Autumn can be quite the mixed bag for most of us. For me, Autumn always has such a rich and deep feeling to it. I could never really put my finger on exactly why. When I studied Traditional Tibetan Medicine we learned that during the Fall our body is going through the same changes as the environment around us. Autumn is the harvest season. Everything is ripe and ready to pick. It is a time to experience the fruits of the year. Everything is more potent.
When it comes to fall health tips, Traditional Tibetan Medicine has a surprising, yet practical perspective to offer on this. Over the Summer the body was exposed to a lot of heat. Just like fruits ripening under the sun, this heat ripens in our body just in time for fall harvest…except this kind of fruit isn’t so tasty. It can lead to several unwanted health conditions. Anything aggravating such as dry air, sun exposure, alcohol as well as spicy and oily foods can easily cause this accumulated heat to arise.
How does heat relate to our body? According to Traditional Tibetan Medicine our body, food, environment and entire universe are composed of five elements: earth, water, fire, wind and space. Every part of our body has differing levels of these five elements and they are each responsible for specific physiological functions. The fire element gives rise to everything connected with heat.
The function of the fire element, tripa in Tibetan, is connected with:
- small intestines
- gall bladder
What are some signs of imbalances of the fire element?
- sharp headaches/migraines
- diarrhea with sharp pain and yellow color
- dry, croup cough/bronchitis
- liver and gall bladder problems such as jaundice
- internal and external ulcers
- internal and external inflammation
- itchy skin
- infections and fevers
Although many of these signs have been attributed to the coming of the cold season in Autumn, the over 4,000 years of observation that Traditional Tibetan Medicine has accumulated and maintained suggests the opposite, it’s the accumulated heat in our body.
Here’s some fall health tips for detoxifying the inflammation accumulated over the summer:
1. Avoid hot, sour, salty and oily foods.
A big one here is alcohol. If you were planning to take that break from alcohol “one of these days,” this is the time. Chili peppers, peanuts, sour fruit, and meat cooked over a flame are also best to cut back on. And now you also have a great excuse to cut out the french fries.
2. Eat sweet, bitter and astringent foods
Bitter is based on the water and wind elements which are cool by nature. This is the time of the year to go nuts eating bitter veggies. Arugula is one of my all time favorites. Endive is another excellent option. Traditionally it’s also the best time of the year to break out the rock sugar and give it a lick.
3. Detox the digestive track with a 1-7 day rice soup cleanse
This is the time of the year that Tibetan and Ayurvedic doctors would traditionally supervise purgation therapy. While some gung-ho detoxers might be up for the challenge, I’ll let you in on a secret. While the purgatives release the toxins, it’s the post-purgation diet of rice soup and boiled hot water that are considered the real medicine that clean the toxins away. Boil up some rice soup without any salt and eat only that for a couple days. I feel like a million bucks after this simple, yet surprisingly effective detox. Rice is smooth and cooling so cleans away all of the inflammatory toxins while soothing the digestive tracts lining.
4. Detox the liver with Saffron tea for 1-3 weeks
Boil water, pour it over 5 stands of saffron, let cool and drink at noon time (the time of fire!). Saffron is considered the most powerful herb for healing the liver and blood while gently removing heat from the body.
5. Wear sandalwood and flower essences
The scent of these beautiful nectars are known to reduce the effect of the fire element, open the senses and increase energy. There’s nothing better than healthy and attractive pleasantry. Guys, stick with the sandalwood. She’ll love it. But make sure to get the eco-friendly, authentic stuff, mostly sourced from Australian producers at this time. Beware of the fake and endangered sandalwood sources out there.
6. Take it easy on the strenuous workouts
Now is a good season to focus on yoga rather than pushing the heat-generating cardio and weight-lifting sessions. Moderate exercise and conditioning is fine, but if you are in the super active crowd, take some time to tone it down a notch in the Autumn. Your lungs and liver will love you for it. Don’t worry, winter is right around the corner and my next tips will have you ready to pump it up double time.