It’s finally fall!

So, you’ve heard of yin and yang, but the other major system of balance is the five elements. The Guanzi, a text attributed to the philosopher Guan Zhong who lived during the 7th century B.C.E., observes that “the human being completes physical form after five lunar months and is born after ten.” Chinese theory is big on cycles of 5.

Lots of Chinese theory comes from the 5 elements, wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Wood burns to make fire, whose ashes become earth, from where metals are formed, which enriches water, which nourishes trees (wood). Wood is cut by metal, fire is extinguished by water, earth is penetrated by wood (tree roots), metal is melted by fire, water is channeled and contained by earth. Yes, I know the periodic table and modern anatomy and physiology exist, but these simple interactions can explain a great deal of imbalance in the natural world and its microcosm in the human body.

Any basic acupuncture or Chinese medicine book will likely have a table of correspondences. Each season also has associated organ and meridian systems, sense, tissue, emotion, body fluid, color, pathogenic influence, and taste (which also speaks to dietary recommendations). Autumn is metal, associated with the lung and large intestine, nose, skin, grief, mucus, white, dryness, and pungency.

The lung is the tender organ, and a lot of traditional fall tips involve building the immune system and staying covered. It’s all about avoiding that autumn cold, so do keep a light scarf or jacket around for when you go from the 90 degrees outside to 60 degrees inside. Even if you don’t believe in cold actually leading to catching one, why deal with the shock to your system? Pungency means spices, so have that PSL, but maybe skim, maybe soy, easy on the sugar. I have seen a lot written about fall cleaning instead of spring cleaning, organizing, downsizing, and letting things go. The paired organ to Lung is Large Intestine, so I will let you make your own poop joke.

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