Energetically, August 7th was the start of fall. If you’ve been reading my musings for a while, you know that in Chinese medicine we follow the Chinese energetic calendar, which follows the movements of the energy and seasons in nature, rather than the “made up” calendar. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can read more about the concept here. It’s an easy read and fascinating stuff.) Today we talk about how to stay healthy during late summer and early fall.
In fall, the weather tends to be more dry. That’s when we get the hot, dry Santa Ana winds in Southern California. But August tends to be more humid, and falls into what we call “late summer” in Chinese Medicine. Because the Earth energy this year brings extra humidity and dampness, we’re experiencing the effects now. A lot of patients, in fact almost everybody is complaining of being sluggish and lethargic these days. When the weather is hot and humid, everything slows down. You don’t want to move fast or get sweaty. It’s easier to just sit around, not do anything, and stay cool. Think about tropical areas that normally have this kind of weather, and they tend to have a relaxed, slow-moving pace of life. That’s the normal energy of hot and humid weather.
If you’ve been feeling lethargic, and you’re eating and sleeping well, it’s just the weather. Go with the flow of energy and take the time to maintain a more relaxed pace of life right now. It’s good practice, anyway, because most of us do way too much, and get our lives out of balance. It’s a great time to slow down, which is what we should do in fall to prepare for the more restful energy of winter.
The hot humid weather can also lead to too much dampness and heat in the body. This often shows up this time of year as a stomach bug with nausea and diarrhea. Watch out for food poisoning, because it fits that pattern, and make sure you don’t eat food that’s been sitting out too long. If you do get sick, an acupuncture treatment and some herbs can usually knock it out fast.
Avoid eating too much damp food, like greasy, fried foods and dairy. (I don’t mean eggs. Eggs are great and fine to eat all year.) Avoid foods made from milk, like milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream. If you’ve been eating ice cream during the summer, it’s time to reduce it. Too much dampness in humid weather can cause digestive problems and mucus.
It’s also time to start shifting your diet from lots of salads and raw foods to more cooked foods. I know it’s still hot, and a lot of people don’t want to cook and heat up the house. You can use a crock pot or pressure cooker to make cooked meals easily without heating up the house like using the stove or oven. It may not sound good to eat more cooked food now, but it will make your body happy and feel good.
Because it’s the end of August, we’re getting close to the weather changes that we usually get by mid-September. Normally, in September, the weather gets dry and the nights get cooler (hallelujah!). Kids are back in school, and that’s when colds start going around. September is probably the best month of the year to get a tune-up acupuncture treatment. (January is the second best month.) Even if you feel good, getting a tune-up helps balance your energy and prepare it for the changing energy of fall.
If you get a cold every fall (like I used to), pay attention to how you feel, and take extra good care of yourself, especially when the weather changes.
By following the energy of the seasons, we can help our bodies stay in balance and stay healthy.