Traditional Chinese Medicine’s (TCM) theory teaches that we are part of Nature and are made up of her elements: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal. Each element has corresponding organ systems and their functions. The Five Elements is an ancient elaboration of the endocrine system.
- Water: Kidney, bladder, adrenals, fluid balance, hormones and immunity
- Wood: Liver, gallbladder, muscles, tendons, energizing action and enthusiasm, storing blood
- Fire: Heart, small intestine, triple heater meridian, circulation
- Earth: Stomach, spleen/pancreas, our digestive and emotional center
- Metal: Lung, Large Intestine, Skin, breathing, nutrient absorption and elimination of wastes
The TCM Correspondences
TCM further weaves an elegant web of correspondences between those Elements and a season of the year and medicinal flavors of foods and herbs. This helps us to understand how to support the Element’s particular energy as it exists within us.
- We have the warmth of Fire in us. Our heart stirs circulation to warm us and gives a healthy glow to our skin. The Fire Element corresponds to the warmth of Summer in North America. The flavor that stirs the heart to action is bitter like tea. Chinese teas are our daily comfort that both energizes and detoxifies the body, enlivens the mind and soothes emotions. https://winghopfung.com/collections/tea-1
- Earth, our center, the stomach and spleen/pancreas, “cooks” our food in order to build blood and enhance energy. That process of change corresponds to the change of seasons and late summer. The flavor associated with Earth is sweet, like the semi-sweet blood tonics used in Chinese medicine which are dried fruits: jujube date, goji berry, longan fruit, and dong quai a semi-sweet tuber. They enhance health and beauty by increasing blood supply and supporting the digestive organs. https://winghopfung.com/search?q=jujube+red+date
The Metal Element and Autumn
It is the Metal Element whose qualities are most pronounced in the autumn season. Metal (lung, large intestine, skin) is our connection with Spirit. We inhale air that penetrates every cell, nourishing growth and change. The large intestine separates pure foods from poisons which are eliminated. When we eat foods, according to ancient Chinese medical texts, “a vapor” rises to the lungs. What we eat, whether hot/drying, cold/moistening, affects our lungs and breathing and eventually our skin.
Nourishing and Balancing the Metal Element
So what are the tools we have to ensure that the Metal within us is well nourished and its power available?
Any time you pause and breathe slowly & intentionally - including through practices such as Qigong and Yoga - you are supporting lung strength, your immune and nervous systems and mental clarity.
Foods that Energize Breathing
Certain pungent foods are especially helpful to clear congestion and deepen breath:
- Ginger, radish, onions, and cauliflower help clear phlegm
- Turnips nourish and soothe the thyroid to reduce stress
- Pears and grapes are moistening for thick congestion
Wing Hop Fung Foods and Herbs Used as Medicines
Do you have shortness of breath? Adaptogens help support deeper breath by easing tensions and enhancing immunity to illness:
Ginsengs enhance Qi energy.
- American ginseng is cooling, moistening, useful for diabetes https://winghopfung.com/collections/wild-ginseng
- Chinese and Korean red ginsengs increase Qi, vitality, sexuality, endurance are warming and energizing https://winghopfung.com/collections/korean-ginseng
- Reishi mushroom, astragalus, cordyceps enhance immunity, reduce inflammation https://winghopfung.com/collections/ganoherb
- Heart tonics such as danshen ease circulation, help reduce congestion and low mood. https://winghopfung.com/products/salvia-miltiorrhiza-bge-dan-shen-16oz?_pos=3&_sid=a8010437f&_ss=r#
Do you have a dry cough and chronic thirst? Lung moistening herbs support healthy lung tissue and deepen breath for people who have chronic fever, diabetes or those who smoke.
- Lily Bulb (long ya bai he) https://winghopfung.com/search?q=lily+bulb
- Monk fruit (lo han quo) a healthy sugar substitute cools lung inflammation https://winghopfung.com/search?q=lo+han+quo
- Bird’s Nest extracts and dried nests support healthy lungs, stomach, and kidney and supply nutrients that help beautify the skin. https://winghopfung.com/collections/instant-birds-nest
- Lung Moisturizing Soup Package SKU 412432 combines dried herbs that help resolve lung congestion and help prevent respiratory disease https://winghopfung.com/products/lung-moisturization-soup-6oz?_pos=1&_sid=0096d4446&_ss=r#
Yin-Enhancing Foods Correct Dryness
Yin or moisture, body fluids, blood are all necessary for healthy organs including the lungs, stomach, liver and kidney. Fish maw soup is a moistening, rejuvenating food that is fun to cook anytime, but especially useful in Autumn or used to improve chronic skin dryness and thirst.
Fish maw is rich in protein, collagen, phosphorus and calcium. It is regarded as a treasure for women that nourishes the entire body. It is a precious food that is moisturizing and rejuvenating. Fish maw is sweet, mild and rejuvenating for kidney and liver and their meridians. It invigorates the kidney and is nourishing for muscles and veins. It reduces excess bleeding, regulates circulation to remove blood stasis, and reduces swelling.
Fish maw is a delicacy served during special occasions like Chinese New Year. However its nutrition is valuable year-round: Rich in collagen, fish maw is a Chinese beauty secret for youthful skin. Fish maw replenishes the tissue, moisture, and fluids of lung, stomach, liver, and kidney. It boosts stamina and helps prevent burnout. Furthermore, fish maw does not contain cholesterol and therefore it is a very valuable health-enhancing ingredient suitable for long time consumption.
Fish maw is the dried form of fresh, high-quality air bladders of fish, which are rich in gelatin
Soak and Cook Fish Maw
Boil the dried fish maw with slices of gingers and shallots to remove the fishy smell. Rinse. Simmer the Fish Maw for 30 seconds then let it cool with the lid on until it is softened, about 8-9 hours or overnight. Finally, rinse the puffed Fish Maw again and it is ready to cook. Cut it into pieces and cook it until tender in soup or stir-fry. https://winghopfung.com/products/dried-fish-maw-46016oz?_pos=4&_sid=ba0973db3&_ss=r#
As we secure our relationship to our inner Self, as days grow short, as Nature slows and recedes within, so do we. We meditate, connect with the rhythms of the natural world wherever possible and conserve our precious energy in order to thrive, mature and share our love and wisdom.
Rest & reconnect: May this help you to experience balance in your body, mind & spirit as we move through the autumn season, and know the harmony that comes from attuning to the cycles of Nature.