“The three months of autumn is the season of ripening. In autumn it is cool, the wind blows fast and the atmosphere appears clear. People should sleep early in the night and get up early in the morning just like hens and roosters.” Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Medicine)
The arrival of Autumn announces the end of hot summer days and the beginning of the cold of winter. Know as the turning point, Autumn is the season of the lung & the large Intestine according to traditional Chinese Medicine. The lungs are in charge of our skin, our nostrils, and our immune system. Along with this seasonal change, the respiratory system tends to constrict & as the air dries, the moisture in the body decreases. This reduced moisture especially affects the the upper respiratory tract and the large Intestine & can lead to coughing, sore throat, dry nasal passages, breathing problems, headache, chapped lips and constipation.
According to TCM, it is suggested that we eat for lung health and the immune system, supported with the foods that grow seasonally during this time. This will not only strengthen our bodies during the autumn, but it will prepare us for better health in the winter months.
In order to strengthen the immune system and support our lungs it is important to eat naturally white foods, such as pears, onions, leeks, capsicum, and cauliflower, as well as rice. Rice is considered the specific grain of the lungs. Pears are especially fantastic for people who live in a climate that gets dry in the autumn. If you get a dry, persistent cough, adding a baked pear with a little cinnamon can help immensely. In fact, Chinese medicine indicate that if you are prone to dry, wheezing induced by cold air in the autumn and winter, eating pears daily while in season.
The final way to strengthen your lungs is by eating nutritious vegetables that nourish and strengthen the organ system that is considered the mother of the lungs, the spleen and Stomach organs. This works on the philosophy that the child stays healthy and strong, when the mother stays healthy and strong.
Orange and yellow vegetables with a hint of sweetness nourish the spleen and stomach. So eating a healthy dose of orange fleshed squash such as butternut, banana, pumpkin, kabocha, and squash is what the doctor ordered. You can also add in carrots, sweet potatoes.
Strengthening the lung as well as the spleen & stomach, is especially important for children (especially under 3yrs old) due to their delicate organ system (namely spleen & stomach) & immature physique & qi (pronounced chee meaning energy). It is said that the children have tender skin, insufficient qi & blood, weak digestive systems, have weak lungs, unconsolidated kidney qi, fragile bones & muscles and their livers are prone to being in excess (meaning they are easily affected by the wind.) Have you ever noticed how crazy kids get in the playground on a windy day.
As a result children experience easy onset & rapid transformation of disease processes and are easily attacked by one of the 6 external pathogenic factors (cold, heat, wind, damp & dryness). The lungs are very sensitive and often the first organ to be attacked by dryness, so protecting the lungs is a must in autumn. According to TCM, it’s not enough to drink fluids and it is advocated to eat moisturizing foods. This is essential to nourish yin (cool energy), reduce dryness and moisturize the body, inside and out. Moistening foods include pears, honey (over the age of 12 months), maltose, chicken eggs, and spinach. However due to the relative health of children’s zang -fu (organ system) they are said to be full of vitality & recover quickly from these disease processes.
During Autumn it is also important to avoid to much spicy foods, such as onions, chili, pepper and other foods that upset the respiratory system and can cause indigestion.
Eating a spoonful of ground walnut is a traditional autumn and winter tonic that promotes a good night’s sleep.
You can drink a big cup of honey water right after getting up in the morning. It’s very effective to treat constipation (for children over 12 months old)
Grapes, pears and lotus root help treat nasal dryness and sore throat, while pork skin, dairy products, meat, eggs and beans can moisturize and smooth skin.
Pear, also “cold” in energy, helps relieve fever, remove the toxins, moisten the lungs and treat bad coughs. If cooked with water chestnut, sugarcane and honey, it helps treat bronchitis.
Pomegranate are also “cold in nature”. The juice helps stop coughing and treat dysentery in children.
Chinese red dates nourish the stomach and especially good to help support the immature digestion of children.
apples, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, figs, feijoa, grapes, lemons, limes, honeydew melon, rockmelon, watermelon, nashi, nectarines, oranges, passionfruit, peach, pears, persimmons, plums, pomegranate, rhubarb cumquats,, mandarins, nashi, tamarillos, cumquats, feijoa, lemons, limes, mandarins, nashi, oranges,
Almonds, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pistachio, walnuts
bay leaf, parsley, mint, rosemary, thyme, chives, oregano, marjoram, sage, bronze fennel, dill, basil, watercress, witlof, coriander
- Fruit: Apple, date, lemon, mandarin, orange, pear, tangerine, apricot, avocado, gooseberry, mango, pineapple, strawberry
- Vegetables: Cauliflower, leek, parsnip, potato, purple sprouting broccoli, sweet potato,Asparagus, carrots, fennel, peas, radish, spinach, spring greens, sorrel, new potatoes.
- Herbs: Chives, parsley, dill, mustard greens, sage, thyme, watercress
Pitchford, P. (1993) 3rd Ed. Healing with Whole Foods. Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition.
Professor Wong, L & Knapsey, K (2002) Food for the Seasons. Black Dog Books.