walnuts
- 1 tsp almond slivers
- 1 small lemon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Cut pears in half and gently core out a bit of the center
- Place a star anise in each empty core
- squeeze lemon juice on flesh of pears
- Place pears on tray with parchment paper below and put into the oven
- Allow to back for 15-20 minutes
- Next, pull out tray and sprinkle the spices on top
- Put back into the oven and back for another 15-20 minutes or until the pears are tender
- Remove from the oven and drizzle honey all over
- Allow to cool for a few minutes
What are your favorite fall recipes or treats?
Tell me what you love about the fall season.. ♥