Integrative Medicine Blog
Late Summer: How Our Body Transitions
Making adjustments to what we eat can help our body better transition to fall.
As the time of year that is directly opposite the Chinese New Year (occurring in January or February) and one of the ‘seasons’ in Chinese medical theory, ‘late summer’ is related to the spleen (modern day pancreas) and the stomach as well as the ‘earth’ element. The earth element is related to abundance and change. Late summer is marked by plentiful harvests and the transition from the heat and humidity of summer into the cool dry season of autumn.
Generally speaking, each organ in the body is connected to a season, and has it’s own elemental, physical, mental and emotional properties. When these properties produce specific signs and symptoms it denotes a pathological imbalance within that specific organ system.
According to Chinese medical theory the spleen and stomach together have the functions of assimilating nutrients from food to form the blood and regulating the water distribution throughout the body to hydrate and enliven cells. In a balanced state there is abundant energy, integrity in thought and actions, while a disfunction of these organs is related to anxiety and overthinking.
The flavor associated with late summer is sweet. An overabundance of sweetness (from overeating or indulging in sweets and carbohydrates) can cause abdominal distention, loose stools, constipation, headaches, achey joints, and fatigue to name a few. Eating simply with minimal seasoning during late summer (as well as throughout the year!) helps ensure healthy digestion which also promotes centeredness of being.
Paul Pitchford beautifully states, “To attune with late summer, one may listen to its subtle currents, as if living at the instant where the pendulum reverses its swing. Find the rhythms and cycles that make life simple and harmonious.” As we move through late summer we can boost our vitality by eating plainly and avoiding overindulging. We can create a centered mind state by using breathing practices, meditation, and exercises that clear the mind to carry you through life’s many transitions.
Pitchford, Paul. Healing With Whole Foods, 3rd ed. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2002. pp 339-340.