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Autumn Colds – How Chinese Medicine May Help

Autumn Colds

Do you catch a cold easily at this time of year? Did you know that looking after your lung and colon health may help avoid future colds, escaping that yearly pattern of September sickness?


Why Do People Catch Colds Easily At The Change Of Season?

The change in weather at this time of year often catches people off guard, caught up in the last days of summer, people brush off that cold Autumn breeze trying to make the most of their summer wardrobe!


Instead, we should be protecting ourselves from the wind, particularly the neck area where the wind is known to invade.


Did you know, the Chinese describe the wind as ‘carrier of one hundred and one evils’ as when it invades the body illness prevails. As seasonal energy shifts, it can sometimes leave us feeling imbalanced and susceptible to illness.


Why are the lung and colon important for immunity?

One of the main functions of the lung in Chinese Medicine is to aid immunity against illness and move fluids throughout the body. Together, the lung and colon form the ‘metal element’ in Chinese Medicine and metal corresponds to the Autumn.


This means their energy is now at its strongest and it’s a good time to pay particular attention to nourishing them.


Metal is said to help you ‘let go’ of unnecessary things, from emotions to the more physiological such as food and metabolic waste.


Signs that your lung and colon energy may be imbalanced

Catching colds easily, a runny nose, sinus problems, sneezing or poor sense of smell may all indicate an imbalance in your lung energy. Equally, on an emotional level, if you cry easily or struggle to process grief this may point to the lungs. Constipation can also be experienced as like the weather outside, things are ‘drying out’ and dehydrating.


Think of the crisp tree leaves, drying out before they fall! The lungs also govern the skin quality, the skin is seen as the second lung, exchanging substances with the outer environment. Therefore unhealthy skin without vitality can be a sign of poor lung energy.


4 Tips To Nourish Your Lung And Colon Energy



Acupuncture can reduce the inflammation that leads to poor immunity and stimulates the neurohormonal pathways that send messages to the brain to release hormones. Several well-timed acupuncture treatments throughout the earlier part of the year may help improve your overall immunity and you will be more able to fend off illness later in the year.


If you are displaying any of the symptoms above that indicate a potential imbalance it may be a good idea to make an appointment with your practitioner.



Incorporate foods that counteract the drying nature of the Autumn such as Pears, apples, honey, rice, sesame, bone broth, radish, white meats, white mushrooms, onion, garlic, turnip and beans. Pungent spices that help open the lungs and move the lung qi include ginseng, ginger, fennel, cinnamon, and nutmeg.


Try to reduce or avoid phlegm forming foods such as dairy products or high oil foods such as nut butters. Also staying well hydrated will counteract any dryness.



It probably comes as no surprise that the lung energy can be strengthened by breathwork! A brisk walk in the fresh air, swimming, yoga or Qi Gong are all good examples of exercise which will nourish the lungs.


Using your diaphragm to take deep breaths and drawing your shoulders back. Allowing the chest area to open fully relaxing the intercostal muscles will also build the power of the lung Qi.



Dress appropriately for the weather, wear a vest as my mother would say! The neck and shoulder area should be covered with a scarf on cool breezy days, even if the sun is shining. Adjust your sleep pattern as the days start to get shorter, we naturally start to need more rest and sleep at this time of year.


Autumn is a naturally reflective time as the energy shifts from the yang energy of summer to the calmer and still yin energy of winter. Therefore taking time to practice self-reflection and letting go of things that are no longer required can nourish the metal element.


For more information on how to stay healthy at this time of year look up your nearest Acupuncturist or Chinese Medicine Practitioner.

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