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Autumn and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Autumn is the beginning of the yin cycle in traditional Chinese medicine, it is time full of movement and change, particularly wind.  The Lungs and Large intestine are the organs most associated with the fall and are important to be kept in balance at this time of the year.  Lung qi gathers and maintains strength and the large intestines “let go” of what isn’t needed.

The Lungs are also associated with the immune system and to the protective qi (wei qi).  Wei qi is controlled by the Lungs and produced by the Spleen.  If wei qi is imbalanced, colds, flu, and allergy symptoms can be common.  Fresh ginger can be helpful for strengthening wei qi.

Pungent food and herbs are important for the Lungs, they are yang and ascending, helping to clear and open the Lungs. They also encourage wind to the leave the body.  Some pungent foods include, capers, cardamom, chives, cinnamon, cloves, dill, leek, oregano, nutmeg, rosemary, thyme, turmeric, wheat germ, watercress, cabbage, ginger, turnip, horseradish, pepper, onions, garlic, and chili peppers. 

TCM herbal formulas which strengthen wei qi, dispel wind, and nourish the lung and stomach yin are good choices for the fall months.  Astra 8, a traditional herbal formula, combines the advantages of an immune system enhancer with an energy tonic. It contains astragalus (huang qi), a herb that some believe can enhance the body's immune system and offers antiviral properties.

Autumn is also a dry season and protecting our skin from cold air and moisturizing skin are also important.  Warm liquids, such as tea and soups are preferred in the fall and less salads and cold foods are recommended.   Foods such as yam and pear, nourish the Lungs and yin.  Finally, staying hydrated during autumn months will help moisten the body.  

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