It sure does not feel like it yet, but August 7th marked the “Start of Autumn” (lì qiū 立秋) while August 23rd was the “Limit of Heat” (chù shǔ 处暑) according to the 24 solar terms. 24 solar terms are based on the sun's position in ecliptic longitude and reflect the changes in natural phenomenon. Even though it feels a little premature since we are still experiencing 90-degree temperatures in LA, it is in fact a perfect time to prepare for Fall Season.
Fall marks a gradual transition of Yang declining and Yin slowly growing. In Chinese Medicine we emphasize the importance of following the natural order and adjusting to this energetic shift.
I would like to share 7 Chinese wisdoms with you:
1. Sleeping more
As mentioned above, in Fall active and outgoing Yang energy is on a decline trajectory which means for us it is time to slow down and start to preserve our body’s resources. Therefore, we should follow the principle of “going to sleep early and getting up early following the cock”. In summer time it was ok to get a little short on sleep, but as Fall approaches we should go to bed before 11pm.
2. "Enduring Cold in Fall"
As Yin is a cooling energy and as outside temperatures go progressively down, it is advisable to gradually strengthen the physique by being exposed and building resistance to cold. Did you know that cold temperatures stimulate metabolism, help you loose weight, improve immune system, increase adrenal hormone production, improve sleep and slow aging process? My favorite cold resistance technique is to jump into an icy-cold pool after the sauna. After few rounds of that I feel rejuvenated and energized. But if it is too much for you, you can start by taking cooler showers in the morning followed by cold water at the very end or perhaps trying Cryo-therapy?
Fall is a dry season and it is very harsh on the skin. Therefore it is recommended to use milky and oily moisturizers to prevent over drying.
4. Taking greater care of the Lungs and Intestines.
According to Five Element Theory, Fall is linked to Lung and Large Intestine (Metal Element).
First and foremost, for those with chronic allergies it is important to start taking preventative Herbal Formulas like Jade Windscreen Powder (Yu Ping Feng San 玉屏風散) to strengthen constitution and prevent flare-ups. As Lungs being the first organ to be invaded by “external pathogens” AKA viruses and Fall season is the beginning of Colds & Flu, this Formula can also be taken to build better resistance against infections. With first symptoms of cold you can use Fresh Ginger Tea with lemon and honey as a remedy but if you’re feeling progressively worse you should start taking Honeysuckle Powder (Yin Qiao San 银翘散) as it is terrific at killing viruses. Dry Season targeting Large Intestines can create constipation issues; therefore consumption of moistening seeds like hemp seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds can be very beneficial.
5. Restraining emotions
Fall is quite literally but also philosophically is a harvesting or gathering season.
Remember what I said about following the nature’s ways? Well, in terms of emotions it means controlling short temper and focusing on self-reflection, tranquilizing and calming the mind. It is important to get rid of distracting thoughts as much as possible. Fall corresponds to Lungs and emotion of Lungs is grief. The sorrow mood can harm the lungs and cause lung’s Qi counterflow causing asthma and shortness of breath. Sightseeing and hiking in nature can make one cheerful and help sad feelings. Some mild physical activities can also help spiritual nervousness, so go for a walk, engage in Taji or QiGong practices.
6. Less Spicy, More Sour Food! (Shao Xin, Zeng Suan 少辛增酸)
Inner Classics (Huang Di Nei Jing 黄帝内经) states that Lung desires a pungent taste. Pungent foods are able to facilitate the dispersing function of Lung Qi. However, when eaten in big quantities, pungent/acrid/spicy food can have a drying and damaging effects on the Lungs.
Nourishing body fluids is one of the key diet goals to counteract drying nature of Fall.
Some popular foods that nourish the Yin and moisten dryness include:
Seeds: hempseeds, walnuts
Fruits: apples, bananas, pears, persimmons, grapes
Fish and Seafood: oysters, clams, crabs, mussels
Dairy: milk, soymilk
Sour flavors can tonify the lung and restrain Qi and fluids and are very favorable in Fall season. Pickles, sauerkraut, olives, and vinegar should all be incorporated in your diet during this season. Perhaps try my Liver Detox? Start every morning by drinking 8oz of artesian spring water mixed with 2oz of unsweetened cranberry juice, 1/3 lemon & 1tbs of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar. If you suffer from allergies, try chrysanthemum & mint tea. For patients with dryness symptoms like dry eyes, dry nose & constipation add honey to your tea. Another great combination is making a tea out of chrysanthemum & goji berries for dry eyes and blurry vision. Rose hip tea is a pleasant sour tea that is also packed with Vitamin C to prevent Colds.
Please bear in mind that if you have a Damp or Phlegm constitution (thick tongue coating, weight issues, cholesterol issues, edema and water retention issues) you should avoid dairy products and sour foods.
7. Exercise without perspiring
Avoid intense exercises in order to stay away from losing body fluids and damaging Yang Qi. Breathing exercise, Qigong, Yoga as well as some moderate outdoor activities should be chosen to follow principles of gathering and tranquilizing.