Five Phase Theory: Into the Metal Phase

In a previous blog named Five Phase Theory: Into the Fire Phase, I wrote about a foundational theory in Chinese Medicine that aligns the physical and emotional experience with our ever changing natural environment. Five Phase Theory enables us to live in harmony with nature while offering strategies to anticipate and prepare for any imbalances that may occur within us. As we move through the seasonal transition between summer and fall, we’ll experience a waning Fire Phase as it begins its descent into the Metal Phase.  The Metal Phase is associated with the lungs and large intestine, and autumn; it is a dry time of year that tends to exacerbate any and all dryness related conditions. This is the time of year where we experience a rise in sinus problems, cough, asthma, dry skin, constipation, and even feelings of sadness or depression.

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Photo source: HOPPER ACU.

Seasonally, Autumn is associated with the time of year where nature begins to decline and return to earth as plants wither and leaves turn colors and die.  Metal is characterized by a descending and contracting quality that often sends us inward into our own internal environment like it does with nature. This may cause a drop in social activities and offer a moment to pause and realign ourselves with our values and goals.  When it becomes pathological, this inward movement may engender a feeling of sadness and loneliness. While the emotional expression of this phase is sadness or grief, for those prone to conditions like depression, you may find yourself more likely to experience mild to moderate symptoms.  It is a common complaint during this time of year.    

On a physical level, the metal phase can be connected with a spike in cases of skin and respiratory related disorders like dry skin, eczema, cough, and asthma.  Temperature and weather patterns play a significant role as the season experiences an intensifying dryness in an already desert environment here in Southern California.  The dry air enters the sinus passages that may lead to sinus problems. Every year there is a rise in sinus infections during the metal season. And we are able to consistently ease this discomfort by moistening the nasal passages through the use of acupuncture and related herbs.  This dryness may spread to the lungs and strip them of needed moisture that eventually leads to a cough, ragged breathing, or asthmatic episodes.  

Furthermore, it may aggravate anyone predisposed to dry skin and therefore it may lead to flare ups of general itchiness, eczema or psoriasis.  Personally, even though the fall is my favorite time of year, the dryness aggravates my own skin causing whole body dryness and unexplained patches of peeling, dry skin.  As a student of this medicine, I was relieved to find a reason for this occurrence. I received multiple treatments for my itchy skin that ultimately brought these symptoms to an end.

Since we are not yet in Autumn, it is the perfect time to review your symptoms with your acupuncturist to determine whether dryness might affect you this season.  In addition to acupuncture, we have many herbal formulas to help improve your blocked sinuses, cough, asthma, dry skin, sadness, or any other ailments that may make you feel out of sorts in this upcoming Autumn season.