Late Summer: The Fifth Season in Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) recognizes Late Summer as an independent season with its own unique energy. This fifth season begins around the third week of August and runs through the Fall Equinox. Late Summer bridges the gap between the expansive growth and activity of spring/summer (Yang energy) and the more inward and still energies of fall/winter (Yin energy).

Maintaining Wellness in Late Summer

In TCM, any transition between the seasons provides an opportunity to reboot, reflect, and prepare for energetic changes. Cultivating balance in preparation for the coming season is one of the oldest forms of preventative medicine.

The Earth Element

Late Summer is associated with the element of Earth, which rules the Spleen and Stomach. The Earth element represents stability and encourages activities that keep you centered and grounded.

The organs related to the Earth Element are responsible for transforming everything we eat and drink into the nutrients and energy needed to sustain our entire body.

 

Earth Element Associations:

Color: Gold, Yellow

Season: Late Summer

Organs: Spleen & Stomach

Emotion: Worry

 

“In its central position the Earth is the pivot for all of the other Elements which encircle and spin around it. It is a place of stability within the body, mind, and spirit. From this stable anchor, change and growth can take place. Our food can be transformed and processed by the Stomach and Spleen and turned into qi that nourishes the mind, body, and spirit” – Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture, Angela Hicks, John Hicks, Peter Mole

Indicators of Earth Balance or Imbalance

When your Earth energy is balanced you experience:

  • healthy and regular digestion
  • strong immune defenses
  • abundant energy
  • relaxed mood
Symptoms associated with Earth imbalance:

  • bloating or indigestion
  • low immune system with frequent colds, flu, or allergies
  • lethargy or lack of energy
  • chronic worry
When your Earth energy is balanced you experience:

  • healthy and regular digestion
  • strong immune defenses
  • abundant energy
  • relaxed mood
Symptoms associated with Earth imbalance:

  • bloating or indigestion
  • low immune system with frequent colds, flu, or allergies
  • lethargy or lack of energy
  • chronic worry

 

The Spleen & Stomach

In traditional Chinese medicine, the Spleen and Stomach are not only responsible for our digestive health, but they also regulate the immune system and circulation of blood. Worry and anxiety are the emotional states most likely to impact the Spleen and Stomach and it can be difficult to avoid heightened stress levels in modern-day life.

TCM warns that ongoing stress can upset the balance of your digestive system – triggering overactive/underactive digestion or complete loss of appetite – and adversely affect your immune health. Though more human research is needed, recent studies on the relationship between your gut biome, stress, and overall health have found that gut bacteria play a huge role in regulating stress hormones and the immune system.

Proper nutrition, herbal remedies, and mindfulness exercises can be especially beneficial for nourishing your gut health, calming the mind, fortifying the immune system, and offsetting Spleen imbalance.

 

How to Balance the Energy of Late Summer

Late Summer is all about moderation, reflection, and slowing down. In comparison to the vibrant energy and abundant activity associated with summer and the Fire Element, you may experience low energy or reduced motivation in Late Summer. During this transitional time of the year, remaining centered and grounded is of utmost importance.

 

Here are a few tips for balancing Late Summer energy: 

  • Get Outside & Stay Active
  • Mindfulness & Avoiding Worry
  • Summer Nutrition
  • Promoting Immune Health

 

Get Outside & Stay Active

As the start of the school year draws closer and summer vacations come to an end, it’s not uncommon to feel the onset of end-of-summer blues. While we may be facing a change in routine, the warm summer weather has not yet shifted to the cooler temperatures of autumn. There is still plenty of time to enjoy the sunshine, get outside, and connect with the Earth.

Walking, running, hiking, and biking all provide the opportunity to appreciate your surroundings, get your heart pumping, and boost your physical and mental health. Regular exercise keeps your Qi and blood circulating and is fantastic against stress because increases the production of endorphins.

 

Mindfulness & Avoiding Worry

It is important to be mindful of what we mentally ingest at this time of year as Spleen imbalance is often associated with worry and anxiety. Overstimulation from technology, social media, and the news can leave us “on” at all times. Consider creating boundaries around screen time. When we unplug from being constantly connected, we give ourselves space to decompress and recharge, which ultimately benefits us both mentally and physically.

Grounding mind-body practices, meaningful self-care rituals, and mindfulness exercises (like gratitude journals) can help bring you back to center and settle the mind. Mind-body techniques (e.g., qi gong lung exercises, meditation, yoga, and tai chi) combine mental focus, mindfulness, controlled breathing, and body movements to manage pain, release tension, and boost overall health.

With their profound therapeutic qualities, essential oils are also effective for regulating emotions and releasing emotional blocks. Arogya’s soothing essential oils blends can be applied topically or diffused to promote tranquility and stress relief. Our signature blends include Calm, In Sync, and Meditation.

 

Summer Nutrition

Pickled watermelon rind with ginger.

Eating local, in-season, and whole foods as much as possible is something we recommend at any time of year. In addition to supplying you with healthy foods that support optimal digestion, this buying habit helps support your local farms. The Westport farmers’ market is open every Thursday morning in the Summer.

It is best to include a variety of cooked and raw foods in your summer diet, transitioning primarily to cooked foods as fall approaches. As part of our blog series on Eating Well, we have created recipes that inspire healthy, seasonal eating: Pickled Watermelon, Steamed Kale, Delectable Delicata Squash, and Roasted Butternut Squash.

 

Promoting Immune Health

The Five-Element theory outlines the interconnected relationship between the different elements and cycles of nature. Each element generates and nurtures the next, and, in the case of Late Summer, Earth transforms into Metal. Fall is associated with the Metal Element and the Lung meridian system, and colds and the flu start to circulate during this season. Cultivating a balanced Earth Element in Late Summer contributes to a strong immune system and healthy Lungs in the fall.

 

Tips to boost your immune system before fall:

 

Holistic Treatments for Summer Wellness

Traditional Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach to wellness – focusing on the person as a whole with the aim of preventing health issues. Rather than treating symptoms as they appear, this proactive approach makes it easy to detect and rid the body of imbalance.

Holistic treatments are recommended for energetic adjustment and health maintenance during the changing seasons, and holistic practitioners take the complex relationship between mind and body into account when addressing imbalances. The following complementary healing modalities help reduce and manage pain, relieve stress, improve energy, and enhance immunity.

 

Acupuncture

Successfully utilized throughout the centuries for preventative care, acupuncture treatments can quickly and effectively invite change and balance into our bodies. Our bodies are designed to maintain proper balance, but we tend to ignore the warning signs until we experience serious symptoms.

Pain and disease are mirrored through the meridians of the body. The strategic placement of very fine needles on specific points along meridian pathways helps to normalize the circulation of energy and restore their original function. Acupuncture treatments have been proven to reduce stress, relieve pain, enhance immunity, and rebalance the natural energy of the body.

 

Lymphatic Drainage

Lymphatic drainage treatments can provide a balanced, supportive reset during the transition between seasons. The lymphatic system is instrumental in protecting us from disease and assists the immune system in removing toxins from the body. Lymphatic drainage massages seek to improve energy flow, relieve tension, and stimulate lymphatic function.

Arogya’s lymphatic drainage treatments incorporate the Phyto 5 Biorhythmic Drainer, or “Biodraineur.” The Biodraineur mechanically reproduces the gentle movement of a manual lymphatic drainage massage. With similar benefits to a traditional cupping treatment, the Biodraineur’s cupping function helps eliminate impurities, improve circulation, alleviate pain and inflammation, and encourage the flow of Qi.

 

Craniosacral Therapy

Craniosacral therapy is a very gentle, light-touch treatment that releases tension in the central nervous systems as a means of allowing other systems in the body to relax, self-correct, and become free from pain.

Your therapist will use a variety of techniques to balance the cerebrospinal fluid within the spinal column and induce “Still Points.” Still Points are the gradual slowing down and eventual pause in the craniosacral rhythm, which is the measurable rhythm of the cerebrospinal fluid – similar to your breathing or heartbeat.

A craniosacral therapy session results in deeper and deeper states of relaxation as old blockages are released and balance restored. Profound effects can be felt throughout the body and can last days to weeks after treatment. Benefits include the release of emotional and physical tension and increased overall vitality. Visit our blog on Craniosacral Therapy & the Nervous System to learn more.

 


 

Late Summer offers us a pause between the cycles of nature to reboot and prepare for the coming season. Life rhythms will shift towards more structured routines and the expansive energy of summer transitions to the introspective energy of fall.

Traditional Chinese medicine tells us that by living in harmony with our natural environment and adapting as the seasons change, we can channel the qualities of each season to promote longevity and overall well-being. Moving towards fall means that now is the time to reinforce the vitality of the Earth Element, focusing on stress reduction, nutrition, and grounding practices to strengthen your immune health.

 

By Nicole Briel