A RESOLUTION Designating October 24, 2014, as “Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Day” in Pennsylvania to honor the more than 700 licensed acupuncturists in this Commonwealth.
In order to honor the day, here is an article about the Five Elements and specifically the metal element which corresponds to this time of year.
FIVE ELEMENTS – METAL
In Chinese Medicine, there are five elements predominating at specific times during the year. These five elements are Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal. According to the Chinese, there are five seasons, not four – winter, spring, summer, late summer and fall. Each season is then associated with one of the five elements – the Water element is associated with winter, wood – spring, fire – summer, earth – late summer (harvest), and metal – fall. Each element also has organ systems coupled with it, as well as a color, odor, sound, emotion and flavor.
October is the time when we are transitioning from the earth element and late summer into the metal element and fall or autumn. The organs associated with the metal element are lung and large intestine, the color is white, odor is rotten, sound is weeping, emotion is grief, and the flavor is pungent. When an element is out of balance, you or loved ones may notice one or more of these characteristics. You may find that your voice has a little weeping waver to it or that you are feeling very sad while craving foods that have a pungent flavor or you only want to be surrounded by things that are white. The balance of the organs associated with the elements may also be out of balance during their particular season. In the fall, for example, you may find that you develop a chronic cough that lasts until the cold weather of winter sets in, or that your digestion feels off with either frequent or infrequent bowel movements or a lot of gas.
There are several ways to maintain or restore balance in the elements – acupuncture, which uses needles, heat, cupping, moxabustion or electrical stimulation, Chinese medicine, which uses herbs in pill, tincture, or tea form, or lastly, by including specific foods in your diet that support the element and its related organs. Since the season of fall is just beginning, now is the perfect time to work on improving the energy in the organs associated with the Metal element, which are the lung and the large intestine.
In Chinese medicine, they believe that the five elements work together in the body to maintain health and keep the body functioning properly. When any one of the elements is out of balance, all of the other elements are affected in some way. By placing needles along the meridians, acupuncture helps to move energy, either giving energy or taking it away from a certain organ system, in order to restore the balance of the body. For example, if the lung is out of balance in the fall and a person is experiencing allergies, asthma or a cough, an acupuncturist would place needles along the channels to help alleviate the symptoms and bring balance back to the lungs. Herbs can work in a similar fashion and are often selected according to the organ system that they affect. So again, for allergies, herbs would be selected that not only help to support the normal functioning of the lung, but restore balance in the metal element.
Sometimes, acupuncture and Chinese medicine are not appropriate for some people, and so the balance in the elements can be changed through the foods that one eats. According to the five element theory, each element has a particular flavor that is associated with it, and therefore, has specific foods that can stimulate its functioning. The metal element is affected by foods that are pungent. These foods are generally warming (yang) and encourage energy to expand and move outward. Most people may not easily associate foods with the pungent flavor, but some of these foods include green onion, chive, clove, parsley and coriander. Each of the food groups also have foods specific to each element. The chart below gives examples for each of the elements. Notice the foods in red, which are specifically associated with the metal element. (Sorry, the chart below did not copy correctly. Lised above the last column should be…) Wood (Sour)
||Oats Wheat Rye
||Aduki Black Kidney Pinto
||Green Lentil Mung Lima
||Pine Nut Pumpkin
||Black Sesame Walnut
||Beet Dandelion Root Okra Red Bell Pepper Scallion Tomato
||Cabbage Carrot Parsnip Rutabaga Spinach Squash
||Asparagus Broccoli Celery Cucumber Mustard Green Onion Radish
||Kale Mushrooms Seaweeds Water chestnut
||Green Bell Pepper Green Pea Lettuce String Bean Zucchini
||Fig Orange Papaya Pineapple Strawberry
||Apricot Banana Pear
||Mulberry Pomegranate Raspberry Watermelon
||Avocado Grape Lemon Lime
Including these foods in your diet, especially during the fall months will help to keep the metal element functioning well. However, you may also use these foods when the metal element is already out of balance and there are symptoms that you would like to alleviate. For example, pears can help to calm a persistent cough, while rice is especially good when your bowels are not feeling quite right or you have diarrhea. Each of these foods acts differently on the lung and large intestine. For more information on what each specific food does, you can contact me through email and I will gladly share this with you. Below, you will find several recipes using some of the foods to support your health through the fall season. Eat Well! Live Well – Naturally!
Navy Bean and Butternut Squash Soup
1 pound dried navy beans
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups water
2 to 2-1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (about 5 cups)
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Sort beans and rinse with cold water. Place beans in a large saucepan or Dutch oven; add water to cover by 2 in. Bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 2 hours. Drain and discard liquid; return beans to pan. Add the broth, water, squash, onion, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 hours or until beans are tender.
Mash the soup mixture, leaving some chunks if desired.
Yield: 12-14 servings (about 3 quarts).
For more recipes: Click here