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  • Writer's pictureAku Energija

Chinese Medicine health tips for Autumn

As the Summer fades and the daylight gradually shorten, we are now in a transition from the warm and expansive Yang of Summer toward the cold contracting Yin of Winter. Days become shorter and colder, leaves dry up and fall. Nature, as well as the human body, begin to contract, to internalize. Huang Di Nei Jing, a Traditional Chinese Medical classic that talks primarily about health preservation written over 2000 years ago, recommends that we should adjust our lifestyles according to the different seasons.

Chinese Medicine and Autumn

In nature, the seasons are everything. Seasons determine when plants grow and when they wither, when animals gather food and when they hide away. So it makes sense that in natural, holistic healing, the seasons play an important role for us. According to the TCM principle of harmonizing with nature (天人合一), human physiology follows and responds to biological rhythm. Humans and nature exchange information and energy. Being aware of the subtle changes in nature allows us to understand our inner processes and tune in consciously with the energy of the season.

Spring gives birth, Summer grows, Autumn harvests and Winter stores. 春生, 夏長, 秋收, 冬藏

Autumn is the season when everything is in a state of inward contraction. Plants start to die or to hibernate, and the weather becomes cooler and drier. Autumn traditionally is the season of harvest. Our bodies begin to harvest and gather energy for the colder months and begin to move it down. Yang (active, bright, hot), which is dominant in Summer, starts giving way to Yin (quiet, dark, cold), which is dominant in Winter. Autumn is the season for clearing any excess heat from the body and then starts warming it from the inside, in preparation for the colder months. Autumn is the time of year that corresponds to sunset during the day. According to the Chinese solar terms, Autumn begins on the 7th of August 立秋. Followed by the End Of Heat 23rd of August 處暑, White Dew 8th of September 白露, Autumn Equinox 23rd of September 秋分, Cold Dew 8th of October 寒露 and Descend of Frost 23rd of October 霜降.

What to do in Autumn to optimize health?

The second chapter of the Huang Di Nei Jing, Su Wen section is titled The Great Treatise on Regulating the Spirit with the Four Seasons (四氣調神大論). This chapter gives basic descriptions of the four seasons and, based on Yin-Yang and Five Phases theories, how we harmonize ourselves with each. Here is what it said about Autumn healthcare:

“The three months of Autumn, nature is abundant and calm. The Qi in the atmosphere is fast changing. The Qi of the earth becomes bright. Go to rest early and rise early, get up together with the chicken. Let the mind be peaceful and tranquil, so as to soften the sorrow in Autumn. Retrive the spirit to balance the Autumn power. Do not direct your mind to the outside so it keeps the Lung clear. This is correspondence with the power of autumn and it is the Way to nourish gathering. Opposing it harms the lung and causes weak digestion and insufficient energy storage in the Winter.”

秋三月,此謂容平,天氣以急,地氣以明,早臥早起,與雞俱興,使志安寧,以緩秋刑,收斂神氣,使秋氣平,無外其志,使肺氣清,此秋氣之應養收之道也,逆之則傷肺,冬為飧泄,奉藏者少。

What does this mean exactly? No worries, let’s translate this into an actual action plan below.

Self Care Tips for Autumn

  1. Calm the Mind Autumn is the time for self reflection, especially self reflection that brings about inner quiet. Do breathing exercise to bring your attention back to your inner self. After the hype of Summer days, it is time to get back to the usual routine. Focus on keeping your healthy habits and productive performance at work or school. Autumn is the perfect time to take stock of all things in your life. Let go of the old, make room for the new; donate old clothes to charity; clean out your computer deleting anything you no longer need. It is important to exercise in Autumn but avoid anything too strenuous and excessive sweating. The same goes for food, do not over heat up your body with deep fried or grilled food. [Read more: Simple mindfulness exercises] [Read more: The benefits of Tai Chi]

  2. Go to Bed Early and Wake Early As the daylight is getting shorter, wind down in the evening and prepare to go to sleep earlier. In general, late evening training is not advisable. If a day is divided in the four sections like a year, then the sunset correspond to the Autumn. When the sun rises, Yang energy is activated, just like the Spring time. When the sun sets, Yang naturally recedes to its storing place deep into the body, to rest and be refuelled. The key of Autumn health is about gathering and preserving energy to prepare for Winter. On the other hand, do get up early to catch more daylight before the long and dark Winter to utilize the Yang energy. [Read more: Sleep tips: TCM approach]

  3. Protect and preserve your energy Autumn is the beginning of cold and flu season. It’s time to retire your favorite summer salad, cold drink and ice-cream. In the summer, the warm yang nature of the season helps us digest raw foods. But as temperatures begin to drop, you should eat more cooked and warming foods. This prevents further strain on your digestion and Spleen, and helps your body conserve energy to protect itself from illness. If you start to get chills or feel like you’re beginning to catch a cold, foods such as fresh ginger, green onions and hot rice congee can help to bring your defensive Qi to the surface of the body to fight off external pathogens. And do incorporate the abundant Autumn harvest like grains, persimmon, pear, apple, pumkins, walnut, chestnut and start making sauerkraut. [Read more: Cook your food - digestive system explained in Traditional Chinese medicine]

  4. Wear scarf and layers of clothes The temperature difference is widening in Autumn. We should begin layering more clothes to prepare for the fast and strong changes of external temperature. Always protect your neck, lower back, knees and ankles to keep your defensive power and vital energy. [Read more: TCM Treatment For Cold Hand And Feet]

The best way to stay healthy according to Chinese medicine, is learning about the nature of each season and living in harmony with its spirit. If we are living in harmony with the world around us, we see that nature is slowing down and contracting, preparing to rest so it is good for us to do the same. Sleeping a little longer, eating warming, nourishing foods, and moving inward – paying extra attention to our internal lives. Forward thinking and early preparation makes healthcare so easy. Now is the perfect time to connect with a TCM practitioner, who can support you with acupuncture and herbal formulas that enhance your immunity, digestion and health improvement according to your personal needs.


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