About Lynn

lynn jaffeeLynn Jaffee is a licensed acupuncturist and the author of the book, Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health, a clear and concise explanation of Chinese medicine for the lay person. She is co-author of the book, The BodyWise Woman, a personal health manual for physically active women and girls. Read more about Lynn...

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Mother Earth, Fall, and Chinese Medicine

Yesterday we spent the morning dismantling our community garden plot. Our biggest tasks were to remove all the critter-proof fencing, rip out any large plants, and take our tools and watering cans home. Even though it was the end of the season, the garden was still cranking out food. Surprisingly, there were still green beans, cherry tomatoes, squash, peppers, tomatillos, and eggplant. Despite the gray 50 degree weather, we hadn’t had a hard freeze yet, and the Earth seemed to be hell bent on feeding us for as long as possible.

Chinese Food Therapy MinneapolisEven in our small garden plot, it’s clear that fall is a time of abundance. In Chinese medicine, each season carries with it a task; something we are supposed to be doing to survive, or at least stay as healthy as possible. Our task during the fall is to eat well and stock up for the coming winter, and it seems as though our garden plot and gardens and orchards everywhere are happy to comply.

Chinese medicine has lots to say about each season. Here are some things to know about fall:

-Not only does the earth supply us with an overflowing harvest, but it also provides the right kinds of foods. Think about it; during the summer we pick berries, tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuces—all food that don’t keep well without intervention in the form of canning, cooking, or freezing. However, as the weather cools off, we get winter squash, root vegetables, beans, and apples; foods that keep much longer into the winter. It feels like Mother Earth has our back.

-Beyond keeping well into the winter, fall crops are also heavier and heartier. They’re easier to digest, give us more energy, and are warmer energetically. These are the foods that will bulk us up and get us through the cold months.

-In Chinese medicine, fall actually encompasses two seasons, that of late summer and of fall. Symbolic of the harvest, late summer is associated with your Chinese Spleen and the process of eating and digestion. It’s a time of plenty, and you’re meant to eat lots, digest well, and store energy.

-Fall is typically a time of drying out. It’s associated with your Chinese Lungs, which encompasses your entire respiratory system and immune function. Fall is a time of seasonal allergies and the first colds of the winter season. Again, Mother Nature has you covered, because traditional fall fruits like apples and pears are used to strengthen and moisten your lungs. In addition, acrid foods that are ripening now like onions and garlic are warming and are good for fighting off colds and flu.

-Each season in Chinese medicine is signified by a specific color. Yellow is the color of late summer as seen in the turning of the leaves, squash, and mown hay. White, however, is the color most related to later fall—the color of apples, potatoes, and onions, as well as frost and snow.

-While some people struggle with the decrease of daylight, the shorter days are a signal to slow down, rest, and conserve your energy for the coming winter. You’ve worked hard in the garden, now take a rest while the soil is resting.

-In fact, fall is all about building and conserving your energy. From the plentiful and hearty foods that are being harvested to the shorter days that compel you to get to bed earlier and rise later, the earth is telling you that winter is coming, it’s long and cold, and you need a little extra energy to hunker down and stay warm.

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