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The 5 Seasons of Traditional Chinese Medicine – and How They Affect Your Health

WTHN Team/07.07.21

Colorful flowers


In nature, the seasons are everything. Seasons determine when plants grow and when they wither, when animals gather food and when they hide away. So it makes sense that in natural, holistic healing, the seasons play an important role for us, too.

The teachings of Traditional Chinese Medicine map out five seasons, rather than the four we’re used to observing in the West. Each season brings its own energy, and its own rhythms, that can help us tap into what our bodies need most.


Ancient Chinese practitioners identified five elements – fire, earth, metal, water, and wood – that constitute the natural world. Summer, perhaps unsurprisingly, is the Fire element’s peak, with its long, hot days and bright, starry nights. This “true summer” lasts from the solstice on June 21 through the middle of August, and is often a time of socializing and celebrating. It’s important to give your body balance during summer, with cooling foods that also keep your energy up, and with herbs that nourish your hardworking heart. 

If all this activity (and, often, indulgence) begins to feel exhausting, try our Indulgence Relief herbal blend for a re-centering reset. And if there’s travel on your calendar, pack our immune-boosting Daily Immune Support and keep plane germs in their place. 

Late Summer

This second summer begins in mid-August and winds down with the Autumn Equinox on September 22. It’s a season of grounding, nurturing, and reflection, rooted in the Earth element. Pay attention to digestion during late summer – How is your appetite? Is stress tying your stomach in knots? Show your belly some love with our Daily Digestion herbal tonic, created to care for your gut microbiome while clearing bloat and tuning up your metabolic engine.  


Think of autumn, ruled by the Metal element, as a time to let go and clean house, so to speak. As leaves turn golden and fall – from the equinox on September 22 to the Winter Solstice on December 21 – we can take a deep breath in, and then out, releasing habits, commitments, or thoughts that no longer sustain us. At the same time, we can strengthen our respiratory system for the cold and flu season that lies ahead with remedies like Fast Forward– a trusted formula for lung, throat, and sinus support. 


In winter, our bodies need respite and restoration. Look to warm baths, nutrient-dense foods, and pastimes that help you reconnect with what you love. At this time of year, the Water element governs the thoughtful, quiet practice of tending to you. Consider your resting habits and how they support you – Do you struggle to find deep sleep? Do you wake feeling refreshed, or groggy? Try our naturally sedative Sleep Well blend, especially during the season of hibernation, to gather your energy for all that lies ahead. 


The world outside blooms in springtime, and within, we also grow, reach, and hope. The Wood element influences this season of transition, which spans from the Spring Equinox on March 20 to the Summer Solstice on June 21. During spring, cultivate your focus and creativity to design a future where you’ll thrive. Find that powerful state of energized calm with Daily Calm, created to help you surf life’s ebbs and flows. And when the Wood Element really rears its head with spring allergens, try In the Clear and breathe easy all springtime long. 

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