Late summer – the fifth season
Chinese medicine recognizes five seasons: spring, summer, late summer, fall, and winter. Late summer is important because it is the shift between the warm seasons to the cool seasons. It is the time when the hot yang energy of the summer starts to shift into the cool yin energy of autumn.
Chinese medicine associates our organs with phases or elements. In late summer, the earth phase is dominant. The organs associated with earth are the stomach and spleen. The earth element is all about transformation. It signifies the turning point between the peak of summer and the gradual change into fall. The earth element demonstrates an inflection point, just like the space between an inhalation and exhalation.
Alignment with the seasons and phases
People are often fascinated to hear about how their organs are associated with the different seasons and how this relates to symptoms they experience in their bodies. In Chinese Medicine, there are five phases of transformation: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. While in Traditional Chinese Medicine these are called elements, Classical Chinese Medicine refers to them as phases because they develop and change into one another. The seasons and phases (or elements) associate as follows:
- Spring: Wood. This is when nature starts stirring from winter’s dormancy. Trees and plants blossom. New branches grow out of old wood, and new growth begins.
- Summer: Fire. This is the time of warmth and activity. Nature is moving actively, and as a result is growing and flourishing.
- Late summer: Earth. This is the time of harvest. It is also is the pause between the rising of the warming and active phases of wood and fire and the declining and cooler phases of fall and winter.
- Fall: Metal. This is when nature lets go of what it no longer needs. Leaves fall from trees. Compost from the dead leaves enriches the soil so it can prepare for the next cycle of growth in the spring.
- Winter: Water. This is a time of rest. Animals hibernate, the days are shorter, and nature gets still and goes within to build up reserves.
How the late summer season influences the organs
As I shared earlier, the spleen and stomach are the organs associated with the earth element and late summer. This is a good time of year to focus on digestive health, centering, and stability. Ancient classical Chinese texts share that spleen and stomach energy are the foundation of health. The stomach takes in nutrition and works with the spleen to transform the nutrition into qi (energy) and blood. Spleen energy then transports the qi and blood to various organs.
Spleen energy is also responsible for holding and ascending energy. It holds the blood in the vessels. It helps keep organs like the bladder and uterus lifted. Weak spleen energy can result in prolapse of these organs, or varicose veins, for example. Stomach energy, on the other hand, is a descending energy. This energy helps food descend into the body to be transformed and utilized. When stomach energy is weak, the energy is said to rebel and go upward, which can result in indigestion, burping, etc.
Additionally, earth energy is responsible for the digestion of thoughts and emotions. Energy stagnates when we don’t express ourselves. As a result, we can feel mentally stuck. We may have a repetitive thought that we can’t get out of our head. We might even feel physically stuck with issues like constipation and bloating.
Help easing into the transition of late summer
Every individual is unique, and no two people will experience the same symptoms for exactly the same reason. When I see a new patient, I make the time to ask a lot of questions and review their health history. This allows me to determine what is going on with their energy. For example, it is important to determine whether their energy is getting stuck or is deficient. I develop a customized treatment to address their specific needs and restore the balance of energy. This might involve acupuncture needles, ear seeds, qigong exercises, and diet and lifestyle advice.
Want to talk about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you? I’d love to hear from you. Reach out and email me through our website or call or text 910-622-4269.
About the Author
Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca.
About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC
HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.