Autumn and the Metal Element in Chinese Medicine

The Metal Element


In Chinese Medicine the character for Metal (Jin) 金 represents something precious deep in the earth. It includes the character for Earth (see below). The Metal character has a sloping roof on top, representing something covered over. You could imagine it as a mine with nuggets of gold buried deep within the earth. Metal can be thought of like minerals in the body. Small but essential. In the body the Metal Element consists of the Lungs and Large Intestine. The Lungs take in air. In Chinese Medicine they take in the Qi from the Heavens. Exercises such as Qigong can help us to breath more deeply. Breathing meditations can be used as a tool to calm the mind. In dynamic meditation breathing can be used to trigger the emotions in order to express them and to get free and more detached from them (Osho, 1989). The Large Intestine lets go of waste material. On a more emotional level it's important to be able to freely accept gifts and compliments. To appreciate beauty in the world. It's also important to let go of things we no longer need. The Dhammapada (sayings of the Buddha) states "For see how the Jasmine flower releases and lets fall its withered flowers." So we must release the parts of us that no longer serve us rather than clinging to them. In Autumnal months the weather starts to get chilly and we would be wise to dress more warmly than the summer months. Summer salads should give way to more nourishing and warming foods such as soups and roasted vegetables. We should choose more astringent as well as heartier flavours and foods (Pitchford, 1993). Sourdough bread, sauerkraut, leaks, aduki beans sour apples and rose hip tea suit this season.



Making space for ourselves

Autumn is the Season of the Metal Element. Trees freely let dead leaves fall to the ground. Similarly we should let go of people and objects that no longer serve us. I have been giving some books to charity. I am culling my Facebook friends list of people I no longer need and ofpeople I have been clinging onto. Now is the time to sever those connections. By clearing away these things we make space for ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally.




Autumn is also a great time to go foraging for nuts and berries. It is vital to avoid damaging wildlife habitats or rare species, so check you are allowed to forage in the area before starting to pick (Countryfile). Hazelnuts, apples, blackberries, hawthorn, blackthorn, rowan, sloe berries, bilberry, sweet chestnut, beach nut, raspberries, wild strawberries, giant puffball, chicken of the woods, rosehips and elderberries can be foraged this time of year. Some of them can be eaten raw. Others can be used to make jams, wines and autumnal treats such as scones and crumbles (the Guardian). Sloe berries can be used to make Sloe Gin. A pair of scissors, a good pocket knife and a reusable shopping bag or other container is all that is needed (


Hicks, Hicks and Mole, 2004, Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture, Churchill Livingstone, London

Osho, 1989, The Everyday Meditator A Practical Guide, Labyrinth Publishing (UK) Ltd, London

Pitchford, 2002, Healing with Whole Foods Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley - accessed 07/09/2018 - accessed 07/09/2018 - accessed 07/09/2018