The Alchemy of Autumn


The Summer season’s long warm days and the outward (Yang) activities it inspires have left many of us feeling scattered and tired.

Each year, it seems that Autumn come just in time. Its energies are in harmony with pulling inward and gathering together on all levels. It is a time to begin storing fuel, food, warmer clothing and most of all our vital energies!

You may feel compelled to reorganize your surroundings and clear out what you no longer need. This is directly related to the influence of the Metal element associated with this season. Think of an axe chopping away the dead wood that would otherwise drain the vital living energy of a tree. This is one of the best times to accurately identify and let go of the old, lifeless energy-draining things that have accumulated around you.

Your precious time and energy can now be focused with razor-like sharpness (Metal element again!) on only that which is of real value in terms of nourishment. Make use of the Autumnal gift of enhanced focus by keenly observing and cultivating positive attitudes, focusing scattered thoughts through meditation practices, and organizing your life around healthy habits and loving relationships.

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Autumn’s associated organ is the Lung. Its function of inspiration and expiration reminds us of our natural ability to take in what we need (oxygen) and release what no longer serves us (carbon dioxide).

The emotion associated with this season is grief, so it is common for sadness to surface at this time.  Simply feel it, explore it, and allow the alchemy of Autumn to help you to release it. Cry if you feel the need.  Remember, tears are one of nature’s toxic waste removal systems so why on earth should we stop their flow?


Double squash with pecans and cherry tomatoes


According to Chinese medicine, different foods carry their own unique character and quality of energy.  Some offer a warming quality, some are cooling, others are astringent and are said to help “hold the chi” (life-force energy).  Nature in its wisdom provides us with the foods that are most needed by our physiology during each season. During Autumn, these foods are abundant, yet contracting in nature.  They are astringent as well as hearty.  More focus is required in food preparation during Autumn to supply greater energy.


Remember, the energy, focus and love that one puts into food preparation has a direct effect on the quality of nourishment that food provides when consumed.

Baked and sautéed. foods release aromas that enter the nose (opening of the lungs), stimulating the appetite.  Cook foods longer using less water and lower heat during this season.

Foods to help begin the contraction process: Sourdough bread, sauerkraut, rose hip tea, salt, apple cider vinegar, cheese, yogurt, olives, pickles, leeks, adzuki beans, lemon, lime, grapefruit, sour apples.

To counter conditions of lung dryness: (thirst, dry skin, nose, lips and throat, itchiness, persistent dry cough) Eat organic soy products (tofu, miso, soy sauce, soy beans, soy milk), spinach, barley, millet, pear, apple, persimmon, loquat, seaweed, black and white fungus, almonds, pine nuts, sesame seeds, barley malt, rice syrup, clam, crab, oyster, mussel, herring, and pork (please buy only organic and humanely raised meats).

To counter conditions of excess phlegm: Enjoy easily digested foods: veggies, fruits, sprouts, small amounts of grains and legumes, turnip, radish, garlic, onion, fennel, fenugreek, flax seed, cayenne, watercress, fresh ginger.

Minimize or Avoid: Dairy products, mammal meats, fried foods, peanuts, tofu, miso, soy sauce, soy milk, amazake, and all sweeteners except stevia.

Our herbal pharmacy contains a treasure trove of classic Chinese medicinals that boost the immune system, treat colds, flu, fevers, lingering coughs and assist in the recovery of gastroenteritis (intestinal flu).

Autumn is the perfect time to get acupuncture treatments for various TCM “Lung” related imbalances including the prevention and treatment of upper respiratory infections, as well as intestinal problems and depression.

Winter’s chill is just around the corner.  Prepare yourself with a seasonal acupuncture session and herbal medicine consultation!



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