According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) there is an extra season in the year that we all experience, but as Westerners, don't consider as a separate season. And it's happening right now! Late summer time starts at the end of August and lasts until the fall equinox. Late summer is a season all of it's own and relating to the Earth element, it is the time when fruits and veggies are bursting for harvest and energetically, we begin to slow down as we get ready for fall.
Each element and season has a corresponding organ. In TCM, Earth is related to the Spleen. The Spleen organ is closely related to the pancreas in Western medicine. The TCM Spleen is responsible for digesting food and converting it into energy, similar to the way the pancreas releases insulin to allow the body's cells to absorb ingested glucose, providing the cells with energy. Unlike the pancreas, however, the TCM Spleen is also responsible for providing warmth and vitality to the body, providing energy for immune function, as well as clear mental energy.
Staying Healthy in Late Summer
This is a good time to relax, eat fresh food, and enjoy the company of family and friends. You may struggle with bouts of fatigue during this season, which are usually triggered by over-exertion or lack of sleep. For a lot of us it's difficult to slow down after the activities of summer or we're kicking it into high gear because school is starting. This can really lead to burn out. Here are some helpful tools:
- Make sure you get more rest during this time: Get to bed a little earlier now. Early to mid-summer, you can stay up late because your body doesn't require as much sleep as it does the rest of the year. But late summer you need a little more rest.
- Stress check: The Spleen hates stress. That's why you see many people whose digestion is upset with stress. Stress often affects the Spleen in that way. Exercise, deep breathing exercises, meditation, talk therapy, massage, or any calming activity that you enjoy are all good ways to manage your stress.
- Eat Well: Lightly cooked veggies are perfect. Try not to eat a bunch of cold or raw foods. To build the energy of the Spleen, incorporate some of these foods:
- Garbanzo Bean
- Some Animal Products
- Sweet Potato
- Sweet Rice
- Winter Squash
Hope you all have a safe and healthy late summer, and if you need a seasonal health boost, schedule an appointment!