This is an auspicious time of year - for both our physical and spiritual health. Autumn is ruled by the Metal Element, bringing clarity and inspiration, along with grief and vulnerability. It is both cutting and tender, often manifesting in emotional turmoil or decreased immunity. The Metal Element relates to the Lung and Large Intestine organs, making these areas particularly susceptible to ailments this time of year (think of that pesky cough that just won't quit, or chronic digestive symptoms).
Let's dive in to understand a bit more about the Metal Element as it relates to our health, finishing with one of my favorite Metal Element Recipes: Roasted Pears with Honey.
Nature As Teacher
We needn't look any further than the world around us to understand our internal physiology - this is the foundation of Chinese Medicine. Purging is a natural act during the transition from summer to winter as we witness the trees willingly dispel their leaves in preparation for new life in the spring. This process happens without will or decision, but as part of natures law. The same holds true for us - in order to grow and evolve, we must let go of what no longer serves.
The lung-energy within Metal helps us to discern precisely what in our lives is no longer serving us (both conscious and unconscious). It is the mediator of purity in the body, and when we can tune-in, it will naturally relinquish that which we no longer need to hold onto - that which won't benefit our growth in the spring. The actual letting-go happens via the energy of the colon. By keeping the lung and large intestine organs healthy, we align the Metal Element within our physiology and will not only enjoy good health this season but increased access to our purpose.
A few ways to support the health of the lungs and large intestine:
- Deep Breathing
- Optimal Hydration
- Warm, cooked foods
- Essential Minerals like Magnesium, Zinc and Selenium
- Digestive Support: Probiotics, Fiber and Bone Broth (or Collagen)
- Diffuse Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Looking ahead - winter is ruled by the Water Element, and we can start seeing the importance of balancing water within our body already in Autumn. Because the lungs and large intestine require proper moisture to function, these organs can be more susceptible to excessive dryness or dampness this time of year.
Dryness can present itself in various ways, most obviously as lung dryness manifesting as asthma, persistent dry cough, frequent colds or allergies. But the lung energy also rules the skin, which can lead to dry rashes, eczema, or imbalance with sweating. The large intestine can also be affected, through constipation, intestinal fissures or other bowel disease. Likewise, an abundance of water can do equal damage to these tender organs, such as chronic cough with phlegm, nausea or chronic diarrhea. Balance is key.
Maintaining moisture balance is easy to do through foods and herbs, and one of my favorite recipes below this post does just that. When frequent colds ensue or there's a cough in my house that just won't let up, this is my go-to food remedy as it both nourishes healthy tissue while draining excessive fluid - offering perfect balance for water via the metal organs.
There is more to the Metal Element than simply purification and letting go, it is also a time to literally inhale inspiration in service of our true self. Because Metal energy peaks in the fall, we have a unique opportunity to access this momentum, infusing us with the sense that we can accomplish anything. Metal is precise, pure, and valuable - interweaving our connection to the divine and giving us access to our self-discipline and self-worth.
It is an ideal time of year to find what connects you to that endless source of inspiration and universal knowledge - be it through meditation, prayer, communing with nature, or other introspective activity. By strengthening our connection to the divine (or, Spirit, soul, intuition), we unlock access to our purpose and cultivate health in our bodies. This will help illuminate the pure from the impure in our lives, making that which inspires us visible.
Letting go, taking in the pure, connecting with our purpose and universal truth - these are not easy activities. Rather, they often come along with a great deal of resistance and discomfort - a lot of big emotions can come up during Metal Season or overwhelming physical symptoms. Be tender with yourself and carve time for solitude so the these energies can move through the body. The ride may be bumpy - whether the experience is manifesting as chronic bronchitis or emotional turmoil. But, this is the beautiful (and most difficult) gift that Metal has to teach us - there is beauty in the breakdown if we can let it unfold, surrendering to nature's law and trust that it's in service with our highest good.
Metal Tonic: Roasted Pears with Honey
- 2-4 Firm Pears
- 2-4 Tbsp Honey (high quality)
- 2-4 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 1/2-1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2tsp Ground Ginger (or freshly grated)
- 1/4cup Raisins (optional)
- 1/4cup Walnuts or Pecans, chopped (optional)
Chop the pears into halves, quarters or large chunks (however you like 'em!), and lay them in one layer on a baking sheet or ceramic pan. You can choose to peel the pears, but I usually leave mine on for extra nutrition and fiber (especially if they are organic). Mix the remaining ingredients together to form a thick paste and apply evenly over the pears. Add or subtract items as you see fit, and depending on the volume and size of the pears used you may need to increase the paste quantity (you want each bite of pear to have a little of the honey-coconut glaze).
Bake at 350 until cooked through and tender, about 20-40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Use in cases of dryness (dry cough, or cough with minimal phlegm, and/or constipation with difficulty moving bowels). Great treat for adults and children (over age 1) alike.
Chinese Medicine Recipe Breakdown
- Pears are naturally moistening to both the lung and large intestine organs, offering soothing relief to irritated membranes (especially when cooked)
- Honey soothes the respiratory pathways, is warm in nature, nourishes yin and moistens dryness (such as a dry cough or constipation)
- Cinnamon and Ginger both nourish the Earth Element, which is the "mother element" that nurtures Metal, they dry dampness and resolve phlegm