Are you bummed out that summer is over? If the shorter days and cooler weather have you feeling down, according to the philosophy of the 5 Elements of traditional Chinese medicine, it’s perfectly normal to be feeling blue. You see, according to the 5 Elements, sadness is the emotion associated with autumn.
So if you’re suddenly finding yourself more emotional for no apparent reason, you’re perfectly in tune with nature, according to the 2,500-year-old 5 Element philosophy.
In the west, many people actually look forward to the transition to fall. The unrelenting heat and humidity of late summer (a season all to itself according to TCM) will soon give way to cooler nights and more temperate days. There’s also the physical beauty of the season, with fall foiliage’s brilliant, colorful display.
But in conjunction with the remarkable changing of the leaves is the darker side of autumn. Drastic spikes in cold, flus, allergies, and other respiratory symptoms occur.
It’s pretty fitting, then, that the Yin organ associated with autumn, according to the 5 Elements, is the Lungs.
Top 5 Ways To Stay Healthy In Autumn
The dramatic shift in the seasons doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to boost your immunity
Perhaps no other seasonal transition is more dramatic than late summer to fall. Late summer is all about Yang (heat). We spend much of our free time outdoors. Then, seemingly overnight, we’re thrust into a huge circadian shift, transitioning from damp, high-heat Yang energy to the hibernative, dry and cooling, Yin energy of autumn. No wonder so many people get sick this time of year.
However, the dramatic shift in the seasons doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to boost your immunity. In fact, following these 5 tips may decrease your likelihood of getting sick:
#1: Eat Seasonal Foods
Depending on where you live, it might still be warm or even hot in the beginning of autumn. However, even if the weather still doesn’t feel fall-crisp, start eating more cooked foods, especially stews and soups.
In the late summer, people tend to eat more salads and other raw veggies. But raw foods may actually do your body more harm than good. That’s because according to TCM theory, uncooked is very cooling for the body. Eating salad in the high heat of summer might seem natural. But over time, eating too many uncooked foods can produce excess stomach fire (to balance out the cold).
And here’s the problem with that. If your stomach is frequently acting like a raging furnace to kickstart the digestion process of raw foods, eventually your Qi can burn out.
So this time of year, in addition to stews and soups, eat yams, sweet potatoes, cooked green veggies such as asparagus and broccoli. You should also eat plenty of seasonal produce such as apples and pears. Try to eat a little garlic, ginger and onions, too. These pungent foods can help build your defensive Qi (the immune system.)
#2: Protect Yourself From Evil
It turns out that mom was right—you should bundle up when you go outside. According to TCM theory, Wind and Cold are 2 of the 6 pathogenic evils that can invade the body and weaken your immune system. Going outside in a T-shirt for even a short duration, is all it takes for Wind and/or Cold to weaken your “Wei Qi”, the TCM equivalent of the immune system.
In addition to keeping your body warm, another easy way to boost your body’s defenses is by consuming Chinese herbs.
The trio of herbs, Huang Qi, Fang Feng, and Bai Zhu, form one of the least complex yet powerful Chinese medicine formulas. Known in the west as Jade Defender (as well as “Jade Screen”) this ancient and still highly-popular herbal remedy boosts the body’s exterior defenses, meaning it doesn’t allow Cold and Wind evil to penetrate deep within the body.
#3: Boost Lung Qi
Not only is eating lots of raw foods in summer potentially problematic. So, too, are damp-heat producing foods and beverages. Think: barbecue and beer. Damp-heat produces a deficiency of Lung Qi that carries over well into the fall.
One reason people tend to feel run down during the late fall is because the Lungs form and distribute Qi to the body. If there is insufficient Qi in the Lungs, the rest of the body will suffer from Qi deficiency.
And when Lung Qi is deficient, you’re more vulnerable to developing symptoms such as wheezing, sneezing and runny nose. If you’re already feeling these unpleasant symptoms, try Nasal AllergiClear.
A formula containing 11 herbs, Nasal AllergiClear, dissolves phlegm, expels toxins and builds Lung Qi.
#4: Drink Water And Tea
In late summer, because of the hot, damp conditions, most people reflexively hydrate. But as the weather starts getting cooler and dryer, many people forget the importance of keeping the Lungs moist. Drinking water will also benefit the organ that’s paired with the Lungs—the Large Intestines.
By drinking lots of water, your Large Intestines will have an easier time with bowel movements. Keeping your digestive system strong will benefit your overall immunity.
If you’re a tea drinker, you can easily make your favorite herbal tea with our new and improved single herb extract granules. Each bottle comes with a measuring spoon. Just add a spoonful or two to hot water, sip and enjoy.
Huang Qi (astragalus), just one of over 200 herbal granule extracts we carry, and one of the three herbs in Jade Defender, is available in this convenient format.
#5: Start Taking It Easy
Although it’s important to get sufficient exercise, it’s equally important during this time of the year to start going within. Take 5-10 minutes at night to meditate. Doing so may help keep your emotions more balanced. That being said, just remember, if you’re feeling a bit sad, there’s no more appropriate time than autumn to have a good cry.
(But if you’re feeling very sad or anxious, another formula we carry, MooDelight may help keep your emotions in check.)
Suggested Reading From The ActiveHerb Blog:
5 Elements of TCM
The 6 Evils of TCM
8 Remedies for Cold & Flu Season
How To Prevent Getting Sick In Winter