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Living the five seasons of Chinese medicine for natural wellness

Chinese medicine teaches that each season offers a unique rhythm and energy, which can help us tune in with what our minds and bodies need throughout the year. In Chinese medicine theory, there are five seasons! We’ll take you through them in just a sec.

Our philosophy here at Livskraft is inspired by the Chinese medicine approach to wellness. We love to work with the environment, using natural ingredients to create products for all skin types during hot and dry seasons. We even published cookbooks for nourishing treats and desserts to encourage organic nurturing for your body and mind.

So, what are the five seasons in Chinese medicine and how can you best live your life to work with them?

Summer in Chinese medicine

In Chinese medicine practises, summer is split into two seasons: “early summer” and “late summer”.

Early summer

Element: Fire.

Fire in Chinese medicine is symbolic of heat and maximum activity. The heart, mind and spirit are ruled by fire, so early summer is a great season to stay physically active & socially and mentally engaged.

You can read more about the connection of early summer to fire and abundance in our previous journal entry.

Organs: Heart and small intestine.

Heart health and blood flow are linked to fire and heat in Chinese medicine, and early summer is symbolic of outward and upward energy, like the flow of blood or an outpouring of love.

Affirmation: “I will live for my fire and do what makes me feel alive.”

Diet: Chinese medicine recommends cooling and raw foods in this hot season, as well as foods that support digestion, such as:

  • Pungent flavours
  • Plenty of fluids
  • Fish and seafood
  • Salads
  • Seasonal fruits and vegetables
  • Avoiding grease and sugar

Focus of early summer in Chinese medicine: Early summer is the time to tend to your fire and engage with your passions.

It’s the season to wake up earlier and go to sleep later, so you can enjoy long and hot days. If you rest around 1 pm, you’ll support your small intestine to digest the day so far.

Attitude: Extend yourself during early summer; push your energy upward and outward and connect with others. Engage with what you love and stay active.

Late summer

Element: Earth.

Earth in Chinese medicine is rooted in grounding, nurturing and reflection.

You can learn more about the relationship of late summer to transformation in Chinese medicine in our previous journal entry.

Organ: Spleen and stomach.

In Chinese medicine, the spleen houses our thoughts and mental capacity. You may have heard of the stomach and gut referred to as your “second brain”. Late summer is the season of intellect and thinking.

Diet: Start to tone down the cooling foods from early summer and add more warming foods. Pay attention to what is in harvest now, and don’t skip breakfast. Naturally sweet foods are good in moderation now, too, such as:

  • Yams
  • Carrots
  • Root vegetables
  • Fruits

Affirmation: “I am grounded within my true self.”

Focus of late summer in Chinese medicine: In this seasonal time of harvest it is time for you to mentally and emotionally take stock after pushing your energy outward in early summer.

Late summer is the transitional fifth season, between an energetic early summer and the next season of autumn, which focuses on letting go and preparing to turn inward in the winter.

Attitude: Late summer is your time to find your stability. Your fire pushed you through early summer with passion, and now you can let earth ground you into yourself as you go deeper inward throughout the year.

The season of autumn in Chinese medicine

Element: Metal.

Metal in Chinese medicine can be associated with self-protection – picture armouring yourself against those things you don’t need and softening yourself to habits, places and people that nourish you.

You can read more about the autumn element metal and the emotion of grief in our previous journal entry.

Organs: Lungs and large intestine.

These organs in Chinese medicine relate to letting go. Breathe out what you don’t need and listen to your gut.

Affirmation: “I will release that which does not serve me.”

Diet: Autumn is a time to introduce more warming and moistening foods. Chinese medicine suggests that in autumn, your diet includes:

  • Pungent vegetables
  • Fermented vegetables
  • Moistening foods like mushrooms and cabbage
  • Warming foods like soups, roasts and stews

Focus of Autumn in Chinese medicine: Turning inwards, nourishing our self-worth, seeking warmth, letting go of negativity

Attitude: During autumn, you are releasing that which you don’t need and nourishing that which will get you through the approaching winter.

This season is a good time to protect your boundaries and set limits; turn your energy inwards and focus on breathing deeply into your true self. Chinese medicine suggests that in autumn, you sleep a little longer and tune in with your self-worth, searching for validation from within rather than from outside.

Permit yourself self care rituals that focus on nourishing, hydrating and protecting. Chinese medicine recommends scarves, as you lose a lot of heat through the neck. Scarves also help warm and moisten the air before it reaches your nostrils and sinuses, which are considered part of the lung system in Chinese medicine.

The season of winter in Chinese medicine

Element: Water.

Water in Chinese medicine is often called “the philosopher” and symbolises stillness as long as you are balanced. When you are out of balance in winter, you may feel overwhelmed or disrupted.

You can read more about the winter element of water and the emotion of fear in our previous journal entry.

Organs: Kidneys and bladder.

In Chinese medicine, the kidneys store your life force energy “jing” and helps keep yin and yang forces balanced, so it is important to stay hydrated and let the water element keep the energy flowing through this organ.

Affirmation: “I will allow myself this time of restoration and reflection.”

Diet: Chinese medicine encourages plenty of warming foods in winter, including:

  • Bone broths
  • Soups
  • Goji berries
  • Walnuts
  • Seaweed

Focus of winter in Chinese medicine: Of all the seasons in Chinese medicine, winter is the most yin or inward energy. It is a time for meditation, journalling and conserving energy.

Attitude: Winter is your season for respite. Allow yourself to live by the boundaries you set in autumn, and prioritise restoring your inner balance and energy.

The season of spring in Chinese medicine

Element: Wood.

Wood in Chinese medicine symbolises growth and pushing through. It is an active element, making spring a very active season. It also represents the emotion of anger. We can learn the importance of flexibility and progress from the element of wood.

You can read more about the spring wood element and the emotion of anger in our previous journal entry.

Organs: Liver and gallbladder.

The liver and gallbladder play a crucial role in cleaning your body of toxins, and by caring for these organs, we can help rid our life of negativity and support our energy.

The liver also controls your tendons and is deeply connected with the health of your eyes, so spring is a great time to stretch a lot and do eye exercises.

Affirmation: “I am capable of growth and change.”

Diet: The Chinese medicine diet for spring is “eat green, taste sour”. This means eating:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Grapefruit
  • Young, leafy greens
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Green tea

Focus of spring in Chinese medicine: After conserving your energy in winter, spring is your time to begin expanding energy outward again. It’s a yang season, so it is a great season to be physically and mentally active, starting new projects or finishing old ones.

Attitude: During spring, you can begin to cultivate a future in which you’ll thrive. This is the time to bloom, grow, be creative and follow through.

Supporting natural self care

Isn’t this Chinese medicine philosophy beautiful? We love the traditional approach to wellness through eating right and supporting your well-being with mindful respect of the seasons. Whichever season you’re in, we wish you fulfilment and wellness from the rhythm it offers. 

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