Taking Care of Your Lungs + Skin This Fall/Winter

written by Erin Langely, LAC, MSOM, Dipl OM


It’s autumn, and in Chinese Medicine it’s the season to take good care of your lungs.

Given the recent fires in the North Bay, this organ needs extra attention as we head into cold and flu season. 

Autumn is a time of withering, of decelerating momentum and growth. We may experience a natural “come-down” from the buzz of Spring and Summer. This transition can register as melancholy. In Chinese Medicine, the lung is associated with grief. Treating the lung can help process grief and give the lungs the strength they need to do their many jobs.

The lungs have several functions, including filtering clean energy from dirty energy, governing our voice, skin, and body hair, regulating water passages like sweat and urine, and working closely with the heart to circulate the body’s energy. The lungs blur the boundary between us and our environment. The air connects us all. At the same time, the lungs provide a healthy buffer, called wei qi, between us and disease. 

Autumn is not a good time to cleanse or sweat heavily. Purgative treatments further deplete our bodies, which are already winding down toward the stillness and storage of winter. The Chinese classic Neijing states, “Do not disperse your energies, and the lung qi will be clear. This is the way of nourishing life in accordance with the nourishing and constricting qi of the autumnal harvest season. Going against these principles will harm the lung network, eventually causing diarrhea in winter, when things should really be in a state of storage rather than leakage.”

So, taking care of our lungs now will serve us in winter, too!

One way to check the status of your lungs is to examine the tip of your (or your child’s) tongue. If it appears to be pinker than the rest of the tongue body, the lungs may be storing excess heat, which we can address in a session. 

Here are some tips for ways to help promote lung and skin health this time of year:

  • Get Acupuncture! Book your appointment for fall now.
  • Do dry brushing at home to improve circulation, and lymphatic drainage throughout the entire body.
  • Eat radishes, white mushrooms and any white colored foods.
  • Try cupping. Kids also love this form of bodywork - it is a good way to address cough and colds (easily remove the phlegm/mucus). 
  • Schizandra tea or lemon water (sour flavors) work well in autumn because they astringe the energy of the lung to help you retain your vitality throughout fall and winter. 
  • Facial acupuncture works wonders to restore and beautify dry skin.

Wishing you health this season, and see you soon!