By theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are 5 seasons correlating to the 5-elements. The elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water correspond respectively with the seasons of Spring, Summer, Late Summer, Autumn, and Winter.

What’s curious about that list is the concept of ‘Late Summer’. The Earth element corresponds further to ‘Dampness’ and to the Spleen Organ Energetic system that is essentially our digestive system. This year, we had a hands-on example of how the Fire energy of the Summer can affect our external environment. When the heat of summer combines with the early rains of the fall, the air becomes heavy and moist. We describe this as being ‘muggy’.

When our Spleen energy is weak and is not properly transforming the liquids we ingest, our internal environment takes on a similar ‘muggy’ texture. Pathogenic Dampness is created in the Spleen and then stored in the Lung as Phlegm. If this process is left to continue unabated through the Late Summer season, we enter the Metal/Lung season of the fall with a buildup of Damp-Phlegm. With this sticky, viscous substance in our Lung system, we become more prone to catching lingering coughs, colds, and flus, to developing allergies, asthma, and a worsening of other chronic lung conditions.

It is important to keep the Spleen Qi strong. Traditional Chinese Medicine offers a wide variety of acupuncture points and herbal formulas specifically designed for the individual’s internal environment to help prevent the accumulation of Dampness and Phlegm. With the advent of the new technology of probiotics, we are also provided with a new way to directly impact the ability of our Spleen/Pancreas Qi to transform Dampness and to remove it from the body.

Dietary considerations include moderating our intake of raw, cold, and greasy or fried foods. Too much of these types of foods will block up the Spleen’s ability to transform Dampness.

We’re on the cusp of the Lung/Metal season. The trick is to enter it with free flow, unimpeded by the presence of Dampness and Phlegm. The result will be a strong immune system, equipped to withstand the common back-to-school barrage of viruses and bacteria.

How free is your Qi?