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A traditional Chinese medicine guide to Autumn health: Strengthening the lungs and large intestines.

Category: Blog, Nutrition, Wellbeing

Autumn is a beautiful time of year, the trees start to transition in preparation for the cool winter, and our bodies undergo a shift. In Chinese medicine, this season governs our ability to get organised, set ourselves limits and place boundaries. This season is the best time to start finishing off projects that you started in the spring or summer, and to focus on more internal efforts.

In Chinese medicine the organs of autumn are lung and large intestine which are part of the metal element. The emotion we associate with the lungs and large intestines is grief and sadness. When our lungs and large intestine are thriving, we have the ability to not suppress emotions, and to be strong at letting go. When the metal element is imbalanced, we have difficulty coping with loss, change, we tend to feel sad and hold onto grief.

Think about the physiology of the lungs and large intestines. The lungs exchange fresh oxygen and carbon dioxide- we breath in fresh oxygen (what we call yin in Chinese medicine) and we release what doesn’t serve us. The large intestines are ‘yang’ and are the last part of the body we absorb water. We then release any toxic and unused matter from the body via our bowel – and that is letting go.

When our metal element is imbalanced, we can experience, sadness, uncontrolled crying, dryness in the body, sinus, allergies, as well as constipation.

How we can Strengthen the Lungs:

Breathing exercises: taking long, deep belly breaths in through the nose, and the releasing the breath and repeating, will help to strengthen our lungs, by circulating more fresh oxygen throughout the body. Try to count the inhale for five, and exhale for five. Walk outside in fresh air daily and be mindful of the breath.

How to Strengthen the Large Intestines:

Letting go of negativity – can be one of the fastest ways to strengthen the energy of the bowels. When we are stressed, we hold tension in our gut. Letting go of negative thoughts and emotions, people, and those things that no longer serve you, relax your nervous system allow us to have free flow in the bowel.

Foods to Strengthen the Lungs and Large Intestines:

Pungent and spicy foods strengthen the metal element. These foods include:
Almonds, apples, anise, barley, bananas, beef, butter, carrots, cheese, chicken, corn, duck, eggplant, figs, oats, potatoes, pork, rabbit, rice and spinach.


Written by Sandi Louise Ross: Acupuncturist, Naturopath and Nutritionist at Life Synergy.

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