Ailments of Autumn

Autumn in the foothills is generally dry and breezy with cool crisp nights. Chinese medicine associates autumn with the lung, large intestine, skin, mucous membranes, nose and throat. Common ailments are cough, asthma, hoarseness, sore throat, dry cracked skin, chapped lips, nosebleeds, and digestive problems. While the weather is dry, phlegm is particularly sticky and hard to cough up. Grief and sorrow are also associated with this time of year.

Here are some general guidelines for balancing the cold and dry elements of autumn:

  • Stay well hydrated. Remember, air-conditioned spaces, especially airplanes, create similar conditions as autumn.
  • Drink soothing herb teas for the throat, lungs, and intestines, such as licorice root, marshmallow root, slippery elm bark, chamomile, rosehips, lemon grass, fresh ginger and mint.
  • Avoid bitter and drying herbs unless otherwise directed by a professional herbalist. (Echinacea and goldenseal are dry and bitter, and although they are excellent herbs for many conditions, they are over used.)
  • Use sweet spices with moist food, such as anise, bay, basil, cardamom, fennel, nutmeg, coriander, and orange peel.
  • Eat warm, moist foods such as soups, stews, and well-cooked grains and vegetables.
  • Eat fresh or stewed fruit, particularly those that are moist and sour, such as lemon, grapefruit, grapes, tangerines, applesauce, papayas, pears, figs, bananas. Avoid dried or astringent fruits.
  • Dairy is best consumed in the form of yogurt and buttermilk (organic of course). Limit hard cheeses unless cooked to soften.
  • Wear protective clothing, particularly around the neck, head and shoulders.
  • Avoid things that aggravate the nerves, such as fans, fluorescent lights, TV, computer screens, caffeine, and white sugar.
  • Create calmness in your daily life and surround yourself with warm and nurturing people.