Now that we are deep into October, the middle month of this fall season, I wanted to introduce the Metal element, one of the Five Elements of Chinese Medicine that represents Autumn.
Metal is Yin energy. It represents contractive, inward movement. Physically, Metal rules the Lung and Large Intestine. The emotions related to Metal are sadness and grief.
Autumn is a time of letting go, as represented physiologically in the elimination functions of the Lungs and the Large Intestine. These two internal organs work in tandem: one takes in the pure air while eliminating toxins through the nose and skin, the other eliminates solid wastes from the body. People who have deficient Lung Qi are more vulnerable to allergies, bronchitis, infections, and rashes in the fall. They may also suffer from constipation or diarrhea if the Lung and Large intestine Qi are out of balance.
Lung is considered a ‘tender’ organ in Chinese Medicine, meaning that we need to give it extra protection. In the fall when the weather turns and the temperature drops, it is crucial to dress appropriately. The ‘wind gate’ around the neck should always be warm and covered to avoid catching pathogenic cold and wind that can cause illnesses.
Because this is the time for inward movement, sleep becomes essential in keeping the body healthy. The ancients advised that people should retire early at night and rise with the crowing of the rooster during the autumn. “Soul and spirit should be tranquil and to keep their lung pure they should not give vent to their desires.”
Dietary intake affects the health of your lungs. Eating excess cold and raw foods creates dampness or phlegm which is produced by the spleen and stored by the lungs. One should be extra cautious with dairy products, such as milk, cheese, cream, and butter, all of which create phlegm. Pungent foods like garlic, onions, ginger, horseradish, and mustard, eaten in moderate amounts are beneficial to the lungs. In general, eating seasonal foods such as root and cruciferous vegetables, pumpkins and squashes are very nourishing to the body.
Emotionally, while Autumn is a season of letting go (like the leaves that fall from the trees), it is also a time for reflection and transformation. If you have been hanging on to unresolved emotions, or sadness, this is the time to let it all go. The energy of the season will help you eliminate and transform. It will help you grow from your past experiences and move on to the next phase of life.
Other correspondences to Metal and Autumn:
Yin Organ: Lung
Yang Organ: Large Intestine
Sense Organ: Nose