Chinese Medicine & the Seasons: Late Summer
In Chinese Medicine the seasons have specific rhythms and are interconnected with our body’s rhythms and cycles. Each season represent parts of the body, and is tied into Nature’s cycle, corresponding to one of Five Elements (Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, Wood).
There’s an extra season in Chinese Medicine known as Late Summer- beginning in the last few weeks of February and lasting four to 6 weeks. It correlates to the Earth element and is a time of harvest, a time of plenty, of reaping what we have worked for throughout the year. The plants and animals have grown and produced the fruit of their labour.
If our Earth is of good quality, like quality soil, we will have the ability to produce good food to nourish ourselves
Earth is a point of stillness in the cycle of seasons, with the lush tranquil energy of heat, ripening and full. This is a time of slowing down. Earth season acts as the transition from Yang to Yin energy, supporting the space between the cycle of Spring growth (Wood), active Summer abundance (Fire) and the inward, cooler emotions of Fall and Winter (Metal & Water). Earth element is associated with the stomach, spleen, pancreas, muscles, and is related to the mouth.
Element – Earth, Color – Yellow, Nature – Yin/Yang Balance Organs – Stomach, Spleen, Emotion – Worry/Pensive Taste – Sweet, Condition – Damp
Late Summer Earth is a time of transition and a good time to relax, eat fresh food, and enjoy family and friends. Earth is a short, languid and still season, and it rests at the centre of Natures cycles. You may struggle with bouts of fatigue as a response to this season, and this low energy and/or motivation is usually triggered by over-exertion, emotional stress, boredom, or lack of sleep from the activities of Summer Fire. Make sure you get proper rest, exercise, stress reduction and nutrition to boost your energy in this Earth time.
In Late Summer, the rising strength in Earth energy creates stability, settledness, and a sense of “home”. Earth corresponds with nurturing, the Mother, a sense of self-worth, bonding and formation of trust in relationships.
When Earth is happy and nurtured, the Spleen is healthy with good digestion and elimination. The mind is balanced and secure, with a sense of belonging, grounding and connection.
When Earth is imbalanced, we worry or have excessive mental agitation, lack of concentration or memory loss. We feel needy for food or attention, seeking sympathy or distraction. An imbalance in Earth can manifest in exhaustion, loss of appetite, poor digestion or loose stools and diarrhea, easy bruising, excess menstrual flow or other bleeding disorders.
Due to its associated organs being digestive ones it makes sense that eating well at this time assists with balancing the Earth energy.
Eating for Late Summer
Orange and Yellow are the colours associated with Late Summer along with the taste of Sweet, so including foods that have these colours and taste will in turn assist health at this time. Good options include sweet potato, pumpkin & carrots.
Please keep in mind that sweets and processed/refined foods can aggravates the pancreas and spleen, irritate the stomach, and create excessive acid and “dampness”. This results in feeling more anxious, tired and unwell. Resisting these types of sweets is advised.
Eat fresh, nourishing foods. Fresh, local foods and don’t combine too many ingredients Be moderate with sugar, fried foods, and dairy. In hot, humid weather, avoid overeating. Lightly cooked food on moderate temperature is easier on digestive system. Eat sour or pungent flavors to help disperse dampness and regulate digestion. Get exercise as dampness tends to settle in and make you feel lethargic.
Always remember balancing work, socializing and self- care is essential for a healthy body, mind and spirit.