• Ann Shorthouse

Awesome autumn health tips

The nights are drawing in, the leaves are changing into their most vivid colours, the sun gives everything a warm glow, the snuggly jumpers are coming out... Crunchy walks with friends followed by hot chocolate by the fire are in sight.

This is one of my favourite months of the year. It feels so fresh, cleansing and cosy - feelings which ring true with what Traditional Chinese Medicine (TMC) teaches us...


In TCM, autumn is associated with metal. Metal is linked to the lung and large intestine so it doesn’t surprise me that this time of year I treat many clients with digestive issues such as bloating/constipation (large intestine) or coughs or colds (lungs).

Yin and Yang

Every organ has a yin and yang which means they work together to keep the body in balance. The lungs are responsible for taking in the new, manifested physically as breathing in oxygen we need to think clearly and for our bodies to function optimally. The large intestine, the last stage of the digestion, takes everything the body no longer needs and releases it, letting go of any waste.


Autumn is a time to leave the carefree attitudes of summer behind, gather our things (e.g. wood and brightly coloured foods) and thoughts (taking stock of which thoughts you can or need to let go of), and allow time and space for introspective, reflective energies associated with autumn. Let me explain why this is so important.

Emotions and physical symptoms

In TCM, every organ is associated with an emotion and the emotion of the lungs is sadness and grief. Many clients already seem to be aware that autumn is a time where these emotions are amplified. And more often than not, when I find a client’s lungs are out of balance, we end up chatting about grief or rather difficulty coping with loss or change both of which have often lead the client to feelings of sadness. Physically, the body may be expressing this through depression, pneumonia, asthma, coughs or colds etc. Balancing the lungs means that you can let go and relax more easily, think and communicate clearer and are more open to new ideas. In terms of the large intestine, often people who have problems like chronic constipation are unable to let go of things and thoughts we may unnecessarily be hanging on to.

So it’s a good time to finish and let go of things and projects that you don’t need and start projects which focus more on the internal, cultivating body and mind.

Here are a three points for you to consider this autumn:

1.) What are the things (from clothes to computer files for example) or people can you let go of or don’t serve you?

2.) Take stock also of your emotions, what are you feeling...? Be bold and brave when it comes to tuning in to what you’re feeling and whatever emotion it is, just allow it to be there without judging it or if you can, put it into writing. (E.g. My mum passed away when I was in my early twenties, emotions connected to her death and memories run high this time of year and so I journal myself through these emotions as well as chatting to close friends and family about how I feel helps me.)

3.) What changes can you make or boundaries can you set in order to feel your best self? Change eating habits/diet, excercise more/differently? (E.g. This time last year I worked out that as much as I like running, it’s not an exercise which suits my system.)

Hopefully you can now understand why I describe autumn as fresh (making space for the new), cleansing (getting rid of the old) and cosy (going ‘inside’ and taking stock). My hope for you is that autumn is all of the above for you. It will be what you make of it.

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