Autumn is the season of letting go. We watch as the trees release their beautiful but ‘ready to fall’ foliage. There is a sadness to it, but a gracefulness as well. The same energy is asked of us, as humans, in Autumn. We must let go of what is no longer needed in order to consolidate our resources. This is not a time for emotional or physical constipation. And yet, some of us find ourselves extra congested come autumn, congested with emotions, with phlegm and with poop! Why is this and how do we fix it?
Autumn, in TCM, belongs to the metal element which is represented in the body by the Lung and Large Intestine. These are both involved in refinement and elimination, key functions associated with the metal element and the fall season. The Lungs filter the air we breathe, obtaining purified oxygen while releasing carbon dioxide. The large intestine extracts the last bit of usable moisture from the body’s waste products before their final elimination.
These organs also deal with grief. Sadness and loss are the emotional themes of the season. Mourning is a fact of life and one we must face with bravery, love, and patience but it is not meant to be a chronic condition. Emotional constipation can lead to a variety of more serious and physical health threats. Honoring loss also means letting it go. To everything there is a season.
Nasal congestion is also a potential seasonal issue. The lungs are said to open into the nose, so when our lungs are not ‘letting go’ properly we may feel ‘blocked up’ in our sinuses. Phlegm can also be a result of a weak earth element (digestive function) which may be causing buildup in the lungs, as the lungs are considered to be the offspring of the digestive organs and directly affected by them. Practice breathwork for lung function and avoid cold, raw and damp (such as dairy) foods to help prevent the buildup of phlegm.
Intestinal constipation is also one of the main health concerns of the season. The large intestine is designed for preparing the waste for release and then actually delivering it out of the body. There are many challenges to this system, especially with this change of season. During this internal pull, there may be a temptation to hold on to what is not essential while drawing in resources. That pull can actually inhibit peristalsis, the natural rhythmic movement of our intestines that guides the stool out of the body. Autumn is also a time of dryness, as the humidity of summer is drained out of the air and pulled back into the earth. This ‘drying out’ energy can be overdone in our intestines, leading to a dry constipation.
Combat Constipation with:
- The practice of letting go of stuck emotions requires awareness of emotional energies and time and space to process them. Give it a go!
- Abdominal massage: You can use clockwise circular motions on your lower belly.
- Fiber: eat your prunes! The fiber binds to toxins in the intestines and gives the intestinal walls something to work with to assist peristalsis.
- Stay hydrated: With Autumn being the season of dryness, keep a healthy fluid balance in the intestines with daily water intake and occasional aloe vera juice for internal hydration.
- Acupuncture and Chinese herbs: Acupuncture is fantastic at helping to balance patterns associated with constipation. There are also Chinese herbal formulas that can help alleviate intestinal dryness, as well as other formulas geared to other causes. These should be used with guidance from a qualified herbalist.
Let us help you flow and let go with the season, schedule an appointment to assist your body in making the shift!