Dietary therapy is an important part of Chinese medicine. By observing the effect that different foods had on the body, the ancient Chinese classified them into categories by flavor, their ability to heat and cool the body, and their moistening or drying effects. Knowledge of the effects of different foods can be used to keep your body in balance as the seasons change.

Autumn Energy

Autumn is a time of transition when the Yang energy of summer gives way to the Yin energy of winter. During the autumn, the days are shorter, the air is cooler, and birds begin to migrate south. The leaves fall from the trees and we say goodbye to the long, beautiful days of summer.

The element of autumn is metal. The organs associated with metal are the lungs and large intestine. Together, the lungs and large intestine control many of the pathways for elimination, including exhalation, sweating, and the expulsion of food waste. Autumn is a time of letting go, physically and spiritually. It is the perfect time to clean out any clutter lying around your house. In the autumn, don’t be afraid to take a long look at your life. See if there is any emotional baggage (resentment, jealousy or prejudice) that you can let go of.

Dryness is common in the autumn. When there is too much dryness in the body, we experience dry skin, nosebleeds, chapped lips, and cough. At this time of year, drinking fluids is not enough. You need to moisten the body from the inside.

Eating for the Autumn

Eat Less: Foods that produce phlegm like citrus, wheat, and refined sugars. Eat less salad and more soup.

Eat More: Moistening foods like pears, sesame, squash, apples, and honey.

Autumn Pear Soup

• 3-4 pieces of white wood ear fungus 银耳 (available online or at any Chinese grocery)
• 2-3 Chinese pears
• Rock sugar or honey
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1. Soak the white wood ear ½ hour
2. Skin and core the pear and cut into pieces
3. Boil 6 cups of water
4. Add the pear
5. Rinse and add the snow fungus
6. Simmer 1 hour
7. Season with rock sugar or honey to taste
8. Serve warm

Some people prefer to discard the pears after cooking. For a variation try adding lotus seeds or goji berries.