Metal season: How autumn and dryness affect your body

In traditional Eastern medicine, there are five seasons, which are spring, summer, late summer, autumn, and winter. Each season is governed by one of the Five Elements and accordingly affects the human bodily conditions. In traditional Eastern medicine, there are also five climatic factors that significantly affect the human body. These five climatic factors are the wind, heat, dampness, dryness, and cold, which are a manifestation of each of the Five Elements.

Autumn and dryness are governed by the Metal Element. In this post, I will explain how autumn and dryness affect the human body. Please note that the below content is for informational purposes only and in no way is intended to be a substitute for medical advice.

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Autumn – Season of the Metal Element

Autumn marks the beginning of the Yin phase when nature is oriented toward maturity and repose, instead of growth and development. The Metal Element manifests in autumn.

If the Wood and Fire Elements have a tendency to grow and move upward, the Metal and Water Elements incline toward collecting and ripening. The Metal Element is associated with grief, and that is why many people tend to become melancholic in autumn.

The lungs and the large intestine are the organs of the Metal Element. According to Eastern medicine, excessive and prolonged grief negatively affects the lungs and the large intestine and undermines the Metal Element in the body.

According to traditional Eastern medicine, those who have problems with the lungs or large intestine may need to pay particular attention to their health during this season. Pungent foods correspond to the Metal Element. According to traditional Eastern medicine, the intake of pungent foods, such as hot peppers, chili, garlic, peppermint, and mustard, helps fortify the lungs and large intestine and stimulates the Metal Element in the body.

Dryness – Manifestation of the Metal Element

Dryness is an expression of the Metal Element, which moves inward and has a tendency to shrink. In this regard, the drying and withering process of fruits and vegetables can be seen as a process of contraction and condensation, which is the fundamental nature of the Metal Element.

Think of a dried raisin which used to be a moist fruit. The power of the Metal Element manifests in concentration, condensation, and contraction, as well as in its capacity to get rid of all that are extraneous, which is not very different from a drying process. 

In autumn, the season of the Metal Element, nature directs life energy inward and make preparations for the winter by clearing all that is extraneous, such as insects, flowers, and plants. This is the time for a drying process in nature: leaves become dry and fall off; the soil that has been rendered damp in late summer loses its moisture; and even the volume of water in lakes and rivers is reduced.

Dryness is associated with the Metal Element, and therefore, it is natural that the lungs, organ of the Metal Element, are susceptible to excessive dryness. When dryness invades the lungs, it could provoke frequent coughing, asthma, thick phlegm, or discomfort in the chest. Internal dryness also manifests in the depletion of bodily fluids, causing a dry mouth, a dry nose, a dry throat, dry skin, or dry hair.

The lack of bodily fluids also leads to constipation, scanty urine, or soreness while defecating, according to traditional Eastern medicine. When you are afflicted with severe dryness, you could still feel thirsty even after you consume a lot of water. In traditional Eastern medicine, herbs are often used to treat problems with dryness. To avoid dryness, it is recommended to refrain from consuming caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and spicy foods, for they aggravate the conditions of dryness.    

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