Traditional Chinese Medicine dates back thousands of years and has helped people all over the world remain and regain health and well-being. Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, most likely predates written history. But the first writings of this medical system appear in China during the Shang Dynasty in 1766 B.C. The theory behind TCM however, is not just Chinese in origin and is heavily rooted in traditional Eastern philosophy. The concept of the five elements that are now used in TCM probably began with the ancient Chinese calendar where five types of energies were assigned to different days, months and years. These five elements were associated with the solstices and equinoxes in an effort to help farmers plan ahead. The five elements are wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
Metal is the element associated with the season of fall. The metal element is thought to be about connection and purity. During the autumn months, things are winding down and life is preparing for hibernation. Autumn is the time of year when we tend to let go of the things that no longer serve us. Just as the leaves fall from the trees in the autumn months, so too should we let go of the things, physical or mental, that bog us down. Fall is a good time to detox the body or clean out the closets of unwanted items.
Each element in TCM is also closely affiliated with two organs and their energetic meridians. Metal is the element of the lungs and the large intestine. The large intestine functions to “let go” of toxins and waste products our bodies no longer need to function. The lungs enable us to take in the crisp pure air of the autumn months, which helps to nourish and enrich our blood. The lungs and the large intestine work as a team to keep the body healthy. One gets rid of waste, while the other brings in nourishment.
When the metal element is out of balance, we may experience allergies, asthma, wheezing, colds, coughing, grief, sadness, skin rashes, eczema, diarrhea or constipation. All of these can be due to either excesses or deficiencies within the lung and large intestine meridians. One way to counter a breakdown in the system is by eating foods color specific to the two energetic meridians. Things like onions, turnips, cauliflower, egg whites, apples, potatoes and pears are all good examples of white foods that can help boost or tonify the energy of the lung and large intestine meridians.
Deep breathing is also something that can be done daily to help keep the metal element balanced. This practice can help strengthen the lungs and boost immunity in the body. Deep breathing can be somewhat meditative, which can help calm the mind too. When practicing deep breathing, the focus should be on the abdomen. The abdomen should expand when inhaling and it should deflate when exhaling. This is somewhat opposite of what most people do when they breathe. But when watching an infant breathe, it is easy to see this pattern. Deep breathing can be done almost anywhere and it can help tremendously when there is added stress.
Lastly, consider getting acupuncture to balance out the metal element. Acupuncture has been shown to be effective at treating many lung and large intestinal issues. Acupuncture works with the body to balance energy, remove blockages and get things flowing properly throughout the whole system. A few treatments can bring relief from a lifetime of discomfort.