Late Summer Newsletter

Dear Community,
This newsletter picks up my series about the seasons and the organs and is about the late summer/earth element as it is seen through the eyes of Chinese Medicine. Included are suggestions for optimizing health through connecting with the season, a review of the Spleen and Stomach (earth element organs), and some research highlights about how Chinese medicine can help with health problems associated with the earth element.

In Chinese medicine the late summer season relates to the earth element and the spleen and stomach organs. The themes of this element include digestion and nourishment especially through food. It’s also about being grounded, a sense of belonging, focus and concentration, daily rhythms and routines, and healthy boundaries,

Have a Good Late Summer Connect to the Earth Element

Be in nature and appreciate our rocks, soil, valleys, plains and mountains as the foundation and container of life that springs up from it.

Get your hands dirty in the garden. Walk, stand, sit or lie down on the earth. (That’s my son Canyon walking barefoot with his cousin Lucia near Long lake Indian peaks CO)

Pay attention to how you are nourishing yourself through food. Make good food choices. When you eat, focus on eating and don’t try to multitask. Chew your food slowly. Spend extra time cooking your meals. Learn some new recipes. Share meals with people you love.

Cultivate a sense of belonging and connection to your roots. This comes from your tribe (family and friends), and also from a connection to a place – your home, town, and landscape.

Develop your ability to focus, to study and concentrate. However do that in balance! Extended hours/days/years of study actually weaken the earth element.

Establish good daily routines, do the same thing the same way again and again. Adults and Children both thrive when there is a predictable element to daily life. This includes times of sleeping and waking, how you get ready for the day, the activities of most days, the timing of your meals and how you settle down for rest.

Maintain healthy boundaries around activities and people. Distance yourself from people who are abusive, give less to people who do not give back, know how much time to spend with someone who is difficult. If you are indulging in activities that are not healthy for you, bring that into balance. Watch less TV if you are spending too many hours each day, drink less alcohol if you indulge too much, if you eat too much or too little address that. You get the idea.

The Late summer is Associated with the Spleen and Stomach

The Spleen in Chinese medicine (unlike the other organs) does not directly correlate with the physical organ as we know it in western medicine. In Chinese medicine It is the organ primarily dealing with “transformation and transportation” or digestion – it governs the extraction and distribution of nutrients from food and water to create qi (energy) and blood. The spleen is said to be the source of qi and the organ where we store qi, therefore it has a big impact on our energy levels. It is said to control upright (or lifting) qi and therefore is related to various kinds of organ prolapses. It is said to govern muscles and relates to muscle strength. It holds blood in the vessels so is involved in bleeding disorders. It opens into the mouth, manifests in the lips, and controls saliva. It houses the intellect, and relates to concentrating, studying and memorizing. Thinking too much (often about the past), brooding, obsessive thinking and worry tend to injure the spleen. The spleen is also weakened by dampness. The time of day associated with the spleen is 9am-11am.

Health problems associated with the Spleen:
Digestive problems, diarrhea, poor appetite, abdominal distension, nausea and vomiting, malnutrition, lassitude and lethargy, edema, weak/atrophied muscles, dislike of speaking, shortness of breath, chilliness, cold limbs, excessive bleeding (bruises under the skin, excessive menstrual flow, uterine bleeding, bloody stools), organ prolapse (such as uterus, bladder, pelvic organs) hemorrhoids, white vaginal discharge, frequent and urgent urination, heaviness of the head and body.

The stomach receives food and begins the process of digestions with stomach acids. It passes the food along to the small intestine. Thus is it said to control receiving (of food), and it the prepares the food for the spleen to extract the essence from the food. In Chinese medicine it controls the descending of energy. It is said to easily be harmed by fire agitating the mind causing manic behavior, isolation, uncontrolled talking, violent behavior, mental confusion, severe anxiety, hyperactivity and hypomania. the time of day associated with the stomach is 7am-9am.

Health problems associated with the Stomach:
Distension fullness and pain (could be stabbing pain) in the epigastrium and abdomen, vomiting, belching, hiccups, anorexia, insomnia, foul breath, thirst, voracious appetite, easily hungry, or hunger with no desire to eat, swelling and pain or ulceration and bleeding of the gums, constipation, mucus or blood in stools, mental derangement,

If you or a loved one or acquaintance are experiencing any of these health conditions, now would be an ideal time to be proactive in addressing them. Chinese medicine can help. Feel free to pass this newsletter on to them. I appreciate referrals.

Research Highlights

Chinese herbal medicine for IBS
Standard and individualized herbal treatments help alleviate IBS symptoms. Individualized treatment lead to more long term benefits.

Acupuncture for IBS
In six randomized controlled trials acupuncture significantly helped control IBS symptoms.

Acupuncture for Nausea and Vomiting More
then 40 randomized controlled trials show that post-operative, chemotherapy, and pregnancy induced nausea and vomiting is attenuated by acupuncture.

Acupuncture for Anorexia
Acupuncture reduced eating concerns, and helped participants feel more calm.

Feel free to send this email on to anyone you think may enjoy reading it. Wishing you all a grounded end of your summer.

Johanna Granger
Acupuncturist and Herbalist