Autumn / Fall Seasonal Health

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Autumn correlates with the Metal element, and the Lung/Large Intestine organ system, which (you guessed it) governs breathing and digestion, among other things. Paying particular attention to these systems during Autumn helps us to maintain health.

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Physical Wellbeing

At this time, looking after our respiratory system is really important, when the weather can be dry and cold, causing dry coughs, colds, and autumn allergies to surface. We can do this by getting plenty of fresh air, drinking plenty of water, and keeping warm outside.

Emotional Wellbeing

Grief and sadness ‘injures’ the Lung and causes Qi to dissolve and weaken. Think...

“I’m falling to pieces”, feeling ‘flat’ or ‘empty’.

Those with Lung issues also tend to feel hard done by all the time and unfairly treated, always blaming others for how things have turned out. Although we can’t always control everything that happens to us, we can put effort into changing our circumstances and helping others, instead of focusing on how we’ve been wronged. 

In Autumn, we may feel sadness and a sense of nostalgia for the summer, or things we didn’t get a chance to do this year. Some useful ways I have found to help process these feelings are; journaling, meditation, mindfulness, breathing exercises, and gentle exercises such as Qigong for the Lung and Large Intestine system and yoga for the breath. 

As nature begins to slow down, cool down, and prepare for winter, we too should be winding down and preparing for the stillness and dark nights. Autumn is a time of transformation, and letting go of things that might be holding back our growth. It’s the perfect time to declutter your home, PC, phone, and make time for some more personal development reading. It’s also a great time to plant some seeds of change for the spring, contemplate on what you’d like to do differently next year. 

Signs your Lung system is in need of some TLC

Common symptoms of a struggling Lung/Large Intestine system (in the traditional Chinese medical sense, not the anatomical lung, although they do share similar roles) are:

  • Asthma, bronchitis
  • Frequent coughs and colds
  • Constipation, IBS symptoms
  • Psoriasis, eczema, or dry skin flare-ups
  • Low self-esteem
  • OCD type behaviours and perfectionism
  • Feeling down in the dumps, melancholy

Diet & Lifestyle Choices that Support the Lung

Person reading a book
Autumn Lifestyle
  • Declutter at home
  • Make time to focus on letting go of past issues and grudges
  • Spend time on your personal and spiritual development, read the books you’ve been eyeing up
  • Invest in yourself
  • Spend time in nature, always keep warm and layer up - wear a scarf!
  • Exercise gently, preferably outdoors
  • Let go and trust things will work out for you in time

Autumn Food

  • Eat warm meals, drink warm teas
  • Use pungent foods and spices such as garlic, onion, ginger, and chili
  • Eat plenty of root veggies, and white vegetables such as cauliflower, parsnip, and turnip
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Meal Ideas

Breakfast ideas:
  • Porridge; with cinnamon, honey, nuts, seeds, berries, pears
  • Egg on toast, scrambled eggs, etc, baked beans, sweet potato
  • Warm tea (no cold fruit juices!)
Lunch ideas:
  • Soups; potato and leek, carrot and ginger, onion
  • Slow-cooked or stewed dishes (use leftovers from dinner the night before or batch cook)
Dinner ideas:
  • Stewed, slow-cooked, or baked dishes with; wholegrain rice, beef, chicken, root veggies, squash, leafy greens, ginger, garlic, onion, chili, cauliflower, parsnip, turnip
  • Seeds, nuts, dried fruit (not in excess)
  • Stewed pear with cinnamon
  • Oatmeal cookies, apple crumble
  • Ginger tea, fennel tea, peppermint tea, green tea
Cooking methods:
  • Stew
  • Slow cook
  • Roast

I’m no chef - so I’m always looking for delicious recipes that nourish the Lung using the foods and methods above! If you have any you’d like to share, please email them to

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