Harvest Your Energy with Acupuncture

(August 2010)

In Chinese Medicine, the seasons of spring, summer, late summer, fall and winter are directly associated with the five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Late summer, the earth element, is the season of harvesting, nurturing and grounding. The season is short and lasts from around the third week of August until Fall Equinox, September 22, 2010. It is a time when a variety of nutritious foods are available and a general sense of abundance reminds us to store and prepare for the colder months ahead.


Most of the symptoms of late summer manifest as a result of too much damp in the body and are treatable through acupuncture, herbal medicine or nutritional changes. By focusing on the nourishing earth element, or the body's Qi (pronounced "chee"), acupuncture can help restore balance, drain damp and build Qi in the body to allow for proper digestion and storage for the upcoming fall and winter months. Quieting the spirit is another component to each treatment to encourage a grounded mental state.


Acupuncture needlesLate summer corresponds to the energetic organs of spleen and stomach, the color yellow and the emotional state of pensiveness. The Chinese energetic spleen/stomach system is much different than the anatomical spleen, which is mostly responsible for filtering out blood. This system is responsible for all digestive functions, including turning food into energy (Qi) that we use in everyday life. It has an intimate relationship with humidity and dampness, conditions we experience this time of year, and its function can easily become disrupted by such excessive moisture.


Symptoms of spleen/stomach dysfunction include excess water retention (edema), fatigue, muscle weakness, increased congestion, feelings of heaviness in the body, a foggy head and digestive issues such as bloating, gas, reduced appetite and diarrhea or loose stools. Chronic cases like IBS may be more difficult to control this time of year.


Emotionally, balanced earth energy allows for logical thinking, mental clarity and the ability to develop wisdom from life experiences. Being grounded in the earth element allows for confidence and self-assurance, which provides the impetus for reflecting on and making important life decisions. Imbalances during this time of year may create pensiveness and over-thinking, both which may lead to insomnia and a state of uneasiness.


Nutritionally, there are foods to help combat dampness and nourish Qi in late summer. At this time of year, foods should be warm and nourishing and may include sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, bamboo shoots, pears, bananas and radishes. Keep in mind soups and stews are kinder on your digestion than raw foods. They should be incorporated with warming and digestive herbs and spices such as fresh ginger, dried citrus peel (known as chen pi) and cardamom. Some tonic herbs to consider are ginseng, astragalus, lotus seed and dioscorea (Chinese wild yam).


This season is a great time to relax, take walks in nature and visit with family and friends.


Contributed by Michelle Goebel-Angel, L.Ac., MSOM, MBA


Call the Raby Institute at (312) 276-1212 or or email:
appointments@rabyinstitute.com and schedule a visit with Michelle Angel, L.Ac., MSOM, MBA, to begin your harvest today!

"Dr. Raby is extremely intelligent and experienced in integrative medicine. She is an exceptional, highly respected physician with access to critical resources."

- Raby Institute patient