Greetings! This is a slightly revised version of a blog I wrote several years ago which I'm reposting because it's so relevant today as we move through Autumn into Winter facing a worldwide health challenge. Here at home, we also experienced intense fire burning through several of our local towns, bringing devastation, displacing many people, along with additional challenges to immune and lung health, along with stress, which I'll address in later posts.
The ancient Chinese Taoists lived in harmony with the seasons to preserve health. Their detailed observations and advice is preserved in classical texts such as the Nei-Jing. Each season correlates with specific qualities and energetic systems of the body. Autumn is the season of the Lungs and we're advised to practice Qi Gong to keep the lung energy full, clean, and quiet.
Here in Southern Oregon, we experienced many weeks of smoky air due to wildfires. Because of this, many people's respiratory and immune systems were challenged. Often, during these times, I would see a lot of folks with coughs, allergies, sinus issues, or other respiratory distress especially with the dryer air, cooler weather, and windy days. Thankfully, Chinese herbal medicine offers very a wide variety of herbal formula that are specific for each phase of lung challenges. Herbs are carefully combined to accurately treat the root cause of the issue and support the body's healing response.
The Lungs are considered the "tender organ" because the tissues need to be moist and are susceptible to heat and dryness. The Lungs play a key role in the overall vital energy (Qi) of the body, because the air we breath combines with the food we eat to form Qi which is necessary for all our physiological functions. Indeed, after a respiratory illness, it is especially important to give herbs specific to restore health, moisture, and resilience to the lungs. Years ago, I came home from a trip with likely pneumonia and couldn’t work or go anywhere for about a month. Luckily, my clinic and herbal pharmacy were in the studio next door and I prepared Chinese herbs for myself daily. Once I was well enough to go anywhere, I went to see my mentor for ongoing treatment with acupuncture and he blended herbal formulas specific for my needs to restore health to my lungs.
During illness, a Chinese medicine practitioner blends herbal formulas or uses prepared formulas that are specific for their diagnosis of the symptoms based on observation, pulse, tongue, and other factors. Very different herbs are given for dry cough or a cough with phlegm. There can be several underlying causes for a dry cough, unique to each individual.
In Chinese medicine supporting the person's natural healing capacity is of prime importance. It is essential to protect and support the terrain of the person even while dealing with illness. Combining herbs to create a balanced formula, that is adjusted or changed as the person progresses, helps support the healing process without side-effects and in a way that is harmonious with normal body functions.
I suggest you find a Chinese medicine practitioner in your area who is well-trained in the art of herbal medicine along with skillful pulse diagnosis to create herbal formulas specific for your needs.
For yourself, Chinese folk wisdom teaches that self-care for lung health in fall and winter is to keep the wind off your neck and shoulders. Wrap your head, neck, and shoulders with cozy hats, sweaters, and scarves. Enjoy warm foods, soups, and stews to keep the metabolism and Qi warm and healthy. Thyme is a powerful herb for lung health, is antibacterial, and delicious in soups. Baked apples and pears with cinnamon, ginger powder, and cardamom are tonic for the Lungs.
Schisandra berries are one of my favorite and most excellent adaptogenic herb for lung health. Elder berries are one of the best, natural antiviral herbs for the lungs. Add a teaspoon to herbal tea when you get a cold or flu and it may help speed recovery. And of course, Rose Hips are delicious in herbal tisanes, as jam or jelly, and are wonderful for immune health!
Winter Herbal Tea
When I create my autumn and winter herbal teas at home, I always include Schisandra berries, Elder berries, and Rose Hips for their wonderful nourishing properties.
You can purchase bulk organic herbal teas at your local health food store and create your own blends. Only buy organic!
Don't worry about measurements. Experiment and create something you enjoy. Only small amounts of berries are needed as they are powerful.
Nettles Herb & Oatstraw - equal parts. These impart many nutrients and minerals.
Small amount of each: Elder Berries, Schisandra Berries, Rose Hips
Marshmallow Root - about half as much as the Nettles/Oatstraw
Eleuthero Root or Powder - a small amount. Great nourishing herb for the colder seasons.
Hibiscus Flowers or Rooibus tea - nourishing teas that also give a beautiful red color to the tea.