Fall is upon us y'all! I've said it before, but it's worth repeating, season changes are the #1 time when we fall victim to illness or just general malaise (feeling yucky and run-down). It's the time of year when kids - or ourselves - are falling back into a school routine - or basically returning to more of a regimented and indoor schedule post-summer. The leaves change color and for many, this is a beloved season. Fall weather likes to fool us by wild variances from freezing/cold to windy and warm/sunny - often all in the same day. Not only does this confuse our bodies, but it can leave us feeling completely unsettled. I typically feel this way in the fall - I enjoy the change of seasons, but dread a long, cold winter - which may potentially lie ahead. It's all about mind-set and acceptance of nature's rhythms.
*Accept & embrace autumn for what it is and represents. It's the end of summer and we have collected, foraged and enjoyed outside time for many glorious months. Now we appreciate the bounty of harvest and understand that all things must go through a cycle of death and quiet in order to be re-born in the Spring.
*Continue to exercise and get outdoors. However, this is a time to modify or adjust your exercise routine accordingly. Exercise should be more moderate and restorative than what would be appropriate in the summer. There is decreased amount of daylight, and therefore, it is encouraged to spend more time inside and enjoying pursuits such as reading, writing, cooking, baking, sewing or having friend/family gatherings indoors that revolve around conversation, board games or enjoying a meal. When going outdoors, be sure to cover-up. I know this may sound counter-intuitive if there is a "warm" fall day or if you are going out to exercise, but according to Chinese medical theory, we are MUCH more susceptible to catching a cold if we run around outside with damp/wet clothing (think of that damp/coldness going straight inside your body and causing a cold). I know, it seems like an old-wives tale, but there is an element of truth to this idea! Scarves are a GREAT idea during the fall, as it protects the back of the neck, where pathogens like to directly strike the body - according to the wise Chinese sages (think dudes with long white beards who used to spend all of their time thinking and mulling these ideas over). And let's be honest - scarves are cute this time of year!
*Eat with the season - which is always applicable - but right now this means: pumpkins, squashes, gourds - and I cannot emphasize enough - eat the seeds of all of these! They are SO nutritious and arguably the best part of squash veggies, especially when baked. Also in season: apples, asian pears, broccoli, brussels sprouts, belgian endive, butter lettuce, kale, califlower, cranberries, garlic, ginger, key limes, kohlrabi, mushrooms, spinach, pomegranate, sweet potatoes, swiss chard and turnips. Interestingly, most if not all of these fruits and vegetables in Chinese medicine build and support the organs that coincidentally support the function of the immune system.
*Drink ginger root tea. This one is pretty simple and straight-forward. If you prefer, you can buy ginger "tea" prepared in tea-bags in just about any coffee/tea section of the grocery store. On the other-hand, buying fresh ginger-root from the grocery store is just as easy and quite frankly - more powerful and potent - a.k.a. more beneficial. If you have a way of preparing whole-leaf tea, you can simply wash a piece of ginger root (leave the skin on for more medicinal benefit) and grate the ginger root with a cheese grater. You can also thinly slice the ginger root. Place into a strainer/tea pot and let sit for 5 minutes in almost boiling water. If you prefer, you can sweeten with raw, local honey (this also helps with allergies and soothes the stomach/throat). Ginger root is a power-house in Chinese medicine. Feel free to toss some sliced into soups, stews and stir fries to infuse extra flavor.
*Notice what your body is telling you and PAY ATTENTION! All we have is our health and without it, we're down for the count, unproductive and not able to be there for our families and loved-ones who need us. At the first sign of illness - itchy throat, achy neck, head ache, malaise, fatigue, fever/chills - do not hesitate to get in for an acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture is more effective at the first sign of symptoms. Also important - good quality sleep and - chicken noodle soup or Pho. Once again, mom's wisdom is always right! Also, bundle up and stay warm, even if you are feeling hot.
Here's to your health and a splendid fall season (and UK football season if that's your thing!) - Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist at Bluegrass Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky.
About the Author:
Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist, currently practicing in the gorgeous, horse capital of the world: Lexington, Kentucky.