by Setareh Moafi, Ph.D., L.Ac.
While this is a transitional period between Summer and Fall, late Summer is itself a season according to Chinese Medicine. August is the end of the Fire season and moving into the Metal season of Fall. The transitional period, known as late Summer, is Earth.
The Earth element rules the late Summer as well as all seasonal transitions, so it's a most important time to strengthen our Earth - in particular the Spleen and Stomach organs.
The Earth element relates to the digestive system and includes the Spleen, Pancreas and Stomach functions. Restoring health to our digestive system is fundamental to restoring health to our lives. The digestive system creates Qi to support a strong immune function and fluids to support the hormones and healthy endocrine function.
Digestion is about transformation; transformation of food into energy and substance to build the body. Having a strong Earth energy also supports transformation in our lives as well so we can create the life we want to live. And perhaps most importantly, creating a strong Earth energy in our lives helps support having healthy relationships especially within our family.
Weakness in the Earth organs can lead to sweet cravings which then cause the body to accumulate dampness. Dampness is a fungal terrain, often resulting from a diet heavy in carbohydrates, fried foods, dairy and sugar (even in the form of fruits).
A fungal terrain can also develop from using various drugs such as antibiotics, sulfa drugs, chemotherapy, birth control pills, corticosteroids, antacids and acid blocking medications.
Dampness is reflected in our lives through the feeling of being stuck or lacking clarity. Dampness is also associated with psychological imbalances such as Obsessive Compulsiveness Disorder and hoarding.
Imbalance in one's Earth can also lead to excess accumulation of heat in the Stomach causing acid reflux, indigestion, excessive appetite and even anxiety as the Stomach dumps the overflow of heat into the Heart.
The Earth element thrives on a simple diet based on unprocessed foods, a calm mind, and a regular daily rhythm with meals, exercise and rest.
The following tips will help strengthen the Earth energy to help bring clarity in your life and clear the heat and dampness that causes burnout and creates a sluggish body and mind.
6 Tips for a Healthy Earth:
1) Eat meals at regular times and without distractions. The digestive system thrives on eating with a relaxed state of mind. Try also to not skip meals and eat snacks if low blood sugar is an issue.
2) Cut back on sugar, including fruit. Even 'healthy' Summer fruit have a high sugar content that can create dampness and lead to immune suppression and Fall colds and flus.
3) Eat more root vegetables. Root veggies such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots and rutabaga help anchor your body's energy and calm your mind.
4) Take enzymes and probiotics daily. Enzymes taken with meals will help break down food and prevent stagnation and heat accumulation in the Stomach. Along with a balanced probiotic supplement, enzymes are essential for your gut health, which is the core of your immune function and brain health. Not sure what to take? Call us at 408-244-8565 or stop in and pick up a bottle of our favorite probiotics and enzymes.
5) Exercise to strengthen your Earth. Calming exercises such as Yoga and Qi Gong are especially important to integrate into your routine. Join us for weekly Qi Gong classes Mondays at 11:45am. You can also do the short late Summer Yin Yoga practice with Dr. Setareh Moafi in the video at the top of this article :)
6) Go to bed a little earlier - before 11pm is optimal. It's also helpful to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day.
The transition toward the cooler Autumn season through this late Summer period allows us to harness our energy and create a calmer, more regular rhythm for optimal health during the upcoming Yin seasons of Fall and Winter.