Autumn is in full swing. Those of us living in Southern California may not experience the more drastic changes occurring in other parts of the country, but the leaves continue to change, days shorten, temperatures drop, and the air often becomes drier. As we leave the heat of summer and prepare to enter the cold of winter, it becomes important to adjust our lifestyles in order to maintain optimal health.
While most people typically turn toward acupuncture for pain relief, they don't often realize Traditional Oriental Medicine has a vast amount of information and tools to keep the body healthy all year round. In Oriental Medicine, each of the 4 seasons is associated with an organ pair. Autumn is considered to be the time of the lungs and the large intestine. This season often impacts the respiratory system leading to cough, bronchitis, and asthma. People may also notice skin dryness and constipation if they fail to nourish their bodies properly. Here are a few simple tips to stay healthy this autumn.
Eat For The Season
Warm. Warm. Warm. As the temperature cools most people begin to reach for those jackets, but many people don't realize it's equally important to keep the body warm on the inside. Now is the time to stop eating and drinking cold things such as salads, cereal, iced beverages, and smoothies. These foods can be hard on the digestive system all year round, but it's especially important to refrain from consuming them during the colder months. Look more toward warming foods such as soups and warm teas.
Instead of getting your daily intake of vegetables in a cold, damp salad, why not try roasting or steaming them? Sweet potatoes, squash, and beets are just a few vegetables currently in season. Websites like this one will make it easy for you to find which fruits/vegetables are currently in season. There are even apps for your phone which put this information right at your fingertips when you are grocery shopping.
Keep Your Neck Warm and Protected
Time to bundle up. In Chinese Medicine several acupuncture points are located on the back of the neck. Exposing this region to wind is viewed as an easy way to introduce illness. While most people don't often correlate their recent illness with exposure to wind, some people will notice they get a stiff neck from being out on a windy day. Others will note that they tend to get sick when they are exposed to air conditioning. Both of these situations can be remedied by having a scarf handy. It's also a good idea to use a scarf when you know you are going to be exposed to extreme temperature changes such as leaving the gym after a strenuous workout and stepping out into a windy night.
If you happen to be out and about on a windy day or night, and then start to notice the beginning stages of illness, now is a great time to book an appointment for acupuncture. By catching the 'external phase' of the illness, acupuncture and herbs can help your body fight the illness before it moves deeper into your system.
Time For Rest and Nourishing Activites
As the days begin to shorten it's good to start adjusting your sleep patterns according to light changes. If possible, try to get to bed earlier and awaken earlier. However, if adjusting your sleep schedule is not a possibility, just work on making the amount of sleep you get a priority. Adequate sleep helps to naturally keep your immune system strong. Remove any sleep interruptions that are under your control (eg. pets jumping on the bed, light from falling asleep with the TV on, etc.). Many people find getting a full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep impossible. If this sounds familiar to you, strive to get at least 6 hours. When you lack sleep it becomes more important that you nurture your immunity in other ways. Eating healthy becomes extra important as does looking toward things like acupuncture and herbs to support your body.
Autumn is also the time to start focusing on more nourishing activities. As we head into winter and the days/nights get colder, it is not the time of year to start that intense juice cleanse you've been thinking about doing. In Oriental Medicine we look at spring as the season more appropriate for deeper cleansing. However, fall and spring are both pivot months (summer to winter and winter to summer). During these seasons change is abundant, and many people begin to feel stagnant. If you are feeling the need to cleanse, focus on a more gentle, nourishing approach. Give yourself a week where you eliminate processed foods, caffeine, and things like alcohol from your diet. Focus on a diet rich in organic, seasonal vegetables (roasted, steamed, or in soups). Drink plenty of fluids such as water and organic tea. Activities such as tai chi, massage, acupuncture, yoga, and meditation are wonderfully nourishing activities to consider if you are looking to do something healthy for your body this season.
Wishing you a healthy autumn season!
The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional. The information and opinions presented are intended for educational purposes only and they are not intended to be medical advice. It is advised you contact your healthcare provider prior to starting any type of program or protocol, starting or stopping supplements/herbs/medications, making any major dietary changes, or beginning any new form of physical activity. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your health care provider before using products or protocols based on this content.
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