Staying Healthy in Autumn

Chinese medicine pays a lot of attention to how we prevent disease rather than just cure it. In the ancient classics of medicine it was said that the superior physician prevents rather than treats. Treating once a disease has arisen is like starting to build weapons only after war has already broken out. They'll still work, but we are seriously at a disadvantage. One of the best ways to stay health is harmonizing our diet, behavior, and other things with the seasons. Since we are now in Autumn (as the weather clearly shows here in northern New Jersey), we'd like to offer some tips on staying healthy in Autumn. 

In the Lü Shi Chun Qiu (The Spring and Autumn Annals of Lü Bowei; 呂氏春秋), the classic text of Chinese philosophy from the 3rd century BCE, it is said that the Emperor Shao Hao (少昊), and his son Ru Shou (蓐收) are the sovereigns associated with the three months of Autumn. This obscure statement sheds tremendous light on the essence of Autumn, and eventually allows us to understand how to stay healthy this season

According to some legends (since they do vary), Shao Hao was one of the Five Emperors (五帝) of ancient China. His mother was a weaver goddess who fell in love with the planet Venus, and the result of that union was Shao Hao. Together with his son Ru Shou, Shao Hao settled on Chang Liu Mountain where they ruled over the Western Heavens and controlled the setting of the sun. In Chinese sciences the west is associated with the Metal phase, and therefore Autumn. Certainly, Autumn is the time of year that corresponds to sunset during the day, and in traditional Chinese astrology Venus is the planet of the Metal phase, and thus too corresponds with Autumn. Even the son’s name, Ru Shou, has the word “shou” (收) within – the word meaning “to harvest” or “to collect,” an attribute of Autumn.

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