Updated: Nov 9
As the seasons change, your body changes with them. As you shift from shorts and swimsuits to sweaters and scarves, it’s important to recognize the ways in which your body adjusts to the seasons internally.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
In Chinese medicine, each season is associated with a different organ system within the body. Each organ system has specific responsibilities within the body to maintain homeostasis and are also responsible for the expression and processing of the different emotions connected with them. Fall is the season of the Lung and Large Intestine systems; collectively, they are responsible for respiration, health of the skin, communication between the internal and external environments, the spread of nutrients to cells, processing grief and sorrow, elimination of waste. If these systems aren’t in balance, conditions related to these two organs can flare up.
Conditions related to immunity, constipation, depression, migraines and skin conditions can all become worse in autumn. Many people experience “fall acne” - a worsening of acne and breakouts. As the humidity and temps drop, the combination of drier, flakier skin and excess oil leads to clogged pores and a buildup of bacteria and oils trapped beneath the surface. Acupuncture and medicinal herbal teas are powerful ways to treat both the symptoms and root causes of acne.
Balance your body by living seasonally
This means eating foods in season, dressing accordingly, adapting to challenges, and experiencing the benefits that each season brings. Fall brings with it the challenge of colder, windier and darker weather and yet, it is invigorating to take walks and experience the brace of the autumn wind and the color of the changing leaves. Autumn also offers the opportunity to enjoy delicious soups, casseroles and stews shared with friends and family.
Here are some things that you can do to balance your Lung and Large Intestine systems this fall:
Keep head, neck, and extremities covered during wet, windy weather.
Keep warm during cold weather.
Pay attention to what you are taking in both physically and emotionally.
Eat more cooked foods such as soups, roasted vegetables and stir frys.
Enjoy warmer spices such as ginger, garlic, and cinnamon.
Stay well hydrated with filtered room temperature water and herbal teas. Fresh ginger tea is great for immunity.
Help the skin and body eliminate waste by having regular bowel movements.
Run a humidifier at home or in your office.
Keep lips and skin moisturized, preferably with all natural products.
Take regular walks outside in fresh air.
Address emotional needs: Start a journal and/or consult a mental health counselor.
Holistic Naturopathic Medicine
In naturopathic medicine, every change in season impacts the mind, body, and spirit in different ways. In the summer and early fall, the mind can function at its highest. As fall continues, mental health can be affected known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This can occur in any change in season. Symptoms can include: low mood and depression, anxiety, excessive worry, irritability, lethargy, and loss of interest in everyday activities. Why does this happen? This can happen from a reduction in sunlight, leading to falling levels of vitamin D and the feel good chemicals called serotonin and dopamine.
Less sunlight and cooler temperatures lead to changes in energy, appetite, metabolism, hormones, and gut health. Beneficial gut bacteria are responsible for the health and function of the body and are always responding to diet, lifestyle, stress, mindset, and environment. As seasons and the environment changes, gut bacteria and hormones change as well. You can feel more tired and sleepy during this time because less sunlight means more melatonin and less cortisol. Melatonin makes you sleepy and cortisol helps you get out of bed in the morning. There can be an increase in cravings for higher carb foods to help the body boost serotonin and dopamine levels back up to summer levels. While these dietary changes can occur, metabolism is changing to an insulin resistant state to prepare for winter months. This is why seasonal weight gain is common.
During the fall, sex hormones can change as well with an increase in testosterone for both men and women. This can lead to a worsening of acne, more cuddle sessions, and more sex.
Here are some ways to balance your mind, body, and spirit for a great fall:
Eat foods in season.
Increase protein and fat to reduce cravings of higher carb foods.
Prioritize mediation. Sit and observe your breathing at least once per day.
Declutter, tidy the house, and reorganize. This clears your mind and spirit.
Exercise daily, especially outdoors in daylight.
Get sunshine in your eyes as soon as you wake up and as the suns sets.
Avoid blue light screens and fluorescent lights after dinner.
If you get the blues, check your vitamin D levels, take a supplement with K2, and use a light therapy box or light lamp with 10,000 lux intensity.
Do things that bring you joy.
Spend time with friends, family, or community.
Naturopathic and Chinese medicines can help balance the body, mind and spirit during seasonal transitions
Either together or separately, they offer treatment options to prevent or treat fall health flare-ups and their root causes. Both modalities address a shifting internal environment within the body in response to a shifting external environment. If issues like acne, depression, weight gain, allergies, colds and flus are a concern for you or someone you know, please contact us and we will be happy to answer any questions and support you.
This article is for educational purposes only and does replace medical advice. It has been created to support you by acupuncturist, Lisa Crowe, and naturopathic doctor, Cresencia Felty. You can contact Lisa at email@example.com and Cresencia at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to book an appointment with either practitioner, please contact Balance Health and Wellness at 773-472-0560.