Late Summer and Earth Element


These months of sunshine are extra special according to Chinese Medicine. We have the season of Summer, and also a fifth season known as Late Summer or Long Summer. According to Five Element theory, each season (Spring, Summer, Late Summer, Autumn, and Winter) is marked by changes in nature and has its own unique energetic dynamics. During the transitions between the seasons, traditional wisdom advises us to attune our body, mind, and spirit to be in harmony with nature. This keeps our health balanced and enables us to stay well throughout the year.

The short season of Late Summer spans about a month from around mid- or late-August to the Fall Equinox. During this time, there is a transition from yang to yin. The energy is shifting from warmth to coolness, from expansive growth to inward pull. This is the time when there are plenty of sweet fruits and vegetables in the garden that are ripe and ready to be harvested. 

Late Summer is associated with the Earth element, which corresponds to the Spleen and Stomach meridians. If you’re out of balance, you might have symptoms like nausea, gas, bloating, heartburn, digestive issues, loose stools, weight gain, allergies, yeast infections, chronic infections, muscle aches, heavy limbs, joint pain, lethargy, fatigue, worry, overthinking, poor concentration, loneliness, emptiness, being overprotective, or feeling stuck. It’s common to have physical symptoms along with emotional symptoms because in Chinese Medicine it’s all interconnected.

Here are ways to balance the Earth element during the season of Late Summer: 

  1. Eat warm and cooked foods. This helps to optimize digestion because cooked foods are easier to assimilate. Too many raw and cold foods weaken the digestive fire. So trade salads for sautéed veggies and warm meals. Adzuki beans, Chinese pearl barley, and lentils are delicious to make in soups and porridges.

  2. Limit the sweets and avoid foods that create dampness. That means a lot of the fun stuff like sugar, dairy, refined carbs, pastries, processed foods, and fried foods. Damp foods contribute to heaviness and phlegm in the body. Luckily, there are many naturally sweet foods that are beneficial to eat! Go to the farmer’s market and eat fresh seasonal produce, such as corn, squash, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, beets, parsnips, berries, apples, and figs.

  3. Be aware of your thought patterns and don’t worry. The Earth element is associated with intellect, but too much thinking can injure the Spleen meridian. This is a great time of year to start or recommit to your meditation practice to clear your mind. If you find yourself having obsessive and repetitive thoughts, try looking at things from a different perspective. Center yourself in the present moment. Trust in the process. Shift from scarcity thinking to abundance mindset.

  4. Nourish yourself with what you need to feel grounded, supported, and fulfilled. Make it a priority to care for yourself, so that you can then give to others from a resourced place. Also be open to receiving support. Enjoy being in good company, laugh with with friends and family, connect with your community. Practice boundaries and compassion to create stability and harmony with others.

As the seasons change, it’s an ideal time to get acupuncture treatment to balance the body, treat any symptoms, and strengthen your system for preventive health and wellness.

Cheers to Late Summer sweetness, nourishment, and abundance!