Late Summer: A mini-season with big impact

Chinese medicine and Chinese philosophy tells us with Five Element Theory that there are actually 5 main seasons (vs our traditional 4), and ‘Late Summer’ is one of them. The Late summer season starts the 3rd week of August and goes until the Autumn Equinox, around the 3rd week of September. Chinese medicine illustrates for us that the body and mind are linked to nature through the seasons, and we can harness that energy and power with our habits and intentions. At this time of year, we can perceive a subtle shift in the air as the air gets dryer and a bit more crisp. The days are still hot, but are also getting a little shorter in length, and the leaves start to turn. Summer is considered the ‘Most Yang’ type of year (hot, dry, active, light), and in Late summer we are moving out of that Yang and starting to move toward the Yin (cool, moist, restful, dark) of fall and winter.

Late Summer reflects the Earth element, which rules the Digestive organs (Stomach and Spleen systems), and is considered our energetic “center”. Think of Earth as the Nourishment. The Earth element is also associated with the color Yellow, the taste of Sweetness, the senses of the Mouth, the body tissues of the Muscles, the emotion of Pensiveness / Overthinking, and the sound of Singing. Each element has these categories, and when we consider and /or meditate on what these mean for us we can see how they correlate to our mind and bodies in the current season.

We are living Seasonally when we attempt to incorporate the different categories of each season’s element. Here are a few examples.

Support the Stomach and Spleen systems

If you are prone to digestive challenges, you may see an increase in late August / early September. If you have a strong digestive system, you might notice it working especially well during this time. To care for your own internal Earth element: the temperature of foods in Late Summer should be moderate, not too cold and not too hot. Think of lightly steaming, and easy quick soups. Raw foods are more for Summer months, and roasted foods are more for Fall and Winter. Seasoning in late summer should be mild, not too spicy or salty.

The color yellow

Eating yellowish orange foods during this time of year will be especially beneficial. Yellow squash, pumpkin, golden beets, carrots, yams, barley, oats, and the spices turmeric and ginger.

Sweet taste

In ancient times before refined sugar, the sweet taste associated with the Earth element was more about the slight sweetness of grains. Grains can support the Earth element, but in excess can actually make it more difficult for digestion to happen effectively. In this time of year especially, set intention for a balance of grains and listen to the gut. If it’s moving slowly it may have too much of the ‘sweetness’. We can apply the same philosophy to the more obvious sweet foods as well. Interestingly, when the Earth organs of Stomach and Spleen are not working optimally, they will crave sweetness more!

Pensiveness and Overthinking

If you are worrier, this time of year might find you especially struggling with ruminating thoughts. Incorporate any of your own tried and true nervous system calming techniques: meditation, breathing, being active, journaling, talking with friends. Just keep in mind that this time of year is especially challenging for overthinking situation, and it might not be the best time to make a big decision if you can avoid it.


If you enjoy singing, consider doing it with extra intent in Late summer to support your Earth element! If you find yourself singing to yourself more often, or even speaking your sentences in a sing-song type way (if you have ever done this, you know what I am referring to), it may be a sign that your Earth element is out of balance.

Acupuncture and herbs

Acupuncture is always a great way to let your body know that you’re ready to re-balance what has fallen out of sync. I love using Acupuncture for the Earth element organs, and mostly everyone can use at least a little boost in the area of digestion.

Herbal formulas can be tailored to each individual person, and are great for reinforcing your Acupuncture treatment, and keeping up your progress between appointments.

Let’s talk

Herbal formulas can be tailored to each individual person, and are great for reinforcing your Acupuncture treatment, and keeping up your progress between appointments.

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