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Autumn: The Harvest and Letting Go

Thrive Carolinas / Acupuncture  / Autumn: The Harvest and Letting Go

Autumn: The Harvest and Letting Go

Dr. Scott Greenapple

In traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) we look at seasons and consider them as elements.

With each change of the season, there are elements and meridians that correspond.  We look at the meridians and elements and how they tend to have a direct correlation to both the physical and emotional aspects of our lives.
We are now going from the relaxed carefree world of summer to the more serious and introspective energies that are associated with autumn. Fall is the metal element and the meridians involved are the lungs and the large intestine. This is the time of year for organization and setting boundaries.  Finish up projects you have started in spring and summer.  Focus on internal and cultivate your body-mind practice becoming more introspective.  The energy associated with the lungs is letting go.  Become mindful of letting go of anything we may be holding onto, making room for new experiences.
The emotion attached to the lung is grief and sadness. On the “healthier side” of the emotion, the lung is also associated with clear thinking and communication, openness to new ideas, positive self-image and ability to let go and be happy. When we let go, we can create courage, virtue, and strength in our immune system as well as our emotional well being.  This is when acupuncture or Qi Gong is needed most.  When the energy is stuck, stagnant or out of balance, that is when the negative emotion or physical ailment can come out. You may have issues dealing with excessive grief, difficulty coping with change, or a prolonged sense of sadness. You may be holding onto and reliving the past, playing the same tune over and over in your head instead of living in the present.
The lung meridian is a Yin meridian and controls the lung itself, the skin, the arm/shoulder, and neck region. The air comes in through the nose and nourishes the lung and helps with cellular respiration.  When out of balance, people tend to have arm/shoulder pain, neck pain, and stiffness as well as headaches. This is the time of year to get colds, sore throats, and sinus issues if out of balance.  Think of Yin as substance and Yang as a function. Air and oxygen is the substance that nourishes and where we get energy or Qi.

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The large intestine is the Yang meridian associated with the metal element.  It is responsible for the end of the detoxification process and elimination.  Fresh air comes in with breathing and the lungs and nourishes us and the large intestine clears and detoxifies the body and detoxifies our thoughts.  These are the principles of Yin and Yang with the lung and large intestine.
When the energy or Qi is moving freely, the physical and emotional aspects have more of a positive and healing effect.

Below are some ways to stay balanced during the fall/metal element season including foods that you should add and consume to your daily diet.

  1. Many of my patients come in whenever the season changes to get balanced with specific points relating to the meridians involved for that season.
  2. Let go of negativity. Just becoming aware is a good start.
  3. Try taking a deep breath for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 5-7 seconds and breathe out for 8 seconds.  This clears the negativity and resets your sympathetic and parasympathetic system for stress reduction.  (Also aides in insomnia).
  4. Wear a scarf. Fall is the time for wind.  In Chinese medicine, the wind is responsible for around 100 different types of disease.  This time of year, colds, coughs and flu.


Eat less cooling and more warming foods. Soups are great for warming, digestion and immune support, getting ready for the long cold winter months. Try adding some of the following: Garlic, sweet potatoes, cabbage, ginger, turmeric, onion, cinnamon, pears, walnuts, mizo, yogurt, bananas, apples, pears.  Think of foods that will moisten and warm the cool dry air that is invading the body.
Do not forget to get out and walk or exercise.  Try to relax with meditations and Qi Gong.
For any questions on acupuncture, Qi Gong or mindfulness meditation , feel free to call the office or send an email.  Remember, energy goes where the Qi flows.
Qi Gong is a simple practice that can yield some profound results.
Remember, the first line of health care is self care.

Stephen Fogg

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