When we speak of the seasons in a Western sense, we have four seasons - Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. From an Eastern perspective, the Summer season is divided into two - Summer and Late Summer. Late Summer is a transition time when we move from the expansive growth of spring and summer which is more Yang energy toward the more inward energy of fall and winter which is more Yin energy.
When is Late Summer from a Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective
Late Summer, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, is from the last week of August through at least the Autumn Equinox here in the Northern Hemisphere. This is the last burst of nature’s energy to help food ripen before harvest. It can be very hot and in some places humid before we make the transition to the cooler crisper mornings that Fall brings.
All this talk of preparing for harvest - it shouldn’t be a surprise that this corresponds with the Earth element. The Earth element correlates with the Spleen and Stomach organs and meridians in the TCM system. When we are out of balance during this time, dampness and humidity tend to amplify symptoms. Worry and overwhelm are hallmarks of an imbalance in this season. When in balance, empathy and nurturing are in the flow.
How Can I Create Ease in My Body?
So how can we seek to balance ourselves during this final burst of Yang energy?
Grounding practices are always important, but rise in their importance during this time frame. Creating balance between the inner and outer awareness and grounding our energy down into the Earth helps create stability.
Supporting digestion is important all year long but eating for the Spleen and Stomach needs helps to balance their energy. When these organs are out of balance you can experience nausea, belching, bloating, stomach bugs, loose stools, weight gain, stomach and intestinal rumbling, water retention, feeling heavy with sore joints, inflammation, dizziness, infections, low energy, worry and overwhelm.
There can be a disruption of digestion and water metabolism so edema can be an issue - especially in the lower extremities. Foods that can aggravate these symptoms are things you will find at the typical American backyard BBQ: sugar and sweets, dairy, refined, processed grains, flour and all starches, too much raw food - fruits or veggies, cold/iced beverages and foods, alcohol, deep fried foods.
Foods and Best Practices to Restore Balance
Foods and best practices that help resolve some of these digestive issues are:
- Veggies like scallions, asparagus, celery, potato, mustard or dandelion greens, mushrooms, squash
- Fruits should be cooked if possible and in season and locally sourced
- Herbs like basil, dill, oregano, sage, cilantro, parsley, cardamom, fennel and coriander
- Nuts, seeds and beans like Aduki beans, mung beans, pumpkin seeds and peas
- Animal proteins like yogurt, fish, chicken and beef that are organic and grass fed
- Soak your grains prior to cooking
- Teas like green and chrysanthemum (if you have an allergy to ragweed you may want to only do green tea)
I like to tell my clients that they should look for yellow and orange foods during this season. It’s a nice easy way to remember what you are looking for if this list I gave is a lot to remember. Just like the golden rays of late summer sunshine, you are looking for foods in the same color family.
This can be a challenging season for many people. Digestive issues, bloating and worry aren’t the only areas you can see symptoms of the Earth element needing more love. When the Spleen and Stomach are out of balance you can see spotting mid cycle, early starts, prolonged spotting after periods.
If you are struggling with any of these symptoms, check out our membership program Body Wisdom to learn more about how to care for yourself in this season and all year around.Care Consideration: Just a reminder that the above information is not a substitute for medical care and is not a substitute for medical advice or recommendations from a healthcare provider. This information is not intended to treat, mitigate or cure any disease. That said, we encourage you to connect with an Acupuncturist in your community to learn more about this and other Traditional Chinese Medicine options. If you’ve got questions about Chinese herbal medicine or getting started with an Acupuncturist, feel free to connect with us on email@example.com.