In the traditional Chinese medicine five element theory, autumn is associated with the metal element. On an energetic level, the metal element represents organization, boundary setting, and communication. It is a good time of year to decide what you want to prioritize in your life and what you want to let go of. As the trees shed their leaves to make room for new buds in the springtime, our bodies also go through similar changes. It’s the transitional period into the most yin time of year as we go more inward.

The lungs and the large intestine are the organs associated with the metal element and they assist in the elimination and cleansing of the body. Autumn is the time for nourishing and strengthening these organs on a physical and energetic level to help us let go of that which no longer serves us.

The lungs are called the “tender organ” because they are susceptible to the wind and cold. During the change to cooler temperatures, it’s important to dress properly and wear scarves and sweaters to cover the neck and throat. Fall weather tends to be very dry, and this dryness can damage the lungs. It’s especially important to stay
hydrated throughout autumn to help the lungs stay healthy. Drink hot teas with ginger and honey to keep the throat moistened.

This time of year has an abundance of wholesome fruits and vegetables. Try to incorporate seasonal foods into your diet such as squash, artichokes, arugula, spinach, beets, cabbage, and leeks. Chinese medicine recommends eating lots of soups and stews. Transition away from the cold, raw, crisp foods of summer and begin to eat warm, cooked foods. Switch out cold cereal with hot oatmeal, iced tea with warm tea, and raw salads with oven-roasted root veggies. Add in pungent foods to your cooking that benefits the lungs, such as onions, ginger, garlic, or mustard. If you want something sweet, stew seasonal fruits like apples, pears, figs, and persimmons.

Ginger Poached Pears

1 cup sweet dessert wine

One 1″ piece fresh ginger

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 cup of maple syrup or honey

4-6 ripe pears, peeled

1/3 cup slivered almonds

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup raisins


In a saute pan over medium heat, add 2 cups water, dessert wine, fresh ginger, cinnamon stick, maple
syrup, or honey. Bring to a simmer and stir to combine.

Add the pears, turning occasionally to cook evenly. Allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the pears are tender through. Then remove the pears to a serving plate. Continue to cook the liquid for another 15 minutes, or until it has thickened to a sauce-like consistency and reduced to half. Top the pears with the sweet poaching sauce and,
if you’d like, top with nuts and raisins.

Natasha Kubis is a licensed acupuncturist and certified yoga teacher.
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