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Our Metal Element in Autumn

Our Metal Element in Autumn

, by Web Admin, 6 min reading time

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. 


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.
  • 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.

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?

Our Breath

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. 

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. 

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 

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.

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.


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