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Late summer: The Fifth Season in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Late summer is considered a separate season in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

It corresponds approximately to the last month of the summer.

Late summer is a time of transition between the hot summer and the cooler months ahead.

According to the Five-element Theory in Chinese medicine, there are five elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Each element is associated with a season, body organ, color, emotion, taste, and stage in life.

These are some late summer associations:

  • Element: Earth

  • Organs: spleen and stomach

  • Color: Yellow

  • Taste: Sweet

  • Smell: fragrant

  • Emotion: worry

  • Climate: dampness and humidity

  • Tissues: muscles

  • Virtues: empathy, nurturing

Late summer is a short period where the forces of nature are balanced but on the verge of significant changes. It is a time when the connection to Earth is fundamental, so one can be prepared for these changes.

Late summer is a time to recenter and be in harmony between the extremes. It is a time to be stable, grounded, in equilibrium, and balanced.

In Chinese medicine, the stomach and digestive system are at the center of our health, so pay attention and take care of your digestive system, especially this season.

A little bit about the Spleen and Stomach in Chinese Medicine

In a nutshell, the spleen and stomach are in charge of “transformation and transportation.” They transform food into nutrients, the sources of Qi (energy) and blood; and transport qi, blood, and fluids (water) to the rest of the body.

When in disharmony, digestion is affected, and the most common symptoms that arise are distention, lack of appetite, and loose stools. Because the spleen transports qi to the muscles, spleen deficiency also causes tiredness.

The spleen activity can be affected by dampness from the weather, the excessive consumption of cold liquids or icy drinks, overthinking, worrying, and pensiveness.

Late summer season recommendations

-Eat yellow foods. The color of the Earth element is yellow. By eating yellow foods, we strengthen the spleen and stomach and aid our digestion. Some yellow and orange foods are sweet potatoes, yams, squash, corn, papaya, and carrots. Other foods that harmonize our digestion are millet, cabbage, garbanzo beans, rice, amaranth, peas, apricots, and cantaloupe.

- Prefer warm and cooked meals. Cold and raw foods damage the spleen, create dampness, and interfere with the spleen's functions. Aromatic spices like ginger, fennel, coriander, caraway, and cardamom help to warm things up, resolve dampness, and strengthen the spleen.

-Avoid cold beverages and ice cream.

-Stay away from sugar. When in excess, sugar weakens the spleen.

- Exercise regularly but not strenuously.

- Avoid worry and overthinking.

- Practice yoga, meditation, or other activities that help you feel centered and grounded.

-Sing as loud as you can! Because the sound of the Earth element is "singing,” and why not?

- Moderation is essential for an easy late summer season.

Use acupuncture point Sp-9 with acupressure

Because dampness is a common denominator of late summer, getting rid of dampness is essential during this season. Dampness damages the Spleen and can make us feel fatigued, bloated, with low appetite, loose stools, and brain fog.

Sp-9 (Spleen-9) is the perfect acupuncture point because it helps resolve dampness. It is located in the depression inferior and posterior to the medial condyle of the tibia.

The easiest way to find it is by placing your finger in your inner ankle and following the bone up (posterior border of the tibia) until you reach the inferior edge of the knee. It is usually very tender there.

Massage this point in a circular motion for about 30 seconds. You can do it as often as you want, but doing it at least once a day will be helpful.

Nurturing the Earth element during this season will allow for an easier Fall season, and your immune system will be ready and strong to fight the flu and colds in the coming months.

Living according to the seasons can make us stronger and healthier.

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