In the philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), each season of the year fulfills one of the archetypes of the 5 elements, or 5 phases. The seasonal cycle is a perpetual cycle of new growth, expansion and upward/outward movement, culmination and maturity, then back to decay/recycling of matter and energy, contraction and downward/inward movement.
Like the breath itself, as we inhale to fill up with new energy and life force (Qi), then exhale out to dispel all that we no longer need, this cycle is the rhythm of life itself, a song of infinite duration, completely self sustaining, one phase feeding into and preparing the way for the next.
As we move into autumn, or fall, the energy begins “falling” downward and inward into a yin phase of rest and regeneration.
The corresponding element is metal, which is symbolic of earth matter that has been refined into pure essence, where the gross and bulky substance has been filtered out alchemically, and purified into an essential and useful substance.
TCM sees each element/phase as linked to one of the body’s organ systems. Metal is linked with the processes of the Lung and Large Intestine. The lungs take in the air around us, refine it into only the needed substance and turn this concentrated essential substance into the qi (chi, or energy) that feeds our life.
After the food we eat has been fully digested, and all useful and essential elements extracted from the physical matter, the waste that we cannot use or do not need is eliminated by our large intestine. The lung takes in and refines to produce qi, and the large intestine eliminates the waste of what has been taken in.
This process of refinement and purification of essence is the most active phase in the autumn. As we prepare our lives for the deep rest of winter, we are eliminating the unneeded excess from the year’s activities and store only what’s essential to go deep, to rest and regenerate in the extreme yin of the winter months. Autumn is the time when the yang phase of growth, expansion and production of the spring and summer comes to an end, and we turn back into ourselves, letting go and reflecting on the year’s activity.
TCM intentionally groups organs into systems, rather than seeing each organ individually like in Western medicine models. The diaphragm of the lungs, when the breath is healthy, deep and rhythmic, massages the digestive organs and keeps the peristalsis of the large intestine working smoothly. When the lungs become constricted, the large intestine suffers and one often experiences pain or blockage in the colon. Likewise, when the gut becomes irritated, the breath can be negatively affected, often causing shortness of breath.
Foods & Herbs to Support the Lungs & Large Intestines
We like to focus our herbal and nutritional strategy on harmonizing with the current season, as it is believed that this is the best way to maintain balance and vitality. Also, since that organ system is more active in its corresponding season, this is the best time to focus on healing and resolving any lingering imbalances or health issues you may have originating from those organs.
One property of fall/autumn is wind and dryness. We can have a tendency to lose moisture during this season, as the winds pick up and become colder. This wind can “invade” our body if our immune defenses aren’t adequate, causing illness like colds and flus. This is exacerbated even more in modern times as we turn on the heaters in our houses, which dry us out even more and expose us continually to stale “artificial wind” and reduce the oxygen levels available in our environment.
The lung system is also connected with the skin, and the lungs and skin are seen as our first line of defense against outside invaders that can weaken and sicken us if our vitality is low. This protective force is known as the wei qi, or protective qi. Specific foods, herbs and lifestyle practices help to strengthen this force that can make our bodies impenetrable to invaders.
The pungent flavor is associated with fall/autumn, and pungent foods like ginger, onions, garlic and mustard help the lungs function optimally. Herbs like astragalus and medicinal mushrooms strengthen the wei qi, which is synonymous with our immune system in TCM.
Medicinal Mushrooms & Sea vegetables
Medicinal mushrooms are considered the “lungs of the land”, whereas seaweeds are the “lungs of the sea”. They both help the planet to respirate and circulate in order to create movement, space, and new material for growth. Both are deeply nourishing and strengthening to our own lungs, as well.
Medicinal mushrooms include reishi, cordyceps, maitake, shiitake, coriolus, agaricus, and more. They are some of the most potent immune system modulators and adaptogens known.
Satori is our comprehensive and synergistic blend of 17 medicinal mushrooms, creating a formula that supports a dynamic, high performing immune system.
Our Adapt formula is 16 medicinal mushrooms combined with several other potent adaptogens in a traditional sake extract, for peak performance and immune system strengthening.
We are also excited to offer our extremely high-grade reishi mushroom products! Presence comes in two formats - a Seishen Reishi Syrup Concentrate & Sake Extract. We also have our very rare Wild Purple Reishi Extract, as well as Wild Red Reishi full spectrum powder.
The thousands of years’ track record of medicinal mushrooms as top grade medicines and preventatives in Chinese and Japanese herbalism makes them an excellent tried and true staple in any herbal program.
Seaweeds, or sea vegetables, are amazing foods for deeply mineralizing our bodies and helping us maintain essential moisture in times of increased dryness. The rich mineral content of seaweed helps to strengthen our immune defenses, build up nutrients to get through the upcoming winter healthy and strong, and nourish the kidneys in preparation for the winter, which is the season that emphasizes the kidney system. The moistening property of seaweeds is excellent for our lungs and large intestines. It helps retain essential moisture in our digestive tract so our peristalsis and elimination will function smoothly and easily.
There are several great whole seaweeds you can add to your diet, and our favorites for flavor, texture and nutritional content include our Coral Seaweed, Kombu and Wakame. To branch into more exotic and rare varieties and also increase the convenience aspect, try our Kazumi seaweed powder, which is easy to consume sprinkled on food to add flavor, or even taken straight from the capsules. Kazumi consists of uncommon seaweed varieties with a unique nutritional and energetic value.
Our Master Element Series for Targeted Seasonal Support
Our autumn nutritional and herbal strategy focuses on medicinal mushrooms, seaweeds and pungent foods to support our lungs, large intestines and immune system. Additionally, we offer a targeted formula to support and nourish the most active organ systems of this time of the year, our Element Series Earth/Metal Formula.
As your first line of defense against pathogens, it helps to strengthen the mental, emotional and physical aspects related to the lung and spleen systems of the body. The spleen system is associated with the earth element and late summer, which recently completed, and moves seamlessly into the autumn’s focus on the lung system.
The synergy of the two elemental formulas combined provide the body with:
- Improved energy
- Improved immune function
- Strong digestion support
- Clarity of thought and focus
- Feelings of being grounded and centered
- Anxiety and worry support
- Increased strength and musculature
- Improved endurance
Earth/Metal combines earth and sky to help support your immunity, energize the mind and shift the body into greater balance.
Meditation and Going Inward
Meditation is incredibly beneficial any time of the year, but it is especially important during the fall season as energy in the body is naturally moving inward. Meditation helps us to deeply relax and let go of what no longer serves us. Encouraging us to move inward, meditating in stillness assists us in letting go of negative emotions, behavioral patterns, and unnecessary stress.
We offer premium grade incense as a tool to help calm the spirit, relax and energize the body, and purify your space. This incense is quite different from what is commercially available as the formulations are crafted similar to the way we craft our herbal formulas.
Having an incense that is crafted out of medicinal mushrooms, tree wood, resins, flowers, and other therapeutic botanicals delivers nutrients directly to the brain and upper glands which leads to a cascade of positive effects that:
- Protect the lungs and the brain with anti-microbial/anti-fungal compounds bolstering immunity
- Strengthen ones biofield/vital energy
- Amplify the body's energies and induce meditative brainwave states
You can check all of our Premium Grade Incense out here.
We hope you enjoy this time of wrapping up the active, yang phase of the year, letting go, preparing to rest and regenerate during these upcoming seasons where yin energy predominates.