13 Mar Autumn Detox Guide
How Traditional Chinese Medicine can help you to work with the energies of elimination during Autumn to maximise your health.
Why Autumn is the best time for a detox
Autumn is the season for eliminating waste in all of its forms. If you look at nature during this time all of the used debris of Summer returns to the earth and is recycled into nutrition for the next growth cycle in Spring. During Autumn the same process naturally occurs in our bodies. At this time of year our job is to help the body to perform this task of discarding waste and toxicity so that our organs can function at their best.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine Autumn is governed by the metal element that rules the lungs and large intestines – the primary organs of elimination. These organs work in tandem and are also associated with grief and our capacity to ‘let go’ at any level. A thorough Autumn detox includes a clarifying diet, purgation therapies to clear the large intestine and draw toxins from the organs, breathing exercises to deeply cleanse the lungs, and therapies that purge grief from the bodymind. An Autumn detox should also include therapies that support your body and mind to perform the task of elimination easily, such as herbs and foods that tonify, strengthen and balance the lungs and large intestines and acupuncture to increase energy flow and communication between these symbiotic organs.
Finally, Autumn is a time to take stock of our overall wellbeing and prune away the ‘stuff’ in our lives that is no longer beneficial. No Autumn detox would be complete without a healthy decluttering of home, negative relationships, sabotaging habits and poor lifestyle choices.
Autumn Skin Detox
Time to get the body scrubs and loofers out! If this is not a regular practice for you, it should be. Skin is our largest organ and it takes a beating from the sun, environmental pollutants (including wifi), synthetic fibres, moisturisers, makeup, repellants, perfumes and so on. During Autumn our skin is naturally dryer as our circulation and unctuousness retreats inward to build digestion and concentrate on deep tissue nourishment. Autumn is a time to favour light oil or clay detox scrubs and exfoliants with warming, mildly pungent herbs and spices such as cinnamon, ginger, radish, mints, rosemary and almond oil. Avoid salt based scrubs as these can be too drying during Autumn.
Autumn Detox Diet
Avoid dairy rich, processed or fatty foods that increase congestion and favour white foods and pungent flavours in foods and herbs such as: onion, radish, mustard greens, daikon radish, scallions (white part), almonds, white meat, white rice, white beans, white mushrooms, gingko nut, white mustard seed, angelica root tangerine peel.
Dark Moon Alchemy Yin, Chi and Jing tonics are ideal to support your body and mind through this season.
Massage & Acupuncture to Support Elimination
Regular remedial and deep tissue massage helps to move stagnant energy, blood and lymph and manually drain toxins from deep within organs and tissues. Symptoms of toxicity include muscle and joint stiffness, heaviness, allergies and inflammation. Improving the flow of vital fluids throughout the body and stimulating biofeedback during massage are two ways that massage facilitates the elimination of waste to improve health and reduce toxicity.
Acupuncture works in a similar way to stimulate cellular connectivity, communication and the movement of energy (qi, prana) and body fluids throughout the body. This, in turn, reduces stagnation of blood, increases vitality, tonifies and strengthens organs and increases nutrient supply and metabolism throughout the body.
Emotional Detox – Dealing with Grief & Letting Go
Traditional Chinese Medicine has long understood the relationship between our organs and our emotions. Grief is associated with the lungs and our capacity to ‘let go’ with the large intestine. As these two organs work together, you can see that our ability to release grief can be improved by supporting these organs for function optimally. The inability to let go of grief and the state of depression is often associated with low lung/large intestine energy (chi, qi, life force). In Chinese Medicine herbal tonics and acupuncture that help to strengthen, tonify and build the lung and large intestine qi also help us to cope better with the inevitable life experiences that cause grief. According to Chinese medicine singing also helps to discharge this emotion, while laughter actually is seen to control it. Perhaps this is why most traditional cultures sing at funerals!
Breathing Exercises for Autumn
Yogic pranayama (e.g. kapalabhati and belly breathing), qi gong, tai chi and other therapies that coordinate the flow of breath with body movements and promote conscious diaphragmatic breathing are highly beneficial at any time of year, but particularly to facilitate the elimination of respiratory byproducts and stagnant emotions.
Declutter your home in Autumn
How much stuff do you really need and how much of your existing stuff do you actually use or even see? Autumn is the time to dive deep into those cupboards and cranny’s in the home and cast out everything that you don’t need. Look for items that you forgot you had, are unlikely to ever fit again, are useful but that you will never get around to using and hand them over for someone else! Take time to enjoy the lightness of being that comes from clearing out clutter and returning the energy flow to your home. Finish smudging your space to shift stagnant energy (white sage and sustainably sourced palo santo are good). Finally, have a look at your household cleaners. What sort of toxins are you cleaning your home with? How about some of nature’s cleaners instead such as Australia’s potent antimicrobials like lemon myrtle, tea tree and eucalyptus.
Autumn Lifestyle Detox
During Autumn we are literally preparing the ground for new growth and autumn is that mucky stage of carrying out the heavy pruning and preparing the soil before we sew our new seeds. This said, what are you trying to cultivate and what or who needs to change to help you to realise that goal? Are there any stored emotions and unspoken words that are holding back? Are there any toxic elements in your life that weigh you down? Are you ready to do the necessary pruning or to at least work to transform any negative dynamics in your life so that they can transform? Journalling, regression therapy, cathartic therapy, counselling, life-coaching, even aerobic exercise are ways to begin to transform these dynamics so that they support growth and wellbeing.