Cooler weather is great, but don't forget to stay on top of your health! SEASONAL CHANGES ARE THE BEST TIME FOR SELF-CARE.
Changes, be they seasonal or otherwise, tend to cause upheaval. Think about it: when you move, things are more likely to go haywire. Think about the last time you moved your house. Did you lose a box? Was there a delay? Invariably the answer is Yes! Then think about the last time you injured yourself. Were you moving your body? Most likely!
When we stay static, when we don't move, there's less chance of something going wrong - and it's literally because nothing is happening. It reminds me of the parable of the seed from eastern philosophy. The seed can remain safe for decades, even centuries. Only once it has sprouted it risks serious harm or even destruction. But life, living, is worth the risk! So as we move into the fall (finally!), let's incorporate some healthy and preventive practices over the next few weeks:
Fall corresponds to Dryness, the Metal Element, and the Lungs. Okay, it for sure corresponds to a bunch more stuff, but let's just start with these. You already know that when fall comes and the weather starts to cool down, your skin, eyes, and throat are prone to dryness. You're making sure you got lip balm before you leave the house, or you got that dry tickle in your throat making everyone think you got covid. Fall. Is. Dry.
That also means that our lungs are very prone to the dryness, and this is the time of year we need to watch out for respiratory illnesses in particular. In Eastern Medicine, the lungs are directly tied to the immune system. So we want to make sure it's doing well, not overreacting, not under-responding, but Goldilocks-ing its way through the whole winter!
Let's do a deeper dive:
1. Get A Scarf! For lots of us in South Texas, it's like - really? And the answer is, Yes Really! Hell I usually tell my patients to keep a scarf with them all year long. because when you go into a 65 degree office from the 115 degree heat, that is a huge shock to our systems! But I digress - we need to talk about fall. So there's a big concept in Eastern Medicine called Wind Points. These points are usually on the head/neck/shoulder area, and it's where the pathogens like wind and cold can enter the body. It's why we get upper body aches when we get sick, and our throats hurt so much! So cover them up with a scarf, or jacket. And for Heaven's sake, listen to what your mother told you and don't go outside with wet hair in the morning!!
2. Drink warm fluids. But for real, ditch the ice! I know, every acupuncturist you've ever had told you to ditch the ice, as well as that wellness expert on Oprah, TikTok, or InstaGram. And yeah, I think every one of us in South Texas rolled our eyes because, have you even been here in the summer?! IT's freaking hot. They're not wrong though...that ice is not at all helpful for your gut. It dowses the digestive fire, it makes the body work harder to get nutrients from it - which does increase burned calories, but at the cost of increasing body temperature - making you even hotter! It's a game fraught with traps for those of us in extreme climates. So, while I turn a blind eye to ice in the summer (and maybe even have a few cubes myself), come fall we gotta ditch that ice. Drink your water room temperature, and start drinking that fresh brewed warm coffee and tea again. I know, iced coffee is my security blanket too. But I believe in you and your power to make healthier choices, if only for a season!
3. Qigong - Lung Health.
Ohmigosh! You know how much I love Qigong! I could go on and on, and on some more, but I'll spare you. Suffice it to say, I think qigong is the best thing we have for preventive health. So here is a 7 minute video with some of the best movements for the lungs. Enjoy!
I also recommend this movement during the fall months, but also anytime you are feeling like you are coming down with something respiratory related. Just do it until you feel a slight sheen of sweat forming on the skin, then rest. Do that twice a day, and you should get over your cold twice as fast.
4. Food is Medicine! In Eastern Herbal Medicine, we use lots of spices and foods. The idea is that the foods we consume can actually be healing and medicinal, in and of themselves. That means things like ginger, butternut squash, garlic, sweet potatoes, walnuts, turnips, and onions are especially good, but especially in soup! So make yourself a nice butternut squash soup with ginger and garlic, topped with walnuts and turnips. I mean YUM! Seriously though, in general focus on foods that are easy to digest and warming. We gotta start getting you ready for that winter hibernation!
5. Finally, and you all knew this was coming - Acupuncture! Seasonal changes are some of the best times in the year to come in for a preventive treatment. Yes that's right - Preventive Medicine! We don't talk about this enough, but preventive medicine is going to be the future. In fact it already is - that's why there's so much content on social media dedicated to working out, eating healthy, and processing emotions. These are very much preventive medicine practices. Acupuncture works within the framework of Eastern Medicine to help the body perform at its best. So get on that patient portal and come in, let's talk about your poop, your sleep, your energy, your diet, and let's get you feeling your best.
Stay Healthy, Friends!
~The Red Raven
Bret Kyle Rogers, L.Ac.
Texas based acupuncturist, qigong teacher, and herbalist demystifying Chinese medicine. The author frequently links to Amazon.com for specific products. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases and appreciate your business!