The Season of Letting Go
Fall is the season Chinese medicine associates with the Metal Element and the Lung organ. The emotional feelings of sadness naturally arise during the onset of autumn, considered to be the season of letting go. Just as the leaves fall to the earth to decompose, this season often brings up feelings of loss, and is a reminder of the cycle of life and our own human fragility and vulnerability toward death. If our sadness is left unattended, or suppressed, this can lead to depression.
Therefore, with the darkening days and cooler temperatures it is imperative that we be mindful and support our body and mind with some important healthy dietary and lifestyle choices. Here are a few tips to help us manage this transition into autumn.
Consolidating Our Energy For Autumn
Just as we prune fruit from the harvest of summer, this is the time of year we prune away the excesses of summer. It is now time for consolidating our energy, slowing down from the frenetic activity of the summer, and focusing on what is most important, conserving our energy as we prepare for winter. Yes, this means that it is time to curl up by the fire and read a good book!
Our Lungs are vulnerable during the season of fall, which is why it is easy to catch a cold or flu. There are many natural ways to strengthen our immune systems to protect ourselves, including rest, enjoying delicious and healthy food to nourish our Lungs, and making sure we visit our acupuncturist for a tune up and autumn Chinese herbal formula to tonify our immune system.
Visiting our local farmer’s market at this time of year offers plenty of foods to help our bodies fight the effects of polluted air, especially after breathing in the smoke and particulates from all the wild fires this summer. The exposure to pathogens is on the rise with poor air quality.
However, we need not despair as there are plenty of things we can do to counteract these environmental factors especially, with foods from the garden. Root vegetables and spicy foods are known to be protective for the respiratory system.
Root Vegetables to Strengthen the Lungs
- sweet potatoes
Common Culinary Spices to Strengthen the Lung
Research has validated that our grandmother’s remedy of chicken soup really works for fighting respiratory infection. By adding garlic and chilies to this soup, we not only make it more delicious, but potent for protecting our Lungs.
Pears and Asian pears are another traditional remedy for Lung irritation from illness or pollution, and can help soothe a dry cough.
The Nut Harvest Brings Benefits to Lungs
Fresh nuts offer a great source of vitamin E and essential fatty acids (EFA). Vitamin E has been shown in numerous studies to help protect the lungs from the ill effects of breathing contaminants. Look for nuts that grow in your area, and buy them freshly shelled or shell them yourself to get the most benefit.
- hazel nuts
Soaking nuts overnight before roasting, grinding or cooking them into foods will make them easier to digest and increase their nutrient value. Cold-pressed oils such as sesame, olive, walnut, and avocados (available at the farmer’s market in many areas) are other good sources of vitamin E.
Selenium is an immune-stimulating, cancer protective mineral. It is found in many whole foods, especially those grown in selenium-rich soils.
Good sources of Selenium include
- brown rice
Ellagic acid, related to flavonoids, blocks the cancer-causing actions of many airborne pollutants, but is destroyed by heat. It is abundant in raspberries and blackberries and also found in other berries, most fruit, and nuts, such as walnuts and pecans.
Fiber is found in most whole foods and helps to eliminate some pollutants, although excess fiber, as from fiber supplements, can block mineral absorption. This is why I always prefer whole foods over the use of supplements.
Mushrooms: My Favorite Autumn Immune Booster
Medicinal mushrooms have been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. We can use them as mini-vaccines against inflammation, viruses and even cancer.
Let’s look at Reishi. This popular fungus is one of the world’s most favored medicinal mushrooms, and for good reason. Reishi has been shown to aid in weight loss, keep the immune system healthy, and even fights cancer cells.
However, what makes this mushroom unique is its mood enhancing properties, which is why I like to prescribe it during the autumn season when so many struggle with depression and sadness.
Reishi excels at supporting these emotional swings due to one of its constituents called triterpene. These special compounds help calm anxiety, alleviate depression, and promote better sleep. Triterpenes’ positive effect on the nervous system goes beyond this. Reishi has been shown to promote healing and sharpen mental concentration and focus, as well.
Mushroom soup is a great way to add mushrooms to your diet with a flavorful and nourishing meal on a cold rainy day.
Reishi Mushrooms Can Help With
- concentration & focus
As you can see, there are many things we can do to support our immune system, protect our Lungs, and work with our tendency toward sadness and depression this fall. Slowing down, resting, visiting our acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist, and cooking meals that are focused on whole foods from quality sources like our local farmer’s market will help keep us healthy into the fall and winter months ahead!
Yours in Health,
Please contact us with any questions, we are here to offer our support as you navigate this transition into the autumn season.
Congratulations, your new baby has arrived! The days, weeks, and months following the birth of your new bundle of love can be both exciting and joyful. It is also a delicate, and perhaps difficult, time for any new parent. In addition to adjusting to a new heartbeat and member of your family, there is also much postpartum recovery needed for you, the new mama. All of this adds up to a challenging time!
Chinese medicine actually views the postpartum period as the “fourth trimester,” a unique opportunity to restore and rebalance the health and hormones of the mother. In light of this, here are some tips to give you the support you need.
Help During Your Postpartum Recovery
Armed with evidence-based information and a healthy dose of Chinese medicine, new parents can have a quick recovery and a satisfying postpartum period. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be really helpful for women recovering after childbirth. We support mothers at Lotus Leaf Acupuncture & Wellness Center during the postpartum period for a wide range of conditions such as:
- lactation insufficiency
- postpartum depression (PPD)
- urine retention
- c-section recovery
- emotional overwhelm & stress
Postpartum Nutritional Support
A congee is traditional Chinese medicinal porridge made from rice. It is seen as a powerful therapeutic food for strengthening digestion, boosting energy and aiding in the recovery from illness.
A basic congee can be made from using ½ cup of rice to 3 cups of liquid.
This liquid can be water for a very plain congee, milk or nut milks (rice milk or almond milk) for a sweet rice pudding type of congee, or you can use vegetable or chicken stock for a savory congee. You may also prefer to use a ½ water ½ milk/stock mixture depending on your taste preferences.
- The amount of liquid you use will determine the thickness of the porridge, which can be thick like oat porridge or watery like a soup, simply adjust the amount of liquid depending on your preference.
- White rice is usually the grain used in China, however brown rice can be used to give a savory tasting congee.
- For a fast cook: Place all ingredients in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or a Dutch oven and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook at a lively simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice has completely broken down and the mixture is creamy, about 1 hour.
- For the traditional slow cook (my personal preference) use a crock pot and cook overnight, about 8 hours on low heat. You will need to make sure you have enough liquid for this.
- For postpartum support I like to add Gou Qi Zi (Chinese Wolfberry Fruit/Lycium berries) and Da Zao (dates) to nourish Blood, strengthen digestion, and improve energy.
- Eat and enjoy~
Motherwarming for Postpartum Care
This is one of my favorite self-care treatments that can be done in the comfort of your own home. You can read about it here. For now, I will say it has also been one of the most frequently used recovery methods in China applied to the postpartum mother for centuries. Simply apply moxa to your lower belly for 5 -15 minutes a day and receive the benefits of:
- helping the organs of the abdomen recover after pregnancy
- increasing breast milk supply
- healing scars from cesarean sections
- decreasing abdominal pain after birth
- providing the mother with increased feelings of well-being, stamina and strength
Research: Acupuncture for Postpartum Recovery
The Lotus Effect
Have you ever seen a lotus leaf after a rainstorm? Often it will look like jewels of water are resting on the leaves. These “jewels”, or droplets of water, pick-up particles of dirt as they roll over the surface of the leaf, cleansing the leaf so that it can maintain its powerful process of photosynthesis, converting the sunlight into the energy it needs to thrive.
This is known as the Lotus Effect, and is how we envision our work with our patients, helping each person to turn obstacles into opportunities and nourish their destiny.
“I have noticed that people are dealing too much with the negative, with what is wrong. They do not touch enough on what is not wrong. . . . Why not try the other way, to look into the patient and to see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
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Lotus Leaf Acupuncture & Wellness Center
909 Harris Ave., Suite 202A,
Bellingham, WA 98225