Letting Go: The nature of lungs and large intestine

JannaNewsletter Articles

I have always loved the onset of autumn.  The refreshing quality of the air, the warming foods, the rich colors, the golden sun and the harvest celebrations are all deeply nourishing for my body and soul.  Our culture takes on a more focused but rhythmic approach to life, and our spirits are still warm from summer socializing.  During this time I turn my attention to fortification and detoxification in preparation for the cooler months to come.


There is a fall cleaning urge that resembles the spring cleaning urge, and we should be feeling it about now.  Bringing more activity indoors highlights congestion inside.  Cobwebs, dust, clutter, and broken household items may be more noticeable than usual.  The clothing closet begs for thinning out and replacing old items that no longer fit or have worn out.  This goes for your surroundings and your body. 


Fall cleansing focuses on the metal element in the Chinese Medicine System; the lung and large intestine.  The lungs bring in invigorating oxygen and release water soluble toxins through the mist of the breath.  The lungs also store grief, so practices that allow for deep sighs and releasing stored “blues” unburden the lungs of heavy energy that reduce respiratory immunity.  The large intestine absorbs energizing, electrolyte-rich water and releases copious amounts of bodily waste.  Bowel regularity is an important factor in reducing the toxicity load of the body and encouraging emotional and mental clarity. 


Deep cleansing and renewal of these organs is highly recommended during this time to ensure a healthy winter.  Mucus build up in the lungs and sinuses can provide fertile ground for opportunistic respiratory illnesses.  Mucus and waste build up in the colon can lead to reduced immunity against intestinal bugs.  The mucus membranes of these organs is a first line of defense for microbial and viral challengers.  Taking time to “clear the cobwebs” and “patch up any drafty places” from the lungs and colon are a good investment of time and energy.  In wellness terms, this translates into cleansing the membranes and healing up inflamed, over-porous ones to keep unwanted microbes and viruses from invading and taking up residence in our bodies.


As usual, Mother Nature has also designed a lovely assortment of medicine to help with the effort.  The oils of ginger, onions, leeks and garlic all open pores and break up mucus.  Warming bone or vegetarian broths soothe and repair membranes.  Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbages and kale improve detoxification through the intestinal tract.  Dark and fibrous leafy greens stimulate the intestines and winter squashes soothe it.  Inhaling Eucalyptus oil opens the lungs and lifts the spirit.   Herbal Bitters really shine this time of the year as they improve digestion of heavier foods and improve regularity. 


Feeling overwhelmed with all of this cleanup work to do?  Tune into the breath.  It allows us to find our own naturally restorative rhythm.  How much activity is fortifying and not draining?  How much cleansing is energizing and not depleting?  What sadness or disappointment is ready to be released and not forced and destabilizing?  We will know the answer to all of these questions as we observe the breath.  Full, natural, rhythmic inhales and exhales represent flowing energy.  Erratic, restricted, or forced breathing shows you where energy has stopped flowing. 


Need help with this process?  Consider a session of therapeutic bodywork.  If your situation is “complicated,” then develop a plan with a naturopath.  Whatever needs you have, the Temple Team is ready to support you this season. 


Let go of what is no longer useful and go towards the flow!



In joyful service,



Kristi Zimmer, LMP


Co-Owner of Tummy Temple