Eight Red Garnets - Wellness Center
Autumn Newsletter 2019


We continue on with our discussion of Chinese medicine based on a seasonal model.

Autumn has arrived in NYC and the shift in weather and light is upon us. In the Chinese medicine five element theory, which is based on a seasonal model and is the philosophical basis for our discussions, we are in the season of the "Metal" Element.

The organ systems related to the Metal Element are the respiratory system, Lungs and the elimination system of the Large Intestine.  In terms of Yin/Yang balance, the most basic tenet of Chinese medicine theory, autumn and  the Metal Element are considered more Yin than the seasons we just past through of spring and summer which are Yang. Yin is a cooler, darker, more introverted aspect of the energetic model. In the early phase of the autumn season, we experience the aspect of Yang moving to Yin, and then the end of the season is the movement into full Yin as we enter the winter months, the most Yin time of year.

Autumn is an amazing transitional season with an abundance of color and  produce in the markets. It is a time when we still have the Yang energy of summer circulating which allows us to engage in bringing a renewed vigor to projects and goals that are pending and to enhance forward motion. This is represented by the Lungs inhaling and circulating Qi and vigor in the body. It is also a good time to continue to release attachments to things, situations and habituations that no longer serve us. Just as the trees release the leaves and the Large Intestine clears waste from the body, autumn is about letting go. In having the courage to release and then not refill space with, or because of, old feelings, we create room for new opportunities to present themselves. It is sometimes hard to trust this process and remain neutral as shifts occur and new options begin to surface but with patience, the transformation will emerge. 

The tug towards warmer, cooked, spicy foods is organic and the aromas of autumn represent that. The spices of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg help to keep the body warm and support the immune system as it navigates the change in weather.

Pumpkin, a quintessential symbol of autumn, is abundantly available at this time of year and can be used for so much more than decoration or a Jack-O- Lantern. Pumpkin is a nutritious fruit/vegetable, one that can be easily added to the diet to benefit health.  It can be roasted, pureed into a soup and baked in casseroles. It is used in baked goods and to flavor foods at this time of year; be aware that the nutritional value of pumpkin is diminished when it is paired with an overload of sugar. 

Pumpkin is nutrient dense; it contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and is rich in fiber. The beautiful orange color of the pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene; this ingredient in pumpkin converts to vitamin A in the body and is helpful for eye health.  The pumpkin also has lutein and zeaxanthin  two more compounds that support eye health and lower the risks of elevated eye disorders, like macular degeneration and cataracts. 

Some of the nutrients in pumpkin are: vitamins A, C, B2, E, potassium, copper, manganese and iron. Vitamin A has a specific relationship of support for the lung tissue, this is important in autumn when folks begin to get respiratory issues, the vitamin A helps the Lungs to both ward off illness as well as heal from a respiratory issue. A caution about vitamin A as a supplement, do not exceed directions on bottle, more is not better. The vitamin C in the pumpkin is also an immune supporting vitamin and again has a particular affinity for the Lung's immunity and health. The manganese and iron are blood builders and this is relevant at this time of year because as cold weather begins to take precedence over warm weather, we need to build and thicken our blood to keep us warm.  

One can also use the pulp of the pumpkin for a post-summer exfoliating, hydrating and soothing face mask. Here is one idea for preparing a face mask:
 1/4 cup of pureed pumpkin pulp, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 tablespoon of milk, mix ingredients very well, apply to face for 15-20 minutes. Remove with cool water and apply your normal moisturizer. This will help the facial skin make a smooth transition from summer to autumn. Of course, skin test the mask first to be sure you don't have an adverse reaction to the ingredients and if you have allergies to any of the ingredients, this is not the mask for your particular face. In Chinese medicine the skin is an extension of the Lung's organic system, so including a facial in autumn is healthy. 

Pumpkin seeds are also good for health, the seeds have the same nutrient qualities that the pulp has; in addition, the seeds may be of assistance in cardiovascular function and in bladder and prostate health. One can add shelled pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, to salads, toppings on soups, in shakes, on top of a vegetable dish or in autumn bread  and as a snack. They are delicious all year long. All around, the abundant  pumpkin and it's seeds are supportive of human health.

Autumn is the time of year when acute respiratory issues begin to appear and folks get colds/flu with nasal congestion, coughing and headaches. The acupuncture meridians of the Lung and Large Intestine are very useful in treating these colds/flu. You can see from the diagram that the Large Intestine meridian, aka: Shou Yang Ming, traverses the nasal area and it's points are used for local discomfort. Also along this meridian is one of the most versatile acupuncture points, Large Intestine 4, aka Hegu/Joining Valley, this is an excellent distal point for nasal obstruction and the accompanying headache. If you are experiencing a cold/flu, keep acupuncture in mind as a treatment to help resolve the accompanying discomforts.

Speaking of colds/flu, many have begun to use their stash of EmergenC packets on a regular basis. My suggestion for the use of the packets is to take half a packet at a time, for example: mid-morning and mid-afternoon. The full packet of the supplement is very strong and will spike the immune system but this can be jarring and too much at one time, the body then takes a dip after the spike which can then actually leave it a bit vulnerable. It is more effective to spread out the support of the formula. The time you might consider use of the full packet is for a first dose; if you feel you have been exposed to a germ or if you know you are fighting something then it is helpful to hit it strongly and follow up doses can be as suggested above. Keep in mind the packet ingredients are stimulating so best not to take too late in the day. The other time you might need to use a full packet is if you have a cold and have no option to change your schedule for an important meeting, performance or travel. The full packet can help you push through but after the completion of obligation try to get extra rest.

This is the season I remind you to be consistent with cleaning the nasal passages with daily use of your neti pot. It absolutely keeps the nasal passages and Lungs clear and clean so there is less stagnated mucus. Stagnated mucus is an inviting area for bacteria to lodge. It is also important to hydrate to keep the delicate membranes of lung tissue supple. If the nasal passages or lung tissue are dry it is easier for germs to lodge. I often suggest eating, in moderate amounts, the fruits of the season that lubricate the organic system: pears, grapes, Asian pears and to a certain extent, apples. 

Autumn is an excellent time to resume, start, or continue, work with breath and meditation. We discussed earlier that the respiratory system is the main focus of the organic body at this time of year, so what better time than now to gently work with the Lungs circulation of the precious life force of the breath, aka: Prana and Qi. One can sit for just 5 minutes and gently focus on the breath at home, or one can engage in instructive classes in breathing and meditation. If this is new for you, please start slow, go easy and only practice for short periods; consistency is the most critical component of any breathing or meditative practice. 

One important aspect of mindfulness in breathing, mediation and consciousness in daily life is to check the position of your tongue in your mouth. Is it stuck to the upper palette? Then it is tense, the jaw is tense and the mind is tense. Release and relax your tongue to the lower palette and the mind and body will relax. This is crucial during breathing and mediation practices. This simple, gentle practice is an excellent way for New Yorkers to catch a bit of reconnection to self while on the subway or bus. Please don't do this while you are engaging with your electronic device, take a few moments each day to disengage from the electronics and have a few conscious, mindful moments to fully breathe, circulate the Lungs Qi  and relax the mind
On the classical music radio station WQXR there is recent, lovely program called, "The Open Ears Project". The daily segments in the program are short, they include one piece of music and the individual's relationship to the music. Many of the stories attached to the music are meditative, thoughtful and always inspiring. If you have a chance to log onto the station on your PC or laptop look for this program and give a listen, it will bring a sense of calm and human community to our hectic and fractured timeframe.

Wishing you a happy and healthy autumn season. 

As always, I look forward to continuing to serve you and support your healing journey. I appreciate your trust in Chinese medicine and my delivery of the precious medicine  to you. Your referral of spouse, family members, colleagues, patients, neighbors and friends is always greatly appreciated, it is "word of mouth" referrals that allows the practice to grow and thrive. 

Thank you.