Don’t get sick this Fall by following these simple rules of TCM

One of the branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine is the theory of the Five Elements.

The Five Elements (Spring-Wood, Summer-Fire, Late Summer-Earth, Fall-Metal and Winter-Water) are based on the four seasons, with the addition of late summer to make five. Observations were made about the types of illness that abound during these seasons, and the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that optimal health can be maintained by preparing for the changes that the seasons bring.

The next season is Fall. The organ that becomes susceptible during this season is the Lung.

The time to prepare for Fall is now.

Microbes were discovered around 1665. Later, in 1875, Pasteur and Koch made the connection between microbes and disease. Until then, etiological agents of disease were not understood.

Ancient texts of Chinese Medicine such as the Neijing Suwen that date back to 475-220 B.C. radically departed from the shamanistic belief that evils and curses were the cause of disease. Instead, they recorded the observation that Wind carried and caused disease. While the germ theory was not discovered for another 2000 years, it was observed that wind was a source of pathogens. Calling “wind” an etiological factor of disease sounds arcane; however, it was simply not known that the wind (or simply the air) was a medium for spreading bacteria and viruses. In addition, wind can be drying, such as in the fall, and for certain systems like the lungs and nasal passages, this can set the stage for diseases to develop.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, an invasion of “wind cold” means you may have inhaled some droplets of air carrying a virus, and as a result you have the sniffles, you may feel chilled, and your eyes may water. You are beginning to come down with a cold. If your muscles or joints were exposed to a cold windy draft, they may be feeling stiff and achey. If the wind was very dry, your throat may feel dry and scratchy.

Fall is a Dry season, and according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, and this can adversely affect your Lungs (including your nose and mucosal nasal passages), Large Intestines and Skin.

Here are some helpful hints for the Fall.

Literally protect yourself from the wind. Wear a hat and wrap your neck up with a scarf. Protect the delicate organ than is most susceptible in the Fall–your Lungs. Stay hydrated as the Lungs do not like dryness. Consuming light broth soups is a nutritious way to stay warm and hydrated. Moisten the air that you breathe by starting a humidifier. If you are susceptible to respiratory illnesses, such as asthma which can be exacerbated by the dry conditions in the fall, this is a good time to start acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to strengthen your immune and respiratory systems.

If you feel chilled, trying drinking warm (fresh) ginger tea. Cinnamon is warming too. One of the quickest ways to prevent a cold from going deeper into your system is to sweat it out. Take a hot shower, drink some hot tea and wrap up in blankets. Once you’ve started to sweat, make sure you change clothes and sheets, so you don’t get cold and damp. You will most likely only need to sweat it out once. If you have developed a fever, in addition to chills, it is probably too late to sweat it out. Please never try to sweat out a fever. It will only make you more ill.

If you have more detailed questions, please give us a call. If you are ill, please get evaluated by your doctor.

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