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The Fifth Season According to TCM and What It Really Means for You

WTHN Team/06.08.21

Tropical tree

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the yearly calendar is divided into five seasons, not the four we typically think of in the West: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer, and Late Summer. This Fifth Season, as it’s also called, lasts from mid-August until the fall equinox on September 22. 

Practitioners of Eastern healing recognize that our health is closely intertwined with the seasons, and Late Summer is no exception. Here’s what the Fifth Season is all about – and what it means for your wellness.

The Earth Element

Each of the five elements – wood, fire, earth, metal, and water – correspond to a season, and the earth is Late Summer’s domain. That means it’s a season to ground our minds and bodies as we move from the vibrant, energy-packed summer to the slower, calmer autumn. The earth element is all about cultivating what helps us thrive. 

Digestion in Focus

The organs that make up your digestive system, also known as the all-important “gut,” take center stage during Late Summer – in particular, the spleen, pancreas, and stomach. Replenishing your spirit starts with nourishing your body, and a happy gut helps you get the nutrition you need without bloating or discomfort. We’re also always learning more about how the gut affects immunity, mental health, and head-to-toe well-being. Acupuncture and acupressure have both been used for millennia to support a healthy gut, and our herbal blends like Daily Digestion and Daily Detox are formulated with ancient herbs chosen to support your system from within.  

The Sweetest Season

Subtly sweet flavors (think fruits and root veggies vs. so-called “sweets”) are said to help support your Earth element, as are foods that are yellow in color, like squash, corn, and peppers. During Late Summer, move toward meals that are cooked and served warm, as opposed to the raw, refreshing eats you enjoyed during Summer. Think of it as starting to stoke your inner fire as Autumn peeks over the horizon.

Seeking Balance

In Late Summer, you’ll sense a shift from yang energy (more outward and strong) to yin (inward and soft) that’s worth paying attention to. In this powerful in-between time, look for ways to rethink your status quo – perhaps toward doing less. Yin and yang are complementary forces, and it’s important to remember that neither exists without the other. So stop and take stock: Do you feel overwhelmed, or under-challenged? Inspired, or drained? Late Summer is the pause you’ve been looking for to reset and re-center.

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