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Later Summer



Element Earth relates to the season "late summer", the color yellow, and the organ Spleen. In traditional Chinese medicine the Spleen is referred to as the collective work of some organs and systems participating in the digestion rather than the anatomical organ spleen. Thus the color yellow has a nurturing and tonifying effect on the digestive system, and the season "late summer" is the season when various foods with yellow color grow.


Yellow-orange foods have different effects on the Spleen (the digestive system). Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, figs all tonify the Qi of the Spleen enhancing the Spleen’s transformative function, thus enhancing the body’s tonus and energy. Apricots, pears and peaches have tonifying and overall cooling effect on the body. Corn dries dampness and harmonizes the center; melon clears summer-heat.(1)


When the dygestion is not working properly the transformative function of the Spleen is disturbed, leading to Qi deficiency and later water retention called "internal dampness". Symptoms include poor energy, poor apetite, sluggishness, gas, bloating, loose stool, etc. As "late summer" is the best season to attend to the Spleen it is the right time to tonify the Spleen and transform dampness if any. The Spleen likes warm and dry foods, and dislikes cold and moist (because they slow down the dygestion and lead to damp accumulation). Therefore during the "late summer" season it is appropriate to choose foods with neutral even with warm nature. Potatoes, carrots, corn, rice, peas, and squash are such foods. Fish and chicken are appropriate animal proteins for that season as they have neutral and warming nature and are relatively low on fat as fat should be avoided in the hot "late summer" months. Foods with cooler nature may be slightly cooked or baked to warm their temperature, for example baked apples and bananas. Honey is a great yellow food that tonifies the Spleen and dries dampness.


Foods should be prepared simply with minimum amount of spices to keep the work of the Spleen uncomplicated.(1) As the Spleen governs the muscles a good way to tonify the function of the Spleen, clear dampness, and gain energy, is to exercise.



(1) Pitchford, Paul (2002). Healing with Whole Foods. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books


Related Articles:

Spring (Element Wood)

Summer (Element Fire)

Late Summer (Element Earth)

Autumn (Element Metal)

Winter (Element Water)

The Six Climatic Factors and the Five Elements








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