Fall is now upon us and that means falling leaves, cooler weather, Halloween costumes and of course those dreaded colds and flus. During this time of year I treat many people for their runny noses, sore throats and coughs and thought it would be beneficial to give a few tips from Chinese Medicine on how to stay healthy this season.
In Chinese Medicine there are five main elements that not only govern the world around us, but also our bodies within. Fall time is associated with the metal element which corresponds to the Lungs in Chinese Medicine. Traditionally, humans would use metal tools in order to perform many functions such as defending themselves from attack, reaping the crops for the harvest, or pruning back the plants in preparation for the winter. These functions are all attributed to the Lungs as well. The lungs are in charge of your bodies defenses and must mount a proper immune response and they must harvest the oxygen and nutrients from the air through the process of respiration. They must also prune back the waste material and rid the body of carbon dioxide and also rid other waste products through the paired organ of the Large Intestine. Just as the tress must shed their leaves each year so must your body shed unwanted and used material on a regular basis.
Chinese Medicine uses acupuncture, herbs and nutrition to support all these functions of the Lungs in order to maintain a healthy system and fight off any viruses that may be trying to take hold. First of all, receiving regular acupuncture if you’re prone to getting sick or if you are already experiencing symptoms can boost your immune system and reduce the time it takes to kick that cold. Secondly, there are many very classic herbal formulas that have been used in Chinese Medicine for centuries that support the immune system, actively fight off bacteria and viruses and reduce any symptoms such as cough, sore throat or a runny nose. Finally, proper nutrition is essential for maintaining your bodies immune system and can even reduce any symptoms that you may be experiencing. Some specific foods such as mushrooms are great for boosting the immune system and keeping your body strong. Apples, pears and almonds are all fruits that are harvested in the fall and extremely beneficial to the lungs. During this time of year, especially in Colorado, the lungs are prone to dryness and we easily get that dry sore throat, sticky sputum that is difficult to cough up and causes irritation and cough. Foods such as apples, pears and almonds help moisten the lungs, soothe that dry and irritated throat and reduce coughing. A traditional recipe from China calls for an Asian pear cut in half and scoop out a small section in the middle of each half. Fill with slivered almonds, rock sugar and cinnamon and place in the oven at 400 degrees until soft. (If rock sugar is not available use good quality local honey.)
So, remember while you’re enjoying those beautiful fall colors and trying to stay healthy to eat healthily and treat any symptoms that come up before it manifests into a severe cold.