Why are Asthma Bronchial Challenges More Frequent in the Fall & Winter?
by Kristina Shaw, NAET Allergy Acupuncture Specialist
In the Five Element Chinese medicine systems, the autumn months are governed by the lungs and large intestine functions. So if an individual has a constitutional deficiency in the lungs or digestive tract, there can be more acute asthma flare ups or aggravation with allergic asthma, chronic bronchitis or emphysema challenges.
Grief, sadness or melancholy feelings can play into asthma respiratory health challenges, as can constipation and skin problems being more pronounced in the fall. The water element of winter governs the kidneys, adrenals and bladder energetic system & organs.
The primary meridian circulating time for the lungs is from 3 to 5 in the morning, which is when some folks are more vulnerable to coughing spells. If there is sluggishness or weakness in the lung’s life force, it’s more challenging for the lungs to clean its house of lingering mucus. Some people experience dryness in the lungs and have a low grade dry cough that can go on for months. Some naturopathic schools correlate adrenal deficiency with a persistent dry cough that can persist for months.
In Chinese medicine physiology, there’s an intimate relationship between the energetics of the lungs and the kidneys. Western physiology correlates an interdependent relationship between the kidneys and the heart, but has a blind spot to the oxygen carrying life force between the lungs and kidneys. Each inhalation brings the prana life force of the breathe into the bronchials & alveoli of the lungs.
The missing energetic piece in traditional medical thinking is that this oxygenated life force of the lungs sends its prana or chi energy down to the kidneys to get recharged on the inhalation. With each exhale, the kidneys charges the energetic chi of the breath & then sends that recharged energy back to the lungs to be expelled out.
Because of this close interdependency between the lungs & kidneys, if there is a deficiency or excess stress on either of these organ systems, the other is tangibly influenced. The winter season is when bronchial challenges can be at their worst.
In Chinese Medicine physiology, the winter’s cold hibernating months are governed by the kidneys, adrenals & bladder function (known as the Water Element). When strengthening the lungs, the partnership of the lungs and kidneys must be boosted in this dynamic interplay. There are various Chinese & American herbal formulas that fortify the vitality & reliance of these powerful energetic organ systems.
The Taoist that created the Five Element System observed that the fall season followed similar patterns to nature with its harvesting process and dying off of the crops & foliage shedding. So the metal element of the fall characteristically has growth patterns of taking in of what is essential to life and then a letting go of what is not needed in one’s life. This taking in and letting go is reflected on all levels of human existence, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and is played out in the lung and large intestine functions & pathology.
The metal element and its influence on the lungs & large intestine are at its core level about change & transformation. When one is rigid with this process, especially as we get older, there is more stuckness in grief, judgementalness and self worth issues that arise. All of these themes play into the mental or emotional aspects of respiratory health challenges. A seasoned acupuncturist pays attention to all of these relational dynamics when working with each person’s individual respiratory condition.