Keep Your Lungs Healthy in the Autumn 秋燥傷肺

By Candace Liu LAc, B. Med, MSOM, DAOM

The Chinese have a saying “the autumn sky is clear and the air is crisp秋高氣爽”. This saying explains that autumn is a wonderful season after the summer’s heat and before the winter’s cold. Autumn is a colorful season to gather the harvest.

A Traditional Chinese Medicine explanation of the Lung

In Traditional Chinese medicine each season relates to a certain organ system. Autumn relates with the lung, which can easily be attacked by dryness. An ancient text that covers the foundations of Traditional Chinese Medicine titled Su Wen states “excess drought causes dryness”. The lung is a delicate organ, intolerable to cold and heat and easily attacked by pathogenic factors. One of the functions of the lung in Traditional Chinese Medicine is to govern and regulate the water passages. This refers to the function of the lung propelling, adjusting and discharging fluids in the body. Dryness can easily affect the lung and damage the body fluids (Jin Ye) resulting in dry mouth, dry lips, dry nose, dry throat, dry stool, dry skin and other symptoms. Sometimes drinking more water does not improve the symptoms of dryness. This is when it is important to use acupuncture and herbs to treat the lung organ and lung meridian.

Foods to support the Lung

The lung relates with the color white in Traditional Chinese Medicine. White foods can nourish the lung. Some examples are radish, cauliflower, cabbage, Chinese cabbage (napa), tremella (white fungus), sugar cane, almonds, Chinese yam, white sesame, etc. Generally white foods are energetically cooling in the body and should not be overeaten especially for constitutionally deficient people. In addition to the above, the following foods can help to nourish the lung: pear, tangerine, kiwi, lotus root, alfalfa, honey and soy milk. During the autumn it is best to avoid spicy foods such as peppers, chilies, ginger and cinnamon.

Teas to Protect the Lung in Autumn:

  1. Chrysanthemum tea
    1. Chrysanthemum 15g
    2. After the water is boiling add the chrysanthemum and boil for 5 minutes. Drink while warm.
    3. Add honey to taste when drink is warm but not hot
  2. Rose tea
    1. Rose 15g
    2. After the water is boiling add the rose and boil for 5 minutes. Drink while warm.
    3. Add honey to taste when drink is warm but not hot
  3. Oolong tea
    1. Oolong 5g
    2. Boil water then steep oolong leaves for 1-2 minutes.
    3. Add honey to taste when drink is warm but not hot
  4. Goji berries tea
    1. Goji berries 15g
    2. After the water is boiling add the Goji berries and boil for 5 minutes. Drink while warm.
  5. Chen Pi (dried orange peel) tea
    1. Chen Pi 5g, Green tea 5g
    2. After the water is boiling add the Chen Pi and green tea leaves and boil for 5 minutes. Drink while warm.
    3. Add honey to taste when drink is warm but not hot

Sources:

  1. Basic Theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine

 

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