Seasonal Tips

Living with awareness and sensitivity to the qualities of the different seasons is a time-honored approach to wellness and self-knowledge. In the west, perhaps mostly because of technology, we have become somewhat desensitized to the different gifts and challenges of each season. We can control the climate in our homes and workplaces and automobiles, so we barely notice the temperature, air quality, insect and animal behaviors, etc., as our ancestors once did. Nonetheless, the seasons have offerings that can serve us powerfully if we are attentive to them.


Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) divides the year into five seasons - fall, winter, spring, summer and late summer. Summer and late summer offers a special time of abundance. The natural growth of green and growing things surrounds everything; fresh foods are readily available nearly everywhere.


Spring bursts forth with its light, color and possibilities. It suggests a time for new growth, expansiveness, artistry and assertiveness. Coming out of the dark and cold of winter, we now turn towards our vision of how we hope to manifest our unique gifts in the world.

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Each season has representative organs. Spring relies on the health of the Liver and Gallbladder. Each performs work related to our clarity, vision, creativity, assertiveness, organizational ability and flexibility.  These qualities are enhanced through the clear use of resources, such as food, money, time and energy, in service to the quality of life we want to create for ourselves.  Where do we put our energy? What makes us happy? What expands and stretches us? What obstructs, frustrates, limits us, and what will we do about it?

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Summer is the energy of warmth, joy, relationship and maturity. It is the fire described in 5 element cosmology. What we planted in the early spring is now fully manifest, soon to be harvested. What we build is now serving us and others. Summer is a time of celebrations, weddings, the building of friendships and communities. If introverts are more comfortable with winter, extroverts exude the energy of summer.

The organs that are most reflective of the energy of summer deal with the circulation of blood and the regulation of fluids and temperature. The heart is at the center of all the organs, described as the sovereign ruler in service to the empire. So we can reflect on what is at the heart of who we are and what feeds our hearts and makes us and others happy. It is our passion, our purpose, our expression and experience of what is central to us in life. We are mostly fulfilled when we can share this, bring it to others and see our warmth reflected in the love of another. So summer is a time to pursue what we love and to show our gifts for others to enjoy. It is a time to be expansive, to make a joyful noise, to play and to love.


Late Summer

Late Summer

The harvest time is described as a fifth season. It occurs towards the end of summer when the ripeness and heaviness of humidity mix with a hint of the coming fall. It is a time to savor, to store, to give from the generosity abundance suggests. Sympathy is a word ascribed to this season, as we are asked to consider the needs of others when ours are met. We can also be sympathetic to ourselves and take time to savor and recover from the efforts of the previous season. The stomach and spleen are emphasized in this Earth energy. Those organs have to do with transformation and assimilation, as well as containment, clarity of thought and stability. In late summer, we have the last of the fresh summer produce available for one last time before leaving. It is a time of decrease — less intensity of light and heat, but also, turning towards fall and winter. If we store the harvest at this time, we’ll have something to see us through the darker colder months. You can see how this can be both literal and metaphorical. It is a time to slow down and to feel and express gratitude for the daily bread (any kind of nourishment) we have received. 


Largest Echinacea Trial Proves Prevention of Colds and Flu

Colds and flu are the most frequent illnesses experienced by the Western world. They lead to tremendous costs to public health and the economy, being the leading cause of absences from work and school. This is especially the case during the autumn and winter months when almost everyone suffers colds or flu a few times.

Immune resistanceechinacea-purpurea Despite decades of pharmaceutical research, scientists have not found a specific way to prevent the disease. The key reason for this is the enormous variety of viruses causing colds or flu - today, more than 200 different respiratory viruses are known and new viruses are discovered every year. An alternative approach to preventing colds is to build the body's immune resistance.

Prevention and reduction of painmedication Extracts made from the purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) are successfully used for this purpose. Recently, scientists in the United Kingdom performed the world's largest clinical study using Echinacea. The conclusions were clear - the use of a specific extract of Echinacea (Echinaforce®) was able to fight off recurrent cold episodes, reduce the days with colds and the need for synthetic pain-relievers containing paracetamol or ibuprofen commonly used to treat the symptoms of colds and flu.

Effective prevention for those susceptible to colds Stress, poor sleep, or smoking have a negative impact on the immune system and make people more susceptible to infections. Intriguingly, the strongest protection against colds and flu was seen in individuals with increased stress and/or recurrent infections. The negative impacts of stress or poor sleep appear to be compensated on the level of the immune system during long-term intake of Echinaforce®, resulting in a higher resistance to infections.

Safe for long-term use Another very important conclusion of this latest study is that even after using Echinaforce® for 4 months, no further adverse events occurred with Echinaforce® than with placebo and the tolerability was very good.

A strong immune resistance is a basic pre-requisite for the attainment of good health and performance. Extracts from the purple coneflower provide effective and safe immune support during periods of stress and throughout the whole winter season.



A Time of Reflection

As the gifts of summer are enjoyed and then stored literally and in our memories, we begin to turn towards winter, a time our ancestors generally knew as a challenge to health, resources and temperament. The autumn, with its clear air, vivid colors and light, reminds us of the beauty and the gifts the heavens have favored us with, while preparing us to let go of their manifest presence in our lives. The Chinese describe the autumn as a time where grief may predominate, as it is a time of letting go. It was said that “in the autumn, the heavens disappear in a single breath.” The shock and pain of grief can feel like the heavens have abandoned us, seemingly leaving us to bear what we must on our own. Perhaps in the absence of whatever we might describe as “the heavens,” we are called to a faith that they will return, as they always do, appearing in the infinite gifts of the spring. 

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Lungs and Large Intestine

The Chinese model for physiological function suggests that 2 organ systems are particularly relevant to the autumn: the Lungs and the Large Intestine. Both have much to do with what we take in and what we release. The lungs, of course, are often more susceptible to respiratory infection in the autumn, as the more invasive weather can penetrate our immune system. It is suggested that we strengthen ourselves at this time of year with warmer, cooked foods. The metaphor for the Large Intestine is letting go, pruning, eliminating that which no longer has value or nourishment for us. It is a good time for creating more space (breathing room, as it were), leaving only that which is essential and qualitatively valuable to us. In the Jewish tradition, for instance, the autumn brings Yom Kipur, a day of atonement (At-one-ment) where the errors and the losses of the previous year are reflected on and let go of, in order to realign and remind us of our essential selves and our purpose.

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