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Tips for Optimal Fall Health

by Dalite Sancic, DACM, L.Ac.




As Autumn aptly approaches, we see the leaves begin to turn and feel the crisp morning air. It’s time for apple crisps, sweaters, pumpkin anything and evenings by the fire.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) it is a time that is associated with the Metal Element, in which the organ systems are the Lung and Large Intestine. Both of these organs are known as the ‘organs of elimination’ in TCM, eliminating germs and viruses that cause illness. From a conventional perspective, only recently are the implications of the microbial importance really understood. In a short and sweet explanation, the bacteria that live in our digestive system or gut (also called gut-microbiome) feeds the lining of the intestinal wall and the bacteria of the lungs help to balance the immune response via that lining of the intestine. Such an amazing link between the Lung and Large Intestine which Traditional Chinese medicine has known for thousands of years. Another interesting connection of note is that in eastern medicine, the skin is a reflection of the health of the Lungs as an internal organ.

A few of the other important aspects of the Metal Element:

  • This system regulates the opening and closing of the pores - part of an aspect of the immune function. For example, when our immune system is compromised, there is abnormal sweating.

  • The emotion associated with Metal is grief and sadness. Fall is the perfect time for clearing out, letting go.

  • When Metal is in balance the attributes are: mental clarity, organized, disciplined, calmness, refinement and maturity.

  • When Metal is out of balance the tendency is: grief-stricken, overly critical, lowered immunity, respiratory or skin disorders, and bowel difficulties.

  • Pungent flavored foods such as garlic, onion and radish help support the Metal Element.

  • Breath work is a wonderful way to move the Lung energy, support respiration and elimination.

Guidelines to support your Metal Element this fall.

The quality of your diet contributes significantly to your lung health. Along with nutrients and vitamins, ensure your diet includes foods that are rich in antioxidants as well as vegetables (e.g. cauliflower, cabbage, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc.). Leafy greens that contain high levels of chlorophyll are considered natural detoxifiers as they have the ability to flush out toxins from your body. Also eating anti-inflammatory foods (e.g. walnuts, turmeric, cherries, lentils, beans, etc.) can further be highly beneficial in improving the functioning of your lungs. Avoid mucous forming foods such as sugar and dairy. At this time of year it is important to start warming up or eating the majority of your food cooked rather than the raw diet we enjoy in the summer season.


Create and utilize a practice of letting go. Physically and mentally remove clutter but cleaning out spaces and giving away things that are not of use or importance, shedding what no longer serves us. Other examples are cleaning out a closet, winding down a relationship or ending a habit.


In TCM theory, “wind is the cause of 1,000 diseases”. Wind enters the body at the back of the neck- “the wind gate”- and causes conditions that develop quickly and enter the lungs- like colds, flus, headaches, and sore throats. Temperature fluctuations that are typically seen this time of year make us even more susceptible to wind. Remembering to wear a scarf or hoodie offers extra protection against wind invasions.


The climate associated with fall is dryness. While the lungs mostly prefer to be dry, too much dryness disrupts proper lung functioning. Chapped skin, a scratchy throat, and dry nasal passageways are signs of lung dryness. To nourish the lungs and keep the membranes healthy (which is essential for optimal immunity), make sure to stay hydrated. Other ways to soothe lung dryness: sip honey in hot water, eat pears and foods like okra and eggs, use a humidifier, and lather up with almond or coconut oil.


Wei qi is the outermost layer of qi that circulates on the surface of our body, just beneath the skin, protecting us from wind invasions and airborne pathogens. Wei Qi translates to Defensive Qi, and it’s controlled by the Lungs. This is the first line defense of our immune system, which can become vulnerable during seasonal shifts. Acupuncture, herbal medicine, and essential oils reinforce the Wei qi and strengthen our defenses.



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