Whilst studying Chinese medicine I was introduced to the idea that our bodies are in tune with nature and that we can and should adapt our behavior in response to nature. At the time this was news to me but over the years I have appreciated the wisdom of taking my cues from the seasons. At the Yinova Center, we encourage our patients to celebrate transitions and to acknowledge the effect life’s rhythms have on us. As one season transitions into another, it is traditional for acupuncturists to use this time of energetic movement to positively affect our patient’s health and well being.
I love the fall and feel its energy distinctly in my own life. It’s a time where the warming, yang energy of summer dissipates and we transition into the more yin, cooler energy of the fall and winter. Summers being yang are supposed to be frenetic with travel and movement a priority. Winters being yin should be more slow and nourishing. Autumn is a time of transition when according to Chinese medicine we should begin to slow down and store energy for the winter months ahead. It’s a time to boost the immune system to ward of colds and flu and to switch from cooling summer foods to warming winter ones.
The movement of autumn in Chinese philosophy is downward and this is reflected in the root vegetables that are available at this time. Unlike summer vegetables that get their energy by soaking up the sun’s rays, winter vegetables reach down into the ground to get their sustenance and we in turn are nourished and sustained when we eat them. Also in season are tree fruits such as apples and pears which have used the summer sun to ripen. In Chinese medicine they are said to have stored the energy of the sun and that we benefit from this energy by eating them in the run-up to winter.
Here is the advice we give our Yinova patients to help them enjoy the beautiful fall season.
- Carry a sweater with you. People are often still wearing their summer clothes but temperatures fluctuate in the fall and in Chinese medicine it’s important to avoid subjecting yourself to changes in temperature which are considered bad for the immune system. So to avoid an autumn cold dress in layers so that you can wrap up easily if the weather changes.
- Transition from cooling summer salads to warming soups that are rich in root veggies and nourishing meats. Nourishing yourself with warming foods is considered a great way to build up energy for the long winter ahead. Likewise, apple pie and baked apples or poached pears contain the energy of summer and we can use them to nourish our bodies as we transition into winter.
- Drink plenty of warm liquids such as green tea. After the humidity of summer, the fall is often dry and dryness in Chinese medicine can weaken yin energy and lead to coughs and allergies.
- Visit your acupuncturist for a series of immune-boosting treatments ahead of winter’s cold and flu season and if you are prone to catching colds ask about the formula Jade Windscreen. This herbal combination has been used for hundreds of years in China to ward off viral infections.