Tips for Preventing and Treating Illnesses due to Metal Imbalance: Lung and Large Intestine

As we enter autumn, we move into the time of year associated with the Metal element in Chinese medicine.  The organs that express the Metal element in our bodies are the lungs and large intestine.

To prevent and treat a cold, do a nasal wash with a neti pot twice each day (In place of a neti pot, you may use a Nasopure bottle, available at Clover’s. In case of fever, nasal wash is not recommended). Eliminate dairy, use warming spices and herbs (ginger, pepper, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, chili) in teas and food preparation. While pranayama and aerobic yogic practice (e.g. surya namaskar) are helpful in preventing illness, it is necessary to reduce these practices during illness and focus on restful practices such as yoga nidra, silence and meditation. Get enough rest and avoid overeating in order to conserve prana. For congestion, inhale steam for 10 minutes daily.

Ayurveda and Chinese medicine recognize that healing asthma is not possible if constipation is not relieved. Both traditions acknowledge a connection between asthma and emotional issues related to serious loss experienced in childhood. Yoga nidra is recommended as a means of relaxing spasm of the chest and lungs and chanting om is suggested as a tool for strengthening and relaxing the body. It may be necessary to use neti (nasal wash) in order to facilitate the practice of pranayama. Appropriate postures will vary from person to person.

Use a neti pot twice daily. Become aware of mental blockages and images that arise with symptoms. Meditation and yoga nidra are recommended. Prevent these conditions by staying warm in cool weather and eliminating smoking. Steam inhalation will provide relief.

Kapalabhati (breath of fire) and nadi sodhana (alternate nostril breathing) are recommended treatments for bronchitis. Choose yoga postures that open the chest like backbends, forward bending postures to massage the abdomen, and of course, rest with yoga nidra. Take daily walks; inhale steam. Soak the feet in hot water with mustard added, at least 20 minutes, until feet are rosy and feel gingery.


Eliminate starch and processed foods, drink plenty of water but not while eating, and massage abdomen. Kapalabhati provides rhythmic stimulation for the colon. Here are some tips for creating a yoga practice to support your Metal energy

Choose postures that stretch the Lung and Large Intestine meridians (neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists).
Choose postures and practices that create warmth (unless you have a fever), like surya namaskar (Sun salutations) or other flowing sequences.
Choose practices that promote inward focus (twists, forward bends, meditation, yoga nidra).
Choose postures that expand chest (backbends) and massage abdomen (forward bends).
Create an environment for your practice that inspires quiet reverence (use candles, sacred chant, images or items of simple beauty).
Practice between 3:00-7:00 AM, when the Metal energy is most available.

Self-Assessment for your Metal Energy

I protect my neck and shoulders from cold weather with warm clothing
My diet changes in the fall with more cooked, savory food and root vegetables
My home and office are clear of clutter
All that is not essential is released from my schedule
I choose to give acknowledgment to others whom I value
I am comfortable receiving acknowledgment from others
I grieve and release experiences that are no longer valuable to me
I am aware of my spiritual connections with others and the Universe
I have a regular spiritual practice


Keep the lungs breathing fully to support your immune system. Cardiovascular activity and yogic breathing exercises are helpful in keeping your lungs moving fully so that toxins are released completely and the lungs are able to absorb fresh air.

We usually do not use our complete lung capacity which allows residual air at the bottom or the lungs to be stagnant. Take time to fully expel residual air and take in fresh. Shallow breathing and the inhalation of toxins prevent us from releasing toxins with our exhalation. These also limit how much clean air and energy, or qi, we can breathe in from our environment. This diminishes our immunity.


In the fall, it is common to experience more symptoms related to a condition known in Chinese medicine as wind invasion.

If you suffer from wind invasion you may experience increased stiffness in neck and shoulders which may go deeper into the body and become a cold or flu. The neck is the area of the body that is most vulnerable to being invaded by wind and cold.

Many points are located on the neck, so protecting this area with a scarf or high-collar is helpful in preventing illness, especially if you are prone to colds and flu during cooler weather.


As we move out of summer into the cooler, dryer weather of fall, consider eating a diet that is in alignment with this seasonal shift. This will mean eating foods that are spicier and well-cooked.

While raw green salads supported your body’s health during the heat and humidity of summer, it will be helpful to decrease the amount of raw food you eat and increase the amount of cooked food in your diet. Your body is using more of its qi, or energy, to stay warm in the cooler temperatures. Eating raw food requires more energy than digesting food that is well-cooked, so don’t squander the energy you need to stay warm by eating lots of cold and raw food.

Consider adding more onion, garlic, ginger and other warming spices to your food. Instead of raw green salads, cooking your vegetables with herbs and spices will help the body both increase and preserve its warmth. Garlic and ginger are both traditionally believed to be helpful in supporting the immune system which may be more challenged by the colder weather if you are prone to respiratory illnesses.