As the fiery joy of true Summer comes to an end, according to the teachings of Traditional Chinese Medicine, we move into Late Summer — a time for nurturing, nourishing, and growth.
This powerful fifth season, which takes place from from August to the fall equinox in September, is associated with the Earth element and invites us to cultivate practices that will sustain us through the approaching autumn and winter season.
To optimize our health during this season, we’ve asked WTHN Healer Thalia Kazakos to educate us on Late Summer’s element and organs, and provide helpful information and tips on nutrition, exercise, and healing practices. Invest in your wellbeing now, and reap the rewards all year long.
The Earth Element and the Spleen & Stomach
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Late Summer is associated with the Earth element. The Earth element is about community and reciprocity. It is the perfect season to spend time outside with family and friends, taking in the sunshine’s warmth and nourishment.
The Stomach and Spleen are the organs associated with the Earth element. They not only function as an organ in the physical body but also as an Official which has an energetic presence that affects the mind and emotions.
Healthy Earth is all about nourishment, as these are the two organs that help us digest and assimilate not just food but information, feelings and our life experiences. Hot humid summer weather can exacerbate heat and dampness in the system and put additional stress on the Stomach and Spleen.
Harmonizing with Earth’s Energy & Symptoms of Imbalance
When Earth is balanced it manifests as upright energy (qi), satisfaction, integrity and harmony. Earth imbalances can cause all a variety of digestive issues; as well as feelings of heaviness, fatigue and swelling. Issues like brain fog, trouble concentrating, overthinking and worry can also result from one or both of the Earth Officials being out of balance.
The Yi, one of the five wu shen (spirits) that live in the yin organs, referred to as the Intellect, resides in the Spleen. The Yi, which translates as thought and intention, helps manifest visions and inspiration received from the Liver to actualize and take form in our lives. When the Spleen is strong we have a clear mind and can focus. We know what feeds our soul and can integrate it into our lives.
Here are some practical ways you can support these organ Officials and optimize their functions during the Late Summer season.
Nourishment & Nutrition in Late Summer
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Law of Midday and Midnight, also known as the Chinese Clock, designates a 2-hour period of time during the 24-hour cycle where each organ Official is at its optimum function. The peak hours for the Stomach and Spleen are between 7-11am, making it the ideal time to eat nutritious food, use our muscles and treat our Stomach and Spleen with acupuncture and herbal medicine.
Breakfast is considered the most important meal in TCM because the Stomach particularly is most active between 7–9am. It is considered a sign of good health to have an appetite in the morning. Eating a balanced and nutritious breakfast at the start of your day encourages metabolism and digestion.
Enjoy all the nutrient dense fruits and vegetables that are in season this time of year:
- Favor foods like melons, berries, cherries, tomatoes, summer squash, rice and oats as their sweet flavors naturally strengthen the Stomach and Spleen.
- Cooling and damp draining foods like celery, spinach, mushrooms, radish, asparagus, broccoli and seaweed keep damp-heat from accumulating in the system.
- Opt for cooler proteins like turkey, duck, clams, white fish, lentils, chickpeas, tofu and tempeh.
- Drink green tea, mint, lemon, lime, and cucumber water to build and maintain yin during hot weather.
Exercise & Self-Care in Late Summer
Earth energy is stable, sympathetic and nurturing. Now is a great time to engage in grounding and centering activities like being barefoot in nature, acts of service, intentional living, mindfulness practices and nurturing yourself and others.
The Spleen rules the muscles and from 9-11am is the best time to workout, take an exercise class, practice yoga or go on a walk or run. It is also a great time to treat the muscles with cupping, massage and topical rubs, like the Head To Toe Muscle Rub.
Prepare for Fall With A Seasonal Tune-Up
It is recommended for everyone to get an acupuncture treatment during each of the 5 seasons to rejuvenate and revitalize with the organs and element of the season.
Schedule your WTHN Late Summer Treatment to boost year-round wellness. This custom seasonal session will focus on acupoints that promote healthy digestion, boost immunity ahead of cold and flu season, and soothe the body and mind so you can enter fall with a fresh start.