We all know the notion of "spring cleaning", but did you know that Fall is, in fact, the better season for cleaning up and letting go?
The 5-elements theory, one of the fundamental basis of Chinese medicine, pairs Autumn with the element of metal. In the fall, natures lets go of leaves that are done serving, and gets ready for dormancy. Your body should too!
Let's explore why and how to cleanse and let go in the Fall according to Chinese medicine.
The metal element : the energy of letting go
The metal element, 金 ， is the element of structure. In the body, it governs the lungs, large intestines, skin and nose. In the mind, it is associated with grief.
The characteristics of metal are integrity, strength and precision. It is the metal in the earth that gives it its inner structure and value.
Metal allows us to shine, to be brilliant, to inspire. Metal also has a component of flexibility as it can be remolded many times. When metal gets too strong, however, it becomes rigid.
Metal allows us to set boundaries, get our things in order, and to eliminate what no longer serves us.
Think of the metal season as the time to arrange your affairs before the dormancy of winter, when nature invites us to hibernate and be still. Like with a blade made of metal, severe ties that no longer serve you.
Physical Symptoms of Metal Element Imbalance
Lowered immune functions
Grief, unresolved trauma, PTSD
Self righteousness, dogmatism
If you suffer from any of the above, chances are you could use a little balancing of your metal organs, namely lungs and colon.
Lungs, skin & large intestines as organs of cleansing and detoxing
There is little need for you to actively pursue a detoxification of your body by ingesting juices, superfoods or miracle cures. It turns out your body is equipped with natural detoxifiers, namely
your liver, which we can support in the spring, who filters the blood
your kidneys, which we can support in the winter
your skin, large intestines and lungs, who need TLC in the fall.
I always say detox via your organs, and not detox your organs. We need to support them seasonally and gently through our everyday lifestyle choices, and we need to strengthen their natural function of elimination.
Detox via the lungs
Our lungs are an often overlooked detox organ. Your lungs bring oxygen and vital energy (qi) into the blood stream, and are responsible for filtering out carbon dioxide, fumes, molds, allergens, and airborne toxins.
Detox via the colon
The colon (or large intestine) is one of the main avenues of elimination, the primary organ related to letting go physically and emotionally.
Detox via the skin (belongs to the lungs in TCM)
The skin is your body's largest organ of elimination and acts as an extra filter to the kidneys for removing wastes from the blood. It is governed by the Qi of the lungs.
When the other organs are congested the skin tries to push out toxins through the skin, and you end up with rashes, pimples and so on.
The skin throws off about two pounds of toxic waste a day in the form of perspiration.
Simple actions to support your metal organs
Regularize bowel movements
This will help to fully discharge excess wastes and toxins as they are released out of the tissues and organs. If you are backed up, toxins accumulate.
By hydrating enough and consuming cooked green vegetables, you should get enough fiber to allow smooth bowel movements. You can follow the fall diet recommended below.
Dry brush your skin
Dry brushing is a fantastic ritual, not only for the fall ! It has many benefits:
activates the lymph
eliminates dead skin
promotes blood circulation
Practice Deep Breathing
The lungs govern respiration and Qi. In order strengthen Qi and build up reserves for the winter, nothing beats deep breathing.
Declutter your home
Get rid of excess junk in your living space. Detoxifying your environment has health benefits too!
Acupressure for metal season
Located in the fleshy part between your thumb and index fingers, it is usually tender to the touch.
regulates defensive Qi
expels wind (the prevalent pathogen in the fall)
regulates the face and nose
Press and rub in circular motions for 1 minute each side.
This point is located on the upper chest, in the first intercostal space (slightly under the collar bone), almost at the border with your deltoid muscle.
This point helps decongest the chest and the nose, treats cough and asthma.
Tap gently with your opposite side's index and middle fingers for 1 minute each side
Whole Foods diet for gentle cleansing
You don't need a fad superfood, and certainly not a juice cleanse. Rather, stop putting toxic things into your body, and your organs will do the rest. Here's a round-up of fall season foods for supporting the metal element:
Whole Grains: Quinoa, millet, buckwheat, brown rice
Root Vegetables: Beets, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, onions, radish, and turnips.
Fruit: Berries, apples
Nuts and Seeds in moderation
Cooked Leafy Green (avoid raw foods in this season, they burden digestion).
Warm Pungent Foods: Onions, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, oregano, basil, rosemary, sage, bell peppers.
Essential oils of juniper and tea tree
Read more About Health in the Fall season
Pumpkin spice: 3 Chinese medicine inspired recipes