Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) appreciates the falling of leaves, the harvesting of crops and the slowing and cooling of the energies of nature that happens in autumn. It appreciates these things because as TCM practitioners we know that our bodies reflect many of the aspects of our natural world.

Though the darkening days and transition away from the warm weather can leave us with a feeling of loss, this process of "letting go" is important.
Fall is a time of refinement, getting rid of things that are not serving us.

One way to do that is through the breath. Both the physical lungs and the TCM Lungs* control the breath. The Lungs and Large Intestines are the organs most closely related to the fall season. Both can be thought of as organs of elimination. The large intestines obviously eliminate digestive waste. The lungs eliminate respiratory waste.

The Lungs also control the skin. Your skin breathes too. Sweating can help detoxify the body and cleanse the skin; but too much sweating drains the Lung energy. Because the Lungs also help with managing the distribution of water through our bodies, it is important to make sure that you stay hydrated, especially as you lose fluid through sweat.

One of the times that sweating can be specifically therapeutic is when you have the start of a cold or flu. An elevated temperature–or fever–is one of the ways that your body can defend itself against infection. At the early signs of infection, helping bring on a sweat by eating spicy food, garlic or onions; spending time in a sauna or hot bath; and exercising (if energy permits) may help fight off a cold. Pay attention to how you feel, however, as rest rather than exercise may be your better option in some situations. Still, you can bundle up in warm blankets after a hot soup or tea that contains garlic, onions, ginger, and/or honey to sweat while you sleep.

When you are well, foods that support the Lungs and Large Intestines include white foods such as pears, radishes, daikon radish, cauliflower, and cabbage. Herbs like reishi mushrooms and astragalus support the Lung energy and the immune system.

Go back to the breath. Expand your chest, open your lungs, and breathe in deep to honour and nourish your powerful body!



The Fire Element

Below is a table summarizing the basic correspondences associated with the Fire element in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The Fire Element: Chart of Correspondences

The Fire Element: Chart of Correspondences

The heart's main function is to pump oxygen-rich blood through the body. In Chinese medicine, mental activity is associated with the heart and therefore memory, thought processes, emotional well-being, and consciousness are also attributed to the heart and fire element. When the fire element is in balance, the heart is strong and healthy, the mind is calm and sleep is sound. When the fire element is imbalanced, we may either lack joy (depression) or have an excess of joy (mania). Indicators of an imbalance in the fire element include agitation, nervousness, heartburn, and insomnia.

Fire is associated with the Summer season and with heat. The element is associated with the heart, pericardium, small intestines and related to the tongue. Emotionally, this element is associated with the mind and it's stability. The heart is the "seat" of the mind and its highest expression is love. Enthusiasm, warmth in human relationships and conscious awareness.

The heart Chakra is the center of the Chakra system and is the integrator of opposites in the psyche: mind and body, male and female, persona and shadow, ego and unity. When imbalanced, we may lack joy (depression) or have an excess of joy (maniac condition).

Fire is symbolic of maximum activity or greatest Yang; nature at its peak of growth, and the motion is upward. Agitation, nervous exhaustion, heartburn and insomnia are other indicators of imbalance in this area. Physically, when the fire element is balanced, the heart properly governs and circulates the blood and insures proper assimilation of the beginning breakdown of food in the small intestines. Emotionally, when the fire element is balanced, sensitivity and expression, true fulfillment and the equilibrium between heart and mind are our greatest rewards.

The season is filled with abundant energy, long days and sunshine. This is the most Yang time of year. Summer is about expansion, growth, activity and creativity.

Tips for Summer Health

To prevent summer ills and remain in harmony with the environment of summer:

Summer Health

  • Awaken earlier in the morning.
  • Go to bed later in the evening.
  • Rest at midday.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Add pungent flavors to your diet.
  • Refrain from anger; keep calm and even-tempered.
  • Keep water with slices of lemon and cucumber and sip throughout day.
  • Eat in moderation - over consumption of food, especially cooling foods, can lead to indigestion, sluggishness and possibly diarrhea.
  • Stay away from dairy, heavy, greasy, and fried foods. Eating Under the Sun In summer, indigestion can easily occur, so a light and less-greasy diet is recommended.
It is the perfect season to introduce cool, Yin foods into your diet. Chinese nutrition classifies food according to its energetic qualities of temperature, taste, and ability to moisten and strengthen the body. Food with cool/cold properties can clear heat, reduce toxins, and generate body fluids.

In general, cooling foods tend towards the green spectrum – lettuce, cucumbers, and watercress are some of the coolest. Few vegetables are warming. Fish and seafood are also cooling, while most meats are warming.

Suggestions to keep you cool and balanced all summer long. These fruits and vegetables will help body adjust its temperature during the long, hot summer days:


Watermelon, Apricot, Cantaloupe, Lemon, Peach, Orange, Asparagus, Sprouts, Bamboo, Bok choy, Broccoli, Chinese cabbage, Corn, Cucumber, White mushroom, Snow peas, Spinach, Summer squash, Watercress, Seaweed, Mung means, Cilantro, Mint and Dill

May Special

Happy Joyous Spring!



Spring is the ideal time for cleansing and rejuvenation for overall health and well-being. As spring is represented by the wood element and includes the Liver and its complementary organ, the Gallbladder, these two organs are usually the primary targets for springtime cleansing and health regimens.
  • Element: Wood
  • Color: Green
  • Nature: Yang
  • Organs: Liver, Gallbladder
  • Emotion: Anger
Put Some Spring into Your Step
Spring corresponds to the "Wood" element, which in turn is conceptually related to the liver and gallbladder organs. According to the philosophy of Chinese medicine, the liver is responsible for the smooth flowing of Qi (energy) throughout the body. When the liver functions smoothly, physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly. So, for optimum health this spring, move your Qi!

Stretch - The liver controls the tendons. According to Chinese medicine, the Liver stores blood during periods of rest and then releases it to the tendons in times of activity, maintaining tendon health and flexibility. Incorporate a morning stretch into your routine. Try yoga, Tai Qi, or Qi Gong.

Eye Exercises - The liver opens into the eyes. Although all the organs have some connection to the health of the eyes, the liver is connected to proper eye function. Remember to take breaks when looking at a computer monitor for extended periods of time and do eye exercises.

Eat Green - Green is the color of the liver and of springtime. Eating young plants - fresh, leafy greens, sprouts, and immature cereal grasses - can improve the liver's overall functions and aid in the movement of qi.

Taste Sour - Foods and drinks with sour tastes are thought to stimulate the Liver's qi. Put lemon slices in your drinking water, use vinegar and olive oil for your salad dressing. Garnish your sandwich with a slice of dill pickle.

Do more outdoor activities - Outside air helps liver qi flow. If you have been feeling irritable, find an outdoor activity to smooth out that liver qi stagnation. Try hiking or take up golf.

Enjoy milk thistle tea Milk thistle helps protect liver cells from incoming toxins and encourages the liver to cleanse itself of damaging substances, such as alcohol, medications, pesticides, environmental toxins, and even heavy metals such as mercury.

Get Acupuncture treatments - Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help improve the overall health of your Liver as well as treat stress, anger, and frustration, which are often associated with liver qi disharmony.

Kidney / Water


Adrenal-Gland Health According to Traditional Chinese Medicine

The fundamental principle of health and healing in TCM is the concept of balance. The body contains both Yin and Yang Qi and in health, the relaxed Yin state balances the adrenal Yang state. Issues in the body arise when there is an excess or deficiency of either Yin or Yang.

In TCM the adrenal glands are part of the water element and relate to the Kidney energy. The Kidneys are considered to be the single most important organ affecting the length and quality of our lives. They control the internal Qi of the body; the Yin/Yang balance; the Jing, which is our life force; our aliveness, creative power and essence. Abundant Kidney Qi correlates to a strong sense of purpose and will as well as a strong physical constitution.

Since the Adrenals relate to Kidney Qi, Adrenal Fatigue is considered to be a Kidney Yang Deficiency. However, if the condition continues without treatment, it can also result in a Kidney Yin Deficiency.

Winter is the season belonging to the Kidney in TCM, and therefore is the most important time to strengthen the function of the Kidney. Rest is important for revitalizing the Kidneys. It is a good time to look inward, reflecting on ourselves with practices such as-- meditation, writing, yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong, which help to connect to our inner selves, which supports Kidney energy.


Lettuce, watercress, endive, escarole, turnip
Celery, asparagus, alfalfa, carrot tops
Rye, oats, quinoa, amaranth
Citrus peel, cranberries, cabbage
Chicory root, burdock
MIso, seaweeds
Salt, millet, barley
Warm hearty soups
Roasted nuts, especially walnuts
Small dark beans
Winter greens
Micro algae - Spirulina, wild blue green
Bone broth & marrow

Energy Foods

Also, to boost the energy of your Lung Power in Winter, try brewing a cup of famous 'Jade Windscreen Tea.'

5g Chinese Parsnip Root
10g Astragalus Root
10g Atractylodes Rhizome

Method: Boil together in 400-600ml of pure water. Then lower the heat, cover the pot and let simmer for 30-45 minutes. Turn off the heat, leave it covered and let it rest for 15 minutes. Then filter the tea and serve. This tea can be used for the prevention- but not treatment- of colds and flu.

Wishing you good health in the New Year!

Dr. Zellda Keath, MSOM, DA, LAc
NCCAOM Diplomate of Acupuncture
Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine