Getting Ready for Autumn with Acupuncture!
Autumn is upon us, and children are returning to school, the days are getting shorter, nights are getting longer and colder. Crops are ready to be harvested. And it is time to start reaping the abundance of the harvest by incorporating more warming, cooked foods back into our diets. And I’m not talking about pumpkin spice lattes! Acupuncture is a great way to make sure that you feel your best this fall!
In Chinese medicine, living in harmony with the seasons is one way to ensure optimal health. The Chinese believe that the environment in which you live dramatically influences your body, mind, and spirit.
Autumn corresponds to the metal in the Chinese five-element theory. Metal represents many concepts, such as:
· Harvest, decline, and reduction
· Turning inward, self-reflection and letting go
· Lungs, large intestine, skin, and mucous membranes
· The sense of smell
· Emotions of sadness, grief, hope, and inspiration
To stay balanced during autumn months, the Huang Di Nei Jing, the oldest Chinese medical book, advises us to go to bed early to avoid the chilliness of night, but rise early to enjoy the crispness of the morning air. The cool-dryness of the autumn air can affect the lungs making us more susceptible to catching colds and cases of flu. It is best to stay out of the elements as much as we can, but if that is unavoidable, dress appropriately for the weather, especially by covering your neck to help guard against illness.
Balancing our spirit and emotions is also a good practice during autumn months, according to the Huang Di Nei Jing. Autumn is a time for self-reflection and letting go of habits that no longer serve us, making room in our lives for other pursuits. Unfortunately, this practice sometimes stirs up sadness, grief, depression, or anxiety in the process. Gentle balancing practices such as Qi Gong, yoga, and meditation can help regulate the mood and spirit.
In Chinese medicine, food is medicine. After the salad days of summer, it is appropriate to start incorporating more cooked dishes back into your diets, such as soups and stews. Certain foods also have properties to help nourish the lungs and large intestine, as well as guard against illness and the cool-dryness of autumn. These foods include:
· Napa cabbage
· Egg whites
· Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds
· Shiitake mushrooms
The Chinese believe that preventative medicine is best through diet and lifestyle, but if you find yourself with a cold or having a hard time managing autumn emotions acupuncture, cupping, and Chinese herbal medicine can help as well. Common herbal remedies for colds are Yin Qiao San, Cold Quell, and Gan Mao Ling. And there are many for regulating mood. Please schedule an appointment to see which type of treatment and or herbal remedy is best for you.
So embrace some self-reflection and the cool-dryness of the season while enjoying a wholesome bowl of pumpkin soup, maybe instead of that pumpkin spice latte.
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Serving size: 2-3
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
One ½-2 C Roasted pumpkin packed (small pie pumpkins work best)
3/4 C Leeks chopped
4 Tablespoons Olive oil plus more to brush the pumpkin for roasting
One ½-2 C Vegetable stock or Chicken Bone Broth
¼ C Coconut milk or Heavy Cream
½ Teaspoon Apple cider vinegar or to taste (optional)
1 Tablespoon of fresh thyme
Salt & pepper to taste
Chives chopped, for garnish (optional)
Pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional)
1. Cut one or two pumpkins in half, remove the seeds, brush with olive oil and roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, depending on size, and remove the skin. The pumpkin is ready when it can be punctured with a fork easily.
2. Sauté leeks in olive oil until they turn translucent. Add fresh Thyme and continue to sauté until leeks are starting to brown. Add roasted pumpkin and vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.
3. Use a regular blender or immersion blender to puree the soup. Depending on how thick the puree is, you may need to add more stock. The soup should be thick, but pourable.
4. Stir in the coconut milk or heavy cream. Add more if you prefer it creamier. Next, add apple cider vinegar to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh chives and or pumpkin seeds.