Transitioning to Autumn: The Metal Element in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Autumn has officially arrived, with its brilliantly coloured leaves and cool, crisp air, which means it’s time to clear out the excess from the summer!  From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), in late October we move out of the ‘earth’ element of abundance and fragrant smells, and into the ‘metal’ element, which is associated with decreasing, contracting, and sharp mental focus.

We watch nature make this transition with beauty and ease every year. Trees and shrubs gracefully drop their leaves to conserve their energy for the dark and cold time ahead. Summer insects die off gradually; other animals shed their light summer coats in order to make room for thicker, longer, darker winter fur. Everything begins to draw inward…

Letting Go, Moving Forward

This process of letting go can be more challenging for humans, who are less adept at using their ‘metal’ energy. Instead of using sharp ‘metal’ energy to cleanly cut away excess, we get attached, we hang on, and we accumulate… Eventually, this accumulation leads to stagnation and congestion of energy, and creates a host of problems. Whether it is affecting our personal health, our relationships, or the comfort of our living space, accumulation needs to be kept in check so that our energy is not diverted away from what actually sustains us.

The ‘metal’ season is an ideal time of year to consider the different aspects of your life that no longer serve you. Do you need to purge your closet and donate your old clothes? Do you need to address a long-held relationship issue with your friend or partner? What can you do to unburden yourself over the next few months, so that you can move forward with strength, clarity and purpose?

Strengthening your Lungs, Optimizing your Digestion

On a physical level the ‘metal’ element is associated with the lungs, and its paired organ, the large intestine. In TCM, the lungs are responsible for maintaining strong Defensive Qi, which prevents the invasion of pathogenic factors that can cause colds and flu. Its partner, the large intestine, plays an integral role in purging waste, ensuring that your reserves of energy are used efficiently. So, taking our cue from nature’s rhythms, this is the season to fortify your lungs and optimize your digestive system so that you maintain your strength and health over the winter.

Grab hold of your ‘metal’ energy and take action before hibernation mode sets in! Now is the perfect time to connect with a TCM practitioner, who can support you with acupuncture to boost the energy of your lungs and large intestine, recommend herbal formulas that enhance your Defensive energy, digestion and elimination, and provide you with important information about your constitution and the foods that are best for your individual needs.

Be occupied, then, with what you really value, and let the thief take something else”


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