Friday, August 15, 2014

Preparing for Autumn

By Mary Oleksowicz, MSTOM , L.Ac.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the year is divided into five rather than four seasons. For many of us in the Northeastern United States, it appears that the autumn season is already upon us. With cooler temperatures and drier weather at hand, it is now time to begin preparing for autumn.

The energy requirements of the earth change as autumn approaches. The days become shorter and the kinetic frenzy of summer spontaneity ends. Autumn is a time of reflection, inventory and storage. It is a wonderful time to inventory your pantry and closets, giving away unwanted items to charity.
In addition to switching our wardrobes, it is now time to change our food selections and daily rhythms.  Slowly moving your food selections from the raw, cooling foods of summer to the roasted foods of autumn helps the body to transition to autumnal patterns.

Elements in Traditional Chinese Medicine


A wonderful way to prepare the body for the seasonal change is to brew a change of season tea or soup. Below is a traditional concoction for this transition.  As with any herbal use, please contact your doctor to be certain this decoction is  safe for you based on your health history. Please do not use if you are currently experiencing cold or flu symptoms.

You will begin by selecting equal parts (approximately three ounces each) of the following herbs .

Huang Qi (Astragalus root): Helps to strengthen the body's immunity known as “wei“ qi . It nourishes the spleen, a key organ in the Eastern digestive process and tonifies the lungs to help with respiratory infections.

Dang Shen (Codonopsis pilosula root): Strengthens the general energy or qi of the body. It also helps to tonify body fluids. This helpful herb prevents the dryness associated with the season.

Gou Qi Zi (Lychii/wolf berries): A natural sweet addition to the tea or broth.  Lycii berries help to strengthen the liver and the kidneys.

Shan Yao (Dioscorea/wild yam): Known to tonify the lungs and the support system for respiratory health,  the kidneys.


 Quickly pre- rinse the herbs. Fill a large stock pot with water and add the above herbs. Be sure that the herbs are completely covered by the water. Bring the herbs to a boil, apply the pot lid and reduce the mixture to a simmer. Brew for two to four hours.  Using a slotted spoon or strainer, remove the herbs from the pot and allow the tea to cool. A crockpot can be used as well if there are time constraints. You may take about 2 cups per day as a tea for up to 14 days. You may also use the decoction as a base for soup recipes by adding in herbs like ginger and garlic, seasonal root vegetables, or chicken/chicken broth.

Next time, we will visit ways to tonify or strengthen your lungs, the organs most associated with autumn in Traditional Chinese Medicine.


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