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Ever since I changed careers and no longer am a high school science teacher I have maintained that September is the best month of the summer! Days are still in the '70's, nights are cooler, and I don't have to go back to school! But this September is pushing me away from summer and into fall much faster than prior years.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) each season is linked with a natural element, organ and emotion. The Fall is the element of metal, the organ is the lung and the emotion is grief.

As the seasons change we are nudged into a transition for ourselves. TCM teaches us that humans are intricately tied to their environment and thus the change of season can play out in us physically, mentally and emotionally. We must transition from the active and expansive warmth of the summer to the passive, darker and cold mornings of the fall.

The Metal qualities are strong, definitive, focused and discerning. These qualities need to be embraced in the fall. It is a time of letting go and going more inward as we begin to go back to work, back to school, becoming more focused and prepare for the coming winter months and it's period of hibernation.

As the days get shorter and the temperatures get colder we need to change our dress code; switching from the freedom of shorts and sandals to the constriction of long pants, socks and shoes. And I've begun to pull out my scarves again! You should too!

The lungs are the only organ, besides the skin, that has direct interaction with the exterior environment through our breath. As we breathe we pull the exterior oxygen into the depths of our interior lungs. Thus, in TCM, the Lung Meridian is our first line of defense against any invading pathogens. In this ancient medicine the pathogens that invade us are not viral or bacterial but environmental. In the fall the most common pathogen to invade us is Wind Cold with symptoms of a runny nose, coughing, sore throat and headache. Wind Cold invades us by entering through the base of our neck, or the 7th Cervical Vertebrae area. Thus the best defense against this invasion of Wind Cold is the wearing of a scarf to keep this area covered, warm and protected from the cold, fall winds.

As the days become shorter and the impending longer nights of winter are imminent it's common to feel more somber and quiet. But if you feel you may be tipping too far into your own darkness you may want to consult with an acupuncturist and see if we can't strengthen the lung meridian for you and give you better energy to cope with the associated emotions this change of season brings.

Staying healthy with the season also means eating foods that are ready for harvest at this time. The Farmers Markets are beginning to fill with carrots, turnips, winter squashes and sweet potatoes. This is a time when we want to start eating warmer foods. Try roasting these root vegetables verses eating cold raw vegetables and salads . Add the pungent foods of garlic, onions and mustard greens to your soups, stews and those roasted vegetables. As we begin to dress to keep our exterior warm we want to eat to warm up our interior as well. If you crave fruits note the ones of our season; figs, pears, grapes and apples.

Warm apple pie anyone?

Many clients begin to return for their series of acupuncture treatments at the change of the seasons. And those who have been coming to me for awhile understand the benefits of strengthening the lung meridian as well as their immune system to better head into the fall and winter months.

Might it be time that you tried this approach to transistioning into the next season so that you don't "fall back" with a wind cold invasion?