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S.A.D: Is Autumn Getting You Down?

According to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) 5 Element Theory (the basis of acupuncture, acupressure etc) there are 5 major organ systems. Each system has an associated colour, part of the body, emotion, season, pathogen (the state it really hates) etc. Each organ is at its most vulnerable during its corresponding season, meaning that the emotion linked with it becomes more apparent. Autumn is associated with the Lung system, and Lung's emotion is grief. From an acupuncturist's perspective, it's not surprising then that so many people feel a sense of sadness and depression at this time of year. Clients with lung weaknesses are usually the type who suffer quietly with a deeply-felt, hard-to-shake-off, gentle sadness; often they find it hard to let go of old wounds and hurts. Those who suffer unresolved grief also display physical lung symptoms, such as wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and frequent colds. The lungs are said, in TCM terms to ' open into the nose', and runny or blocked noses start to become more common during the Autumn. The clocks have gone back, the days are getting shorter, darker and colder. We tend to go outside less as we exhibit 'hibernation' type responses to the onset of Winter. This in itself can lead to SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is because our pineal gland, which acts as a sort of light meter in the brain, is receiving less light during the shorter days. The pineal produces melatonin, a hormone which regulates our body rhythms, including our sleep pattern.

Melatonin is produced from serotonin, the 'happy' hormone. If the timing of your body's normal circadian rhythms, such as waking and sleeping, is delayed or disturbed in any way (classic examples are shift workers, or jet lag) then depression can occur. The production of melatonin, a sleep-related hormone, increases during the dark, so when days are shorter and darker, melatonin rates increase, prompting us to want to sleep, stay indoors, eat comfort food and hibernate! So how can you help keep your spirits up as the days shorten?

For mild symptoms, spending time out of doors during the day may help. One study found that an hour's walk in Winter sunlight (without sunglasses so that the light may enter the eyes and so stimulate the pineal gland) was as effective as 2.5 hours under bright artificial light - and a lot more beneficial! More severe cases of SAD may benefit from some time under a special light box, designed to help sufferers of Autumn/Winter related 'grief' and sadness. Alternatively, a course of acupuncture may help to balance your Lung and Large Intestine (Lung's 'brother' organ) energy, so helping to lift your mood and relieve any physical symptoms too. Lung's pathogen is dryness (that is, they hate to be dry!). In their natural, healthy state the Lungs and nose are moist, thanks to their mucous membranes. When the Lungs become dry, we develop coughs, colds and wheeziness. To restore the natural moistness of the nose and Lungs, use steam inhalation, or again, book a course of acupuncture to get rid of any lingering cough, cold or chest problems. Let me help you to stay well this season, call 07908 010 005, or email now to book an appointment Jane Xx.

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