Moving From Fire to Earth Season
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) each season correlates to specific organs, elements, and emotions. Summer relates to the heart organ, fire element, and the emotion of joy. It is also the most yang time of year, an energy in our body and the natural world that reflects light, heat, growth, activity, and creativity.
There is also a fifth season according to TCM. The additional season, called late summer, bridges the warmer and colder times of year. This is when the intense heat gradually dissipates, moisture increases, and is a time for harvesting. Late summer is connected to the spleen organ system, earth element, and the emotion of worry.
Summer and the Fire Element
This season is connected to the heart organ which regulates our emotions and physically is responsible for moving blood throughout the body.
When the heart is balanced, we are calm and joyful.
Out of balance, there may be insomnia, nervousness, depression, mania, irregular heartbeat, speech issues, and poor memory.
Too much of the fire element can cause excess heat and dryness in the body seen in issues like UTIs, constipation, mouth ulcers, red eyes, and a dry throat.
Foods to help cool you down
Food is used as therapy in Traditional Chinese Medicine and adjusting our diet helps keep us in tune with the season. Foods are categorized by an energetic temperature and can either warm or cool our body.
Enjoy these foods in your summer diet to help cool you off:
Fruit: Apple, lemon, kiwi, watermelon, orange, pear, pineapple, tangerine
Veggies and herbs: Cucumber, spinach, tomato, mint, dill, cilantro
Tea: green tea is thought to be cooling in nature and best for warmer weather or hot body types.
Even though a hot drink may seem counter intuitive, it helps bring heat to the surface of our body, ultimately cooling us down.
Late Summer and the Earth Element
The spleen (and stomach) organs are connected to digestion, working to transform our food in to the energy and resources our body needs.
When the Spleen organ is balanced, we are emotionally grounded and have good concentration and memory. Strong digestion, immunity, and energy are also indicative of spleen health.
There is a tendency toward overthinking and worry, digestive issues (gas, bloating, loose stools), and fatigue when the Spleen is out of balance.
Harmonize with Late Summer
Focusing on digestion during late summer helps us connect with the earth element and support our overall health.
Digestion is considered a fire in Chinese Medicine, and foods that are warmer are more easily metabolized. This includes warm in temperature, as well as what is considered warm energetically.
As the weather begins to cool, cut back on foods right out of the refrigerator, ice water, and raw fruit and vegetables. Increase warming spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, turmeric), garlic, ginger, onions, root vegetables, soups and stews.
Treat winter diseases in the summer
Acupuncture is best when used preventatively. There is a theory in TCM to strengthen the body in summer to reduce the severity of ailments of the upcoming seasons. This is a good time to prepare for typical fall and winter health concerns (allergies, poor circulation, joint pain, tendency toward feeling cold, fatigue). Start treatments now to be your healthiest self!