This season is for moving on, clearing up and letting go, says Emma Cannon
Autumn is the time of year to turn our attention to the immune system. In Chinese medicine it is the time to take care of the lungs and large intestines (also known as the metal element). Our lungs are our first line of defense and they are directly related to the skin; in fact they are seen as the third skin. So the first way to protect the lungs is to take care of our skin. The lungs and large intestine’s functions are all about taking in and letting go. So on an emotional level it is a good time to re-evaluate that which serves us, and that which we need to let go of. Spend time journalling reflecting on these things. Think about value, usefulness, beauty, new experience and then think about habits that you need to break and long held emotions that you might need to let go of now.
5 tips for autumn
1) Beneath the skin is our wei qi; this is our protective qi that protects us from invading pathogens. Think immunity. Skin brushing stimulates the wei qi and applying oils helps to keep the skin well toned and exfoliated. This is an excellent practice for the autumn. I love a salt scrub myself. Maybe it’s my seaside roots but one of my favourite treatments is being scrubbed with salt and wrapped in seaweed. My body just soaks up the minerals from this plant. You might prefer massage or taking care of your skin at home; however you do it, it will help your body’s defenses.
2) Walk in nature. Wrap up and enjoy the bright days as the weather changes. Recently autumn has seen some of the most beautiful days, with bright sunshine and a multitude of colours in nature. Breathe it in, it will strengthen your immunity by reducing stress. Nature is the greatest healer we have.
3) Look after your gut health. The large intestine is the gateway to our immunity, and the topic’s very fashionable at the moment. But I remember the first week of my Chinese medicine training when we were introduced to the lung and large intestine and their link to our immune system. Make sure your gut is in good working order, that you evacuate regularly and the stools are healthy. Take a probiotic and go to an acupuncturist if you have concerns about this.
4) Ditch the juices and make friends with herbs; they are nature’s little helpers and they are plentiful. Use fresh herbs in cooking, and drink herbal tea.
5) The lung and large intestine form the metal element and so are concerned with all things aesthetic. Make sure your environment is pleasing and organised and ready for the long winter. Clean windows, wash curtains and set yourself some projects that will make your home nicer. Mend broken fences and tend to long overdue DIY projects – get your house in order. Similarly in your diet, make your food pleasing to the eye; spend time choosing your meals and pick things that are natural and look nice. Fill your senses with beauty in all aspects of your life and let go of things that are neither beautiful or useful.
Emma is an integrated women’s health expert, registered acupuncturist and author emmacannon.co.uk
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