Fall Leave Changing Needs

Paved path with scattered autumn leavesIn Traditional Chinese Medicine each season brings with it changes to our constitution, which affects our physical, mental, and emotional needs. The transition we feel in the air where dryness starts to pervade, and the wind we feel on our skin are both elements that can affect our health. Dryness can be experienced via our skin, our mouth, our lungs, perhaps developing a dry cough in the season. Wind is a source in nature that invades us and we feel it penetrating our skin which is the equivalent of affecting our immune system, so we may feel depleted at times or find ourselves getting a cold. The days become shorter and the darkness creeps up on us earlier in our 24 hour cycles which affects our energy flows and how much we feel like accomplishing in a day.

Adding Moisture

If you find that dryness element is taking hold, be it in your mouth, throat, skin, or lungs there are things you can add into your routine to provide more internal moisture and hopefully preserve some of what is still there. Fall is a great time to eat pears, pomegranates, and peanuts (granted you are allergy free). They all provide a level of moistening, particularly at the internal level that you may feel it most. Another obvious action item is to stay hydrated. As the temperatures decrease it is fairly normal to find that water gets forgotten at times because we aren’t working in temperatures or expending as much energy as we do when it’s warm and we tend not to get thirsty as frequently. Some people would rather gravitate to warm drinks like coffee or caffeinated teas as well which don’t provide the hydration of simple water.

Herbal medicine is such a relief in the fall as well. If you visit your local TCM practitioner who is also an herbalist, they can recommend some short term herbs that can help with combatting the dryness.

Boosting The Immune System

As the wind tends to pick up, especially here in the upper Midwest, we need to work on protecting our bodies from it. It is when it invades our bodies we experience symptoms of the sniffles, sneezing, sore throats, increased headaches, or possible fever and chills. To some it may sound foolish, however wearing a scarf to protect the neck from the elements can be beneficial. Making sure you are getting a good variety of foods to keep the immune system well fed and vigilant is also important. Allowing your body’s natural rhythms to kick in to follow those seasonal and light changes. If you are feeling more drained earlier in the evening please allow yourself to rest or go to bed earlier if you are feeling sleepy. It is your body’s way to stay in sync with the cycles of nature, not its way to aggravate you by taking your go-get-em attitude away and trying to fit as much in to the “day” as possible.

If for some reason the wind does get into you and symptoms of a cold arise I highly recommend herbal medicine as a way to support your body through the symptoms. It can help decrease the time you feel under the weather and get you back on your feet in a more timely fashion. Other herbs are known assist the immune function if taken as soon as symptoms start to arise and they are Black Elderberry and Echinacea. That combination, to me, is a wonderful remedy when cold symptoms start to express themselves. Keep in mind some people with certain allergies may react poorly to Echinacea, as it is a flower. Therefore, if you know you are allergic to ragweed, mums, marigolds, or daisies you aren’t probably going to want to take it. It is also not meant to be taken long term, so keep it to the few days (potentially 2 weeks max) that you need it and put it away for later.

Hopefully you will be able to enjoy your changing seasons with health and happiness throughout.