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Putting Your Oxygen Mask on First – Taking Care of Yourself in Fall

The theories of Chinese medicine suggest that each season relates to a different organ system. The Fall is the season of the Lungs. It’s the time of year when people are easily affected by environmental influences.

Here are 7 ways you can build up your immune system:

  1. Wear a scarf

When I was at the Midwest College of Oriental Medicine, my professors were constantly telling us to wear scarves. Pathogens such as cold and wind invade the body at the back of the neck, so it is very important to keep that area protected. Even if it is sunny, bring a scarf along.

2. Breathe

Breathe through your nose and focus on how your belly fills up with air. With your shoulders back, keep one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. As you breathe in deeply for about 2 seconds, your belly should stick out a bit. Feel the air expanding your stomach and then breathe out slowly through the lips. Hold that breath for a count of five and slowly exhale out of your mouth trying to get all of your breath exhaled from the very bottom of the lungs. You can repeat this several times as well as a few times throughout the day. Not only will this help build your lung Qi, it will also relax and center you.

3. Do acupressure on Lung 7

One of the best points for strengthening the Lung organ is Lung 7. It a great point for a cough, shortness of breath and for nasal congestion. It’s also one of the most effective points for neck pain and stiffness. As mentioned above, wearing a scarf helps, but for protecting yourself against any residual wind or muscular tension, Lung 7 can become very useful. To access it, make a thumbs-up sign. When you do that, you’ll see a depression at the base of your thumb (referred to as the anatomical snuffbox). From that depression, Lung 7 is located approximately two finger widths up your arm.

4. Eat warm foods

In summertime we eat raw and fresh fruits and vegetables. For our bodies, digesting these raw foods can use up a lot of our Qi (energy), but in the summer the heat of the summer can balance some of this as the raw foods have a more cooling aspect to them. As we transition to autumn, it is also a time to transition our diet and move towards warm, cooked foods. Have oatmeal for breakfast instead of cold cereal with milk. Shift from salads to oven-roasted veggies over brown rice. Cook with onions, ginger, garlic or mustard—these pungent foods are known to benefit the Lung. Eat root vegetables such as beets, turnips, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and squash. If you go for out-of-season vegetables, make sure they are cooked. Instead of berries and melons, eat seasonal fruits like apples, pears, grapes, figs or persimmons.

5. Stay hydrated

Dryness of all kinds is common in fall. Since Lung is the most exterior organ, it’s the organ that relates most closely to the skin. Dry skin, dry eyes, rashes and nose bleeds tend to demonstrate themselves in fall. Drink a lot of water and keep your skin hydrated to reduce these symptoms. Another reason to stay hydrated is to regulate digestion. The Lung’s paired organ is Large Intestine, so sometimes digestive issues can flare up this time of year. Constipation, due to the dryness of the season, is quite common (especially in people who struggle with the emotional “letting go” aspect of transitioning into fall).

6. Have First Defense herbal tea on hand

Stop by the office to pick up a box of First Defense. As soon as I notice the first signs of a cold or flu, I start taking First Defense. In the past few years, there is only one time that I still got sick. The herbs boost my immunity enough to fight off the virus.

7. Stay on the offensive with essential oils

Blend 3 drops of clove, 2 drops of white fir, and 4 drops of lemon essential oils. Rub on the bottoms of your feet for five consecutive nights to boost your immune system during the transition to fall. To order essential oils, you can call me at 815.814.1319 or order online.

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