Autumn: Season of the Metal Element

October 29th, 2010

by Don Cornwell

Chinese Medicine associates each season with an element and its related organs. Autumn is Metal element. The yin Metal organ and meridian is Lung. The Lung’s yang counterpart is Large Intestine. During autumn, the Lung and Large Intestine are more susceptible to imbalances. With the change in temperature, one is more prone to respiratory conditions, such as colds and flu. Wei qi is the type of qi associated with the Lung. It is defined as protective qi, qi that protects us from exogenous pathogenic factors, such as wind, cold and damp. This type of qi can become challenged during autumn.

The emotion associated with the Metal element is grief. An obvious grief that affects many people is the loss of summer, the loss of long days of sunlight. Other causes of grief from our perception of life experiences may also arise more strongly during this time.

The Spirits associated with the Metal element are the Po, the Corporeal Spirits. These Spirits are said to reside in the Earth and are associated with survival. Autumn precedes the harshness of winter and is a time when preparations need to be made to insure our survival. In agrarian societies, these include winterizing one’s home and making sure one has gathered enough food to make it through a long, dark winter.

Some things we can do to more healthfully flow into the change of autumn is to use our Lungs by being more aerobically active. To counteract shorter periods of daylight, we can make sure we get outside to soak in the light and enjoy the out of doors during this time of beautiful weather and changing colors.

If a cold develops, there are several Chinese Herbal Patent formulas that can be helpful. Sinus congestion can be helped with Bi Yan Pian. General cold symptoms are aided by Gan Mao Ling. Sore throats are helped by Chuan Xin Lian. Phlegm is reduced with Ching Fei Yi Huo Pien, but this remedy is contraindicated for women who are pregnant, as it causes a strong downward movement of qi. This remedy should be reduced or discontinued if diarrhea develops.

But no organ or Element exists in isolation. Just as each season is preceded by another season and itself transforms into the season that follows it, each organ is preceded and followed by others along the Creation Cycle of the elements. So, to enable our Lungs to be healthy, we have to consider other organs that might create difficulties with the Lungs.

An obvious organ that can impair the health of the Lung is the Spleen. The Spleen is the Mother of the Lung, being Earth Element, which creates Metal. Also, the Spleen is the initial organ associated with water metabolizing or excretion. If the Spleen is qi deficient, it will not have enough strength to eliminate all the dampness it should. This dampness then gets sent to the Lung and stored there. The dampness in the Lung can lower the Lung qi and thus make us more susceptible to respiratory illnesses. Tonifying Spleen qi can be aided by improving one’s diet, as the Spleen is also responsible for digesting food. If we have a poor diet, more qi is required from the Spleen to digest it. A guideline to choosing the proper foods to eat is to notice if you feel tired, bloated or gassy after eating. If so, begin to notice which foods cause these reactions, then decrease or eliminate these foods from your diet. Taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in water or juice, once or twice daily can also aid digestion and thus decrease the dampness that would otherwise get sent to the Lung.

The organ relationships can be taken another step by looking at the organ that often causes the Spleen to be imbalanced, the Liver. Liver is Wood element, and thus is the Grandparent of the Spleen. Because the Liver tends toward excessive energy, called Liver qi stagnation, it typically overacts on the Spleen, like Wood penetrating the Earth. Overacting means that the Liver overly controls or subdues the Spleen, pushing it toward qi deficiency, which pushes the Spleen and then the Lung toward dampness. Thus, in an attempt to make the Lung healthy, one may also focus on helping the Liver to be healthy. The Liver is associated with frustration and anger when it is excessive. Finding creativity and expression of emotions can greatly aid the Liver in its movement toward health. Avoiding fatty foods, alcohol and recreational drugs also assist this process. The Polarity Therapy Liver Flush can be a direct aid to cleansing the Liver. This improvement in the Liver cascades down to assist digestion, for which the Spleen is responsible, which reduces dampness, which assists the Lung qi.

The Liver Flush can be taken in the morning before breakfast. You may not need to eat for a couple of hours or until lunchtime.

The recipe for the Polarity Therapy Liver flush is—

  • One cup of fruit juice
  • One to two tablespoons of cold pressed oil
  • One to four cloves of garlic, or one to two slices of ginger root
  • Blend and drink
  • Follow with a cup of hot herbal tea. Ginger root tea is good if you tend toward feeling cold. Mint tea can be used if you tend toward feeling hot.

Thus, in seeking Lung health during its season of autumn, health for the Spleen and the Liver must also be assisted.

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