With the arrival of fall comes the rush of harvesting, sending the kids off to school, and preparing for the coming winter. There’s a new nip in the air that wasn’t there before…days are balmy with brilliant blue skies, and nights are crisp; good sleeping weather. Good weather for snuggling together with your sweetie, or a pet or two, for warmth!
In Chinese medicine, Metal is the element for this season, and the color is white, associated with the respiratory system, from nose to lungs. The large intestine is also linked to the Metal element…. think of the body harvesting oxygen from the lungs, and pulling every last bit of nutrition and energy from food as it passes through the digestive tract. Two key systems, both responsible for harvesting and assimilating nutrients from the materials we take in, whether air or food.
So how can we protect and maintain our health as we enter this season? Well, we can start by looking at the world around us: trees dropping their leaves and fruit, underbrush dying back. The world is cleaning house, clearing the decks for its winter rest.
So let’s begin in the same way: by cleansing! To be able to harvest nutrients effectively, our systems need to be running clear and clean, without blockages. Have you ever tried to take a long, deep breath of fresh air through a stuffed-up nose – or to enjoy a delightful, nourishing meal when you’re constipated? So it’s critical to help your body to take in all the nutrients it can, by keeping the passageways clear and healthy.
How can you do this? Actually, it’s quite simple.
Tips for Clearing Your Sinuses:
- Drink plenty of water! If you are already starting to feel nasal congestion, a cup of hot water with lemon juice in it can work wonders.
- Avoid foods that encourage mucous build-up: sugar, wheat and dairy. Even if you don’t have gluten sensitivities, these can cause sinus congestion and post-nasal drip.
- Use a Neti pot to clear your sinuses on a regular basis (once daily during periods of serious congestion; twice or three times a week otherwise). Be sure to use distilled water – not tap water or spring water! – and pure salt without additives or anti-caking agents. If you feel your immune system needs a boost, add 2-3 drops of Colloidal Silver, or 30-60 drops of Goldenseal Extract, or a dropper-ful of Varcho Veda Neti Wash Plus.
Tips for Clearing Your Lungs:
- If you have already developed chest congestion, again, drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated helps to keep the mucous loose and easily expelled.
- Place a vaporizer or a diffuser in your room with eucalyptus or peppermint oil.
- Eating plenty of fresh fruits – especially citrus! – and vegetables – especially fermented! – will help to boost your immune system.
- Try steaming cups of hot herbal teas, such as angelica root, cardamom, cayenne pepper and rosemary
- Eat spicy foods containing chili, jalapenos and/or black pepper (though if you’re going for Mexican food, skip the cheese!)
- Hot-water bottles on your chest can help to loosen up the mucous.
- Aromatic herbal rubs (or Vicks Vapo-Rub in a pinch) can help to clear your airways.
- An old folk remedy with modern credentials is a shot-glass with equal parts apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and honey, well stirred and taken whenever you need it (if you can stand the taste!)
Clearing your Lower Intestinal Tract
- Water! Water! Water! A full 20-oz glass or two before you go to bed, and another in the morning, first thing when you wake up, then several throughout the day. Add another glass of water for every cup of caffeinated coffee or tea you drink.
- If you’re not already taking probiotics, start now. Ultimate Flora has a product called Critical Colon that can help to restore your intestinal flora quickly.
- High-fiber foods, especially pineapple and pumpkin, can help to restore regularity.
- Have your magnesium levels checked, and begin taking a magnesium supplement. Most people are deficient in this important mineral, which helps to control lower-intestinal health.
- If you are seriously blocked, a coffee enema can clear years’ worth of encrusted waste and detoxify your liver at the same time. See instructions here: http://www.treating-cancer-alternatively.com/Coffee-enema-recipe.html
- If you are interested in restoring full-body health along with clearing your lower GI tract, consider an autumnal cleanse.
Clearing Emotional and Spiritual Energies
Grief is the emotion associated with Autumn in Chinese medicine. How depressing, you might think, reflexively turning away to positive thoughts: negativity, begone!
But here we beg to differ! Sure, it’s not healthy to wallow in grief without end, and unshakeable clinical depression is very real. But we’d like to suggest that our culture’s phobia around sadness and grief is not only unhealthy but actually dangerous, and leads to worse dis-eases in the end. We deflect our grief over years, not releasing it fully, and wind up numbed-out and unconscious of our emotional constipation! Then, suddenly, we have a mental/emotional/spiritual crisis – or worse, a physical crisis such as cancer – and can’t figure out why it happened.
By contrast, intentionally giving yourself the time to express grief, in whatever way you need to, for as long as you need to, flushes emotional/energetic toxins out of the body. There are many ways of doing this: from grief and bereavement-support groups, to creative processes such as soul collage or mandala-making, to dance or breath therapy. If you continually feel weighed down by grief, and are continually on the edge of tears, consider exploring acupuncture to treat an imbalance in the Metal element.
More than anything, all of this is about cleansing – cleansing the mind, body and soul to allow new openings and new growth to take place. See it as a process of moving energy through your body, and allow yourself to experience the process fully – it leads to a richer, fuller life on the other side!