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In Chinese Medicine, Autumn is the season associated with the lungs and large intestines and with the element of metal. This year in particular our lungs seem to be put to many challenges – COVID-19, allergies, massive levels of air pollution and smoke, and now, we are heading into flu season.

The essence of this time is one of letting go (large intestine) and of inspiration (lungs). It carries the emotion of grief. Nature exemplifies this beautifully, with the turning from the abundance of the summer to her bounty with harvest time, leaves turn color and fall, winds blow in cool weather and rains, clearing the air. Darkness increases.

What can we do to support a similar energy in our own lives? How can we nourish our lungs? What inspires us?  Let’s go out into the forest and breathe in the oxygen rich air. Let’s dance on the beach. How about our intestines?  What do we have that needs to be let go of? Let’s clean up our diet, give up sugar or finally clean that garage or closet. Let’s write a good-bye letter to someone we have lost.

Foods that nourish the lungs and large intestines are rich in bioflavinoids:  the dark greens, deep oranges and reds of the Fall. It is not surprising to learn that apples are rich in vitamin C which is vital for your immune system as well as high in fiber (pectin) and will help detox the intestines.  Garlic is a natural antibiotic/antiviral and rich in sulfur which helps your body get rid of toxins.  Oregano, eucalyptus, thyme and sage are all wonderful antimicrobials. Thyme relaxes spastic  lungs and sage dries up excessive secretions. A basic tea recipe for these herbs is to add 1 teaspoon of herb to 1 cup of boiling water. Cover and let it steep for 10 minutes. Sweeten with honey if you like. Drink up to 3 cups per day. Sage is drying so it is not advisable if you are breast feeding.

One of the most vital substances for both your lungs and your large intestines is water. Water naturally thins the mucous, lubricates the bowels and flushes your kidneys. A good rule of thumb for adequate water is to drink ½ your weight in ounces.

Hopefully, this Fall will bring easier times. But whatever happens, let’s have courage, be inspired. Let’s take a deep breath and step into it, letting go of the pain and fear and turmoil of these past six months. Let’s find new ways to be together, to support each other even in our differences. Let’s find hope.

By Jennifer Means, ND, LAc

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