1. This is Harvest Time, and the foundation and fortification of our foods and diet are an important focus now. There are a great many available foods — apples and walnuts, sunflower seeds, zucchini and other squash, cabbages, peppers and tomatoes, plus many grains and beans. Learn some new recipes and enjoy good foods. Most of us need more protein and heat generating foods in the colder months, even the energizing spicy peppers such as cayenne and chilies. This will keep our blood and energy moving.
2. Exercise activity is crucial now as in any season. As the weather cools, stretching is even more important. It is good to have indoor exercise options. Yoga and other flexibility-enhancing movements are helpful at keeping us youthful. Remember, we feel as young as our spine is flexible. Our weight work and aerobic activities are crucial to staying fit, toned, and strong to support our immune function and circulation. A vital body rarely gets sick.
3. Nutritional supplements are often useful this time of year. Many of my patients add some nutrients that support immune function so as not to pick up whatever is going around. Taking some Echinacea now is helpful as is the Chinese herb, Astragalus. Maintaining daily Vitamins C and E along with Selenium and Zinc is also immune protective and clears our body of certain toxins. Roots are helpful for toning our body at this time. Ginseng is quite good for building strength and endurance. Burdock root is good for the skin. See the Autumn section of Staying Healthy with the Seasons for further information.
4. Detoxification is the word for early Autumn. I often lead a 3-week Detox group in September, but not this year, so we are all on our own to clean up our lives and habits. Doing an effective Detox Diet or avoiding sugar, wheat and dairy for a couple weeks (as I discuss in The False Fat Diet) is often quite revealing and helps us to feel better – lighter and more youthful with greater energy. Since it is getting cooler, we will need to exercise and sauna or steam as a means to sweat to clear toxins. Regular sweating is important to health and longevity.
5. Prepare for the cold season. Gather your fuel and food, breathe, and exercise, as you should. In Chinese medicine, the fall season focuses on the lungs and large intestine. Overdoing it can lead to congestion and toxicity, as well as constipation and the clogging of the nose and sinuses. This can lead to upper respiratory infections as the germs grow in the mucus and then inflame the membranes. Try a facial steam and breathe in the herbal mist (you can use mints, rosemary, chamomile, lemon verbena, and other herbs) to help clear the sinuses. Staying clean and clear this season along with a healthy immune system will help keep you well.
6. If you get a cold or the flu, it is best to take action immediately. I start with hourly vitamin C of about 1000 mg, increased doses of vitamin A (not beta-carotene) 25,000-30,000 IUs 3 times daily for just 3-4 days and then lower that dosage to 10-20,000 IUs twice daily for about a week (then take a break since vitamin A can be toxic if taken too long). I also use fresh garlic taking several cloves at a time dipped in honey and chewing them; I may repeat this several times the first day. That is a spicy and aromatic natural antibiotic and immune defender; as an alternative you can use the odorless garlic caps, several 3 times daily if you do not want to smell, but this is not quite as effective. You can press several cloves of garlic into your bowl of soup before you eat, instead of eating the garlic straight. Echinacea and goldenseal alcohol extract can also be used to support immunity and cleanse the membranes. Some help may be achieved with olive leaf extract as a mild anti-viral herb. Of course, drink lots of water, herbal teas, and hot soup as the weather cools.
7. On an inner level open up to the Harvest of your year and be willing to work hard and discipline yourself as you head into a new season. If you are a student (we are all students of life), get back to your studies. Yes, it is time to shift from the playful and relaxed days of Summer. Food is so plentiful in the gardens. Nature is so giving, and it helps to be receptive to her and what the Earth has to offer. What do we have to give to life for all the energy, love, and beauty I hope we all receive?
8. Relationships are important to all of us. This is a good time to deepen and clarify our love and family connections. This helps us discover more about our own needs and those of others close to us, as well as learn to listen to them (both the needs and the people). Also, learn to be alone and listen to your inner guidance and truth. Some folks focus relationships on their computers and TV’s, cars or other electronics. Can you still your mind chatter, and let your body breathe deeply to your soul? Give it a try and your spirit will be calmed and can also fly free of the burdens of time.
9. Open to the Creative Spirit. We can receive new ideas and actions necessary to fulfill our purpose and move us forward in our life. This can help to improve motivation with new energy and excitement for life. This could be writing about past experiences or our future goals, working on a book or personal story, reading a self-help book and applying it to improve our life, or taking up a new exercise. In other words, start a program now that you can develop and work on in the colder, darker months.
10. Take a rest now because the demanding holiday season is just around the corner. Do not burn your batteries out before November. Kindle your inner flame and firepower, which will protect you from the invasion of harsh climates and germs. The Winter blues come partly from a loss of this fire energy. Shifting and balancing with the Seasons is vital to Staying Healthy.