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Late Summer 2017

by Jennifer L Fockler

spleen and stomach season

Can you believe its September already? Summer has flown by and now kids are going back to school and you can start to feel Autumn on the horizon.

This time of year is known as late summer, its element is earth and its color is yellow. The major organs associated with this season are the spleen and stomach. That’s the all important digestive engine that is the first stop for so many metabolic functions, like making blood, energy levels, clarity of thought, phlegm, and obviously effecting things later down the line like your bowel movements.

Late summer is also the time of year associated with dampness, which is a kind of Chinese medical term that can get confusing. I always think of a moldy bathroom, especially because mold allergies kick up this time of year. The air gets thick and things feel heavy, it will also smell funky if there is mold and mildew. If you took a really hot shower, it will be considered damp heat. If you are in a cold and leaking basement, that’s cold-damp. So, if you can picture those two environments, then you can get a general idea of what this could do in the body.

Allergies have really been hitting our area hard lately, that’s damp stuck in the wrong place, like your sinuses or throat. A good way to treat some of these symptoms is by heating up your digestion with things like ginger and cinnamon, avoiding dairy and cold or raw foods. This will help your spleen not produce damp, which can turn into phlegm. It will also keep your energy levels higher and keep your thoughts clearer as well.

Fluids and staying hydrated are so important to moving the damp. Picture a swamp with standing water and soggy soil, this happens because nothing is moving. A lot of times if you increase your water intake, you create movement and can flush out the stagnant water. But sometimes the water can get stuck in a specific area of the body, like edema in the ankles or a bad phlegm cough. In these situations, herbs are a crucial part of treatment. They really help the body cycle through fluids and break up phlegm to pull it out and can get very precise with the area they are targeting.

I personally, have a hard time staying hydrated and find electrolyte drinks to be super helpful. I like coconut water or smart water and I even put a few drops of salt water in my filtered water if I'm feeling really off. Some people like sipping on hot water or herbal teas all day. You have to find what works for you. And yes, you will be peeing more, there’s no way around it.

The Spleen and stomach are also the first stop for blood production. We all know blood is pretty important. If you are low on blood and fluids, you can feel weak, dizzy when you stand up, have tight muscles and cramping in the calves, muscle spasms, twitching eyelids, headaches, cold hands and feet, fuzzy thinking, trouble falling asleep, plus more!

For women especially, blood is so important, because we lose blood every month and the nature of pregnancy takes a toll on our resources. The spleen in Chinese medicine makes blood, controls blood and is susceptible to damp, in addition, the spleen is one of the first organs to get taxed by our busy and stressful lifestyles. You can see how important the Earth system of the Spleen and Stomach are, and how a little nurturing can go a long way, especially at this time of year.

Some easy ways to help your Earth organs at home is to eat simple balanced meals, really going for that Goldilocks zone of not too much or too little, not too spicy or fatty, lots of veggies and grains, with small amounts of meat and spice.

If you are trying to build blood add goji berries to everything. Eat red and purple fruits and veggies like raspberries, blueberries, and eggplants.

If you have weak digestion like acid reflux, ulcers, or other sensitivities then stay away from your trigger foods (obviously) and add pumpkin and rice into your routine. This will even work on your pet dog and cats. I also like to add probiotics and enzymes, and if you are really having a hard time try an Aloe Vera drink.

Some of you may know that I have the start of an ulcer under my esophageal sphincter that can be super painful and refer into my left shoulder. It gave me a good scare enough times that I ended up in the ER and eventually got an endoscope. Long story short, I understand how crucial the Spleen and Stomach are to our well -being on a whole other level.

This is a huge area in Chinese medicine, in fact there is a whole school of thought that “goes through the Earth” with its own text called the Pi Wei Lun. I personally find the Chinese Medical approach to be much more nuanced and detailed, and definitely less invasive. It also alleviates symptoms with out sacrificing long term health and with little side effects, but it takes work. You have to be committed and make changes.

This time of year is the perfect time to nourish your spleen and stomach for so many reasons.  If you can relate to any of the things mentioned above, come in for a treatment. We can get you feeling better with acupuncture and herbs in no time and get your body prepped for the cold and flu season. Click here to make an appointment.