Fall Health Tips: A Perspective from Chinese Medicine

With the change of seasons and the arrival of cooler and shorter days, the wisdom of Chinese medicine offers us some helpful suggestions for staying healthy during this time of year.

According to Chinese medicine, keeping the lungs strong and healthy is especially important during the fall. Taking walks outside and breathing exercises strengthen the lungs. Protecting yourself from becoming chilled, particularly by wearing a scarf around the neck, is a good illness prevention measure as wind and cold are said to be “the cause of 100 diseases.” Grief is the emotion associated with the lungs, so finding ways to deal with grief such as by allowing yourself to cry, talking with a trusted person about how you feel, getting an acupuncture treatment and/or doing some self-massage and breathing exercises (here’s a great video!) can help you process and move through grief in a healthy way.

Certain types of foods and drinks have beneficial health properties for us during the fall season. In particular, there are several that are warming in nature, aiding in blood circulation and boosting immune function. Warming spices such as cinnamon, ginger, garlic, onion and scallions are especially beneficial for people who tend to become chilled easily. Try a hot Chai tea, adding some cinnamon to oatmeal, or cooking a delicious soup or dish with garlic, onions and/or scallions.

Pears are beneficial particularly when steamed or lightly cooked to relieve cough and cold symptoms. They reduce coughing and excessive mucous/phlegm production while moistening and soothing the throat. They’re also generally good as a tonic for the lungs, so they’re a great choice to eat even when you’re not experiencing any upper respiratory symptoms.

Consuming more cooked vegetables and less raw foods such as salads strengthens the digestion and overall health during this time of year.

Enjoy the season and stay healthy!

Justine Myers, Lic. Ac.