So goodbye summer… hello autumn in all its colourful glory. Although the sun is out the past week, there’s a big difference in the temperature, especially these mornings! I can’t say I won’t miss the summer, the sunshine, long bright evenings, festival season, the buzz around the city, and the abundance of fresh summer foods, but I do admit I have a soft spot for the autumn time. So I thought I would give you some insight into the Autumn season and health in Chinese Medicine and some tips to keep you in good health during this transition from summer to autumn.

So why are The Seasons such an important aspect of Chinese medicine? In ancient Taoist philosophy in China a lot of emphasis was placed on nature and living in accordance with the laws of nature. A quote from the Huang Di Nei Jing a Chinese medicine text written 2,000 years ago says…. “In ancient times those people who understood Tao (the way of self cultivation) patterned themselves upon the Yin and the Yang (the two principles in nature) and they lived in harmony…”

This idea of living in harmony with nature and with yin and yang became an important aspect of Chinese medicine, and still is to this day, a few thousand years later. So the theory behind it was that by observing nature and allowing our own body to be in harmony with nature, this in turn would help us become in harmony within ourselves.

Yin yang

I’m sure you have probably seen the yin yang symbol at some stage in some form or another. In Chinese philosophy yin and yang relate to harmonising opposites, which are in a constant state of fluctuation…nothing remains the same all the time. Like everything in life, health, weather, the property market, the Irish economy!…things are constantly changing.  So think of it like this, the spring and summer is full of activity, light and heat which relates to Yang whereas on the other hand the quiet, dark and cooler qualities of autumn and winter relate to yin. At this time of year we begin the move from yang to yin, from summer to autumn, from light to dark, from warmer temperatures to cooler, nature contracts and begins to move downward and inward to its roots, moving to its yin quality. A bit like hibernation.

So after all the activity of the summer we, as humans, should go into a quieter more reflective, nourishing time over the winter months. We may even notice a change in our bodies or a change in our energy. With this change comes a need to nourish our bodies with warmer foods and allow ourselves more sleep due to the natural cycle of the earth and the sun giving us, especially here in northern parts of the world, darker and shorter days. Autumn therefore should be a time where we turn our attention inward, resting, nourishing ourselves and increasing our sleep as the days get shorter. In an ideal world of course!

How can we support our body with food at this time of year?

If we take the above into consideration autumn foods should be nourishing and give us a more concentrated energy supply to help us through the cooler weather. It is not too hard to eat what is needed as this season supplies us with a super variety of foods which will help us do just this. Root vegetables including garlic, onion, carrot, potato, sweet potato, turnip, parsnips and the delicious beetroot (an excellent blood nourisher and particularly good for women), as well above-ground vegetables like squash, pumpkin, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale, cauliflower and fruits such as apples and blackberries. Along with this nuts and seeds are great sources of energy and help nourish our yin energy. Also herbs such as Echinacea and garlic are great to support the immune system at this time of year.

This is a great little calendar from Bord Bia which gives a list of lots of different types of vegetables and fruits and when they are in season. It’s always better to choose seasonal produce and source locally as much as possible.

Seasonal Acupuncture

During these seasonal changes people often come to us for acupuncture treatments. These can help boost the bodies energy and immune system and keep the body supported when it needs it most, helping you be prepared for the cooler season ahead.

Hope you enjoy the beautiful autumn sunshine!