21 Oct Let’s FALL into HEALTH
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.
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.
Fall undeniably feels different this year with what we’ve been collectively going through ~ perhaps even more of an opportunity to be reflective, tune in, and shed what’s heavy.
How you’re been feeling? What has this season been bringing up for you?
Keep reading for some holistic fall health reflections.
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*, Fall, and Winter, respectively. *yep, there’s an extra season there. 🙂
I’m fascinated with Eastern medicine over/over, however, this element (pun intended) of TCM is what especially intrigues me. It’s incredibly sound to reflect our understanding of the human body by virtue of the natural world around us. This is true in many ancient traditions from Ayurveda to Unani Tibb (Prophetic Medicine) to Native American Medicine, etc. We’re in-sync (or should strive to be in order to thrive.)
Let’s get into the Fall Element through the lens of TCM theory.
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, lemon balm, and sage infusions.
Use your neti pot and add a saline solution to rinse your nasal cavity regularly.
Enjoy gut supporting pre/probiotic rich foods and/or supplement as needed—kefir, sauerkraut, pickled beets, etc.
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.
The skin is tied to both the lungs and large intestine as well. Have you ever noticed how habits like smoking or having sluggish bowels remove the skin’s luster? I’ll have more to share about this another time. Simply know that things like breath-work and regular elimination will reflect upon healthy glowing skin as well.
WHITE + METAL
By the 5 element theory, white is the color for this season; although culturally here in North America, it’s the warm rusty tones. In East Asian medicine, 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.
You may also wish to explore a few other breathing techniques like: Box Breathing, Alternate Nasal Breathing, Double Inhale – Single Sigh Exhale, etc.
SORROW + GRIEF
The dominating emotions of this time are sorrow, grief, and melancholy. Allow yourself to process these emotions carefully. Release your tears. Exhale slow. Seek help as needed.
This is the time to hold for a moment only to swiftly let go. Move forward. You don’t have to forget. 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. Notice the transient nature of thoughts and emotions. 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).
Although star of anise is listed, the real star ingredient here is the ripe Asian pear. 🙂 Asian pears are delicious and crispy Earth-candy rich in fiber, vitamin C, copper, potassium, and manganese. In East Asian food therapy, they help to 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
Wishing you a healthy season ~
P.S. Speaking of the Fall season, we’re now in the final few days left to place your orders for ELIXIR – Facial Oil Serum [Fall/Winter Edition]. Drop No. 2 (FINAL) is your last chance to claim your bottle before carts close.