It's that time of year when nights become longer, colors change, and nature shows us the beauty in letting go. Autumn is a season where we find ourselves a little more serious than the carefree energy of summer. In traditional Chinese medicine, this is a time for putting things into order, communication, setting limits, and protecting boundaries. It's also a time for beginning more introspective and indoor projects.
The Lung and Large Intestine are the internal organs related to autumn. The Lung is associated with the feeling of sadness or a difficulty in letting go. It is considered a tender organ, meaning it is the uppermost internal organ and very susceptible to wind and cold. The Lungs also control the circulation of our protective energy, similar to immunity, which helps defend us against colds and flus.
Pressing at the Lung's source point on the wrist is a wonderful way to help with the transition from summer to autumn, as well as to strengthen the functions of the Lungs. To find this point, have your palms facing up and locate the slight depression at the wrist crease closer to your thumb. The point is between the radial artery and the tendon (abductor policis longus). Press here on both wrists for a few minutes per day. Some indications for this point are cough, asthma, bronchitis, shortness of breath, wheezing, or heavy feeling in the chest.
If you're feeling like this isn't enough for you or your finding it difficult to let something go, schedule an appointment with your acupuncturist to tune up your energy and provide extra support!
Why do I always wake around 3:00 am? Why is it so difficult to get up in the mornings? Why is it harder to fall asleep after a large dinner? While googling these questions yields interesting reasons, such as stress, supernatural powers, or demonic possession, they can also be answered with the traditional Chinese medicine body clock.
The TCM body clock reflects the cyclical ebb and flow of energy in your body over a 24 hour period. Energy moves in two hour intervals through each organ system. From 3:00 am until 3:00 pm, the energy is focused in the outward moving organs whose functions reflect movement, digestion, and elimination. From 3:00pm until 3:00 am, the energy moves inward to support the internal organs associated with rejuvenating and maintaining your body, such as filtering waste and cleansing.
Best time to... Best time to...
3:00-5:00am Lung Sleep deeply 3:00-5:00pm Bladder Drink tea and work
5:00-7:00am L. Intestine Wake and drink H2O 5:00-7:00pm Kidney Eat dinner
7:00-9:00am Stomach Eat breakfast 7:00-9:00pm Pericardium Go on a date
9:00-11:00am Spleen Work and workout 9:00-11:00pm Triple Warmer Get ready for bed
11:00-1:00pm Heart Eat lunch with friends 11:00-1:00am Gallbladder Be asleep
1:00-3:00pm S. Intestine Organize and problem solve 1:00-3:00am Liver Sleep deep and dream
Tips based on the TCM body clock:
The chart shows the optimal time of each organ system. Also, when one organ system is at its peak energy, the organ system 12 hours away is at its weakest. The goal is to plan your daily activities to maximize an organ system’s energy while avoiding actions that strain the organ system on the opposite side of the spectrum. Here are some lifestyle habits to help harmonize your energy:
· Liver: During the night, the liver stores and detoxes the blood. Too much alcohol, prescription drugs, or poor diet habits can overwhelm the Liver energy and cause you to wake during these hours. The weakest organ at this time is the Small Intestine, which is responsible for the assimilation of key nutrients from food and drink. Eating a heavy meal late at night means that food is not digested well and the Liver is less efficient at filtering the blood. Therefore, the more time that passes between the last meal of the day and 1:00am, the better the Liver will be at accomplishing its functions.
· Large Intestine: Make sure to give yourself enough time in the morning to allow for the normal elimination of the large intestine. Going on a brisk walk and drinking lots of warm water help facilitate the process.
· Stomach / Small Intestine: Try to eat heavier meals at breakfast and lunch to utilize the expanding and warming energy as it peaks at 12:00pm. These earlier, larger meals help to deliver nutrients to the Small Intestine when it is strongest, aiding in digestion and absorption.
· Kidney: The Kidney energy is aligned with the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands secrete hormones that help us wake with energy in the mornings. The Kidney energy is weakest from 5:00-7:00am, which can explain why people with depleted Kidney energy have a difficult time waking in the mornings.
Another way to maximize this energy is to incorporate acupuncture and Chinese herbs into your lifestyle. Acupuncture and herbs can help to balance your energy, creating a smooth transition of energy within your day.
Autumn is a time when nature rids itself of what is no longer needed. Leaves fall from the trees to compost and enrich the soil, ensuring that the upcoming spring will have the nutrients needed to flourish. It is also a time to harvest the abundance that grew during the summer to store up for the winter.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, the season of autumn is a time to organize, work hard, and finish the projects you began in the spring and summer. This is because autumn is associated with the metal energy, governing the mind, organization, setting and protecting boundaries, and order. While the summer was spent in more external activities, the autumn is a time where we tend to be more introspective. It is a time to contemplate our lives and prepare for the winter season ahead.
Emotionally, autumn is associated with grief and sadness. Therefore, it is important to let go of lingering negative emotions, which can impact health more strongly during this time.
Physically, autumn corresponds to the lungs, skin, and large intestine. These organs are responsible for respiration, digestion, and elimination. Common imbalances manifest as frequent colds and sinus infections, shortness of breath, dryness, skin issues, and constipation.
A beautiful aspect of traditional Chinese medicine is as a tool to live harmoniously with the seasons. To fully enjoy and benefit from the energy of autumn, consider a traditional Chinese medicine treatment.
Here are five tips to help get you through allergy season this spring.
If these tips don't do the trick, acupuncture and Chinese herbs are excellent at reducing or eliminating seasonal allergies, as well as boosting immunity to prevent a recurrence of symptoms.
Thoughts and practical tips to help you look and feel your best based in the wisdom of Chinese medicine.
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