Eat to Boost Your Lungs In Autumn

Mar 28, 2019

The Energetics of Autumn

Based on information found in ‘Food For the Seasons,’ Professor Lun Wong & Kath Knapsey

Autumn is the season of Harvest and connects to the organ systems of the Lungs and Large Intestine.  It’s a time when we’re internally we’re called to gather energy for the colder months ahead, likenned to the natural flow of drawing and descending of the air into our beings. It’s a time when we clear the external heat in us remaining from Summer, preparing to warm ourselves more deeply and internally for Winter.

As the leaves dry around us, so do we as the wind picks up! The lungs hydrate our skin and that’s why may feel the effects in our skin and the partner organ system of our intestines… however it does serve to clear any remaining Summer heat from our systems.   When our defense ( immune system) is weak, wind can drive pathogens into our bodies. It’s important to protect our neck to prevent this. Our stomach and intestines can also be more exhausted at this time of year, so Gastro issues can be more common.

Moisten Dryness with the right foods

Generally herbs and foods with a pungent flavour support the lungs at any time of year. Note: they are great for clearing wind from the body but the more warming spices shouldn’t be overdone as some are too heating during Autumn/ yin time.

Pungent foods include:

garlic, chillies, onions, ginger, horseradish, tumeric, thyme, oregano, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, nutmeg, fennel, dill, chives, caraway seeds, bay leaves, capers, leek, cabbage, wheatgerm, turnip, cumquats

Dryness may show up as dry lips, skin, scalp, itchiness, wrinkles, throat, cough or constipation.

General foods to moisten up:

  • tofu, tempeh, soy milk, spinach, barley, peas, apples, millet, seaweed, milk small amounts, eggs, mushrooms, almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds , loquat crab, or pork

For a persistent dry cough:

If it’s longstanding, persistent, weak, with a slightly sore throat, with night sweats thirst or symptoms that get worse at night, moisten the lung yin:

  • pears with apple sauce, pine nuts, tangerines, clams, chicken broth, yams or eggs, honey in a little water (if no phlegm)

Dry constipation:

  • apples, banana, cheese, honey, peaches,peanut oil, pine nuts, sesame oil or walnuts, a little warm milk (if no phlegm is present)

Heat and Phlegm in the lungs.

If summer heat remains in the body, combined with the wind of early Autumn, the result can be Phlegm heat in the lungs. The symptoms may include: Fevers and chills, red tongue with a yellow coat, shortness of breath, sore throat, yellow nasal phelgm and a dry cough. To help shift this, you’ll need to clear the heat and the mucus.

  • cooked apples & pears, peaches, persimmons, citrus fruits, seaweed, mushrooms, daikon radishes, watercress, carrots, pumpkin, cabbage, bok choy, chard, cauliflower and papaya
  • Pungent flavours can be added to help clear the lungs, if heat is present, avoid warming foods like beef, lamb, chicken, cinnamon, ginger, fennel, coffee

Deficient Lung Yin and Blood

When you’ve endured long term infection, the lung and kidney yin ( moistening aspect) runs down. This can result in dry coughs, little phlegm, occasional fever, greater thirst, a red tongue and cheeks, heat and sweats at night with hot palms and feet. The focus in on building the yin up through steaming or boiling foods.

  • Oranges, pears, peaches, watermelon, green beans, figs
  • Soy products, dairy products, eggs, seaweed, oysters, clams, pork
  • Root veggies in the colder stretch such as pumpkin, parsnip, potato, beetroot

Weak Immunity and Lung Qi

When the lung energy is exhausted, it’s hard to draw in enough air, circulate it to oxygenate and massage the bowel through the diaphragm resulting in constipation.

Boost your lung if you don’t have a cold or flu with Leek soup or an onion broth made out of white onions and little sea salt or unrefined brown sugar to taste.


Traditional Spring Onion Cold Cure

For Day 1 of a cold

  • 3 spring onions, white parts only, coarsely chopped
  • 2 slices of ginger, 20 cent pieces
  • 2 sprigs of mint


Combine the onions, crush the ginger and 2 cups of boiling water. Bring to boil and simmer for uncovered till liquid content halves. Add mint, re-boil briefly and drink as soon as it’s cool enough to. Hop into bed, cover up and sweat it out. Ensure that you clear wet bedding and clothing..follow with plenty of R & R!

Enjoy feeling vibrant and resilient in Autumn!

Autumn Congee

inspired by a recipe found on

Serves 2-4

Part 1
1 part (1 cup) congee:
part buckwheat: neutral, sweet, descend qi, strengthen ST, lowers blood pressure
part quinoa: warm, sweet, strengthen SP, warms yang
part short cut oats: warm, sweet, strengthen SP/ST, harmonize qi
8 parts (cups) water (optional bone broth for more jing and blood tonification)

Autumn Season Mix

GoJi Berries: sweet, sour, warm, strengthen LU/KD, nourish blood/yin, stops cough
Dried Blueberries: sour, sweet, warm, tonify KD, nourish blood, astringe qi
Walnuts: sl warm, sweet, tonify KD, astringe lung, lubricate intestines, descend rebellious qi
Brown Sugar: warm, sweet, lubricates: strengthens digestion, benefit Lungs, stops cough

Part 1 Instructions:

  • Cook congee grains and water on stove until boil, then reduces flame and simmer for 2-4 hours. Optionally can cook overnight in a crock pot.
  • Stir occasionally
  • When finished ensure the congee is to your desired consistency. The more digestive difficulty, the more watery the congee should be to ease burden of digestion.

Part 2 instructions

  • Next add either the Winter Mix or the Autumn Season Mix for the following befits:

Autumn Season Congee Benefits:

Add these ingredients just before serving  to moisten and protect the Lungs. The congee is overall neutral and slightly warming to help the body retain its warmth in this mildly cooler season. Goji berry, brown sugar, and walnuts lubricate Lungs, while blueberries, gou ji, and walnuts also fortify the Kidneys, which can strengthen Lung function. Also walnuts descend rebellious qi such as coughing and blueberries help astringe qi and keep in fluids possibly lost with the drying climate of autumn.

Helpful Herbs, Spices and home remedies:

  • Avoid cold drinks, raw or cold foods.
  • Garlic has a direct affinity with the lungs. Rub your feet with a clove of garlic, in 15 mins your breath will smell of garlic and it helps drain mucus from the body.
  • Ginger is used for any condition where the body is not coping effectively with balancing its moisture levels and can also dry up excess mucus.
  • ‘Yogi tea’, which contains cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and black pepper, great if you’re coming down with a cold.
  • Basil and peppermint enhance lung function.
  • Cinnamon induces perspiration, as does coriander, fresh ginger, rosemary and marjoram.
  • To remedy a sore throat, tonsillitis or dog bite… apply the juice of a peeled potato and apply as a poultice.
  • Honey ( raw or manuka best) in warm water before bed can moisten a dry throat and cough.
  • If you have weak immunity, reduce your salt intake as it is very energetically down drawing which can exhaust your upward defensive energy ( wei qi).
  • vigorous exercise and sweating can help clear and release liver anger.
  • Leek congee can assist with diarrhea
  • Pine nut congee can assist constipation

Eat well in autumn to ensure great respiratory & intestinal  wellness!

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