Late Summer and the Spleen/Stomach
Late Summer is considered the "dog day afternoons" when in late August and "Indian Summer" are hotter and damper days rich in humidity and a feeling of heaviness in the air. This often parallels the way our bodies feel during this period.
Dampness is associated with the element earth and is most active in late summer. Ailments of excessive dampness can be induced by sudden exposure to fog or mist, immersion in water or exposure to rain, and living in excessively damp locations or climates. The surface pores on the body are open. Because summer is humid, the pathogenic factors, which cause diseases in this season always mix with dampness. The symptoms include excessive fluids in the body with symptoms of abdominal bloating, abdominal pains, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, intestinal spasms, diarrhea, lethargy, lack of thirst, feeling of heaviness, heaviness in the chest or being sluggish and stiff, aching or sore joints - are characteristically heavy and sluggish in nature and tend to block the flow of energy throughout the body.
Damp Heat is a condition of dampness and heat combined with symptoms of thick yellow secretions and phlegm such as jaundice, hepatitis, urinary problems, or eczema.
"Inner-dampness" is caused by excess cold consumption of liquor, tea, cold melons, and sweet, greasy foods. These impede spleen functions.
The Spleen and Stomach
In Chinese Medicine, the spleen and stomach are associated with Late Summer. They belong to the element of Earth. The stomach's function is to rot and rippen food and break it down for transportation. The spleen's functions: transform and transport foods and body fluids to make ready for absorption. The spleen raises our (Qi) energy up. The spleen controls the blood and keeps it in the vessels. The spleen also nourishes the muscles.
Signs and symptoms of poor spleen function include dizziness, pale complexion, low energy, prolapse of organs such as the rectum (hemmorhoids) and uterus. Spontaneous bleeding, muscle weakness and muscle atrophy can all be due to problems with the spleen.
Signs and symptoms of poor stomach function are numerous. Stomach heat manifests as too much heat in the stomach and is represented by bad breath, bleeding or swollen gums, burning sensation in the stomach, extreme thirst, frontal headaches and/or mouth ulcers.
The spleen transforms the ingested food and drink to extract the Qi. The function of transformation and transportation is crucial in the process of digestion and the formation of Qi and blood. If this function is impaired there may be a poor appetite, poor digestion, abdominal distention and loose stools. The spleen separates the usable part of fluids from the unusable. If this process is impaired there can be an accumulation of dampness, phlegm, and/or edema. The Spleens ability to transform and transport can be adversely affected by the excessive consumption of cold drinks and raw foods. The action of chewing prepares food for the Spleen to transform and transport. If Spleen-Qi is abnormal, there may be an impairment of the sense of taste or the presence of an abnormal taste , lack of appetite and the lips may be pale and dry. If the Spleen has heat a person may complain of a sweet taste in the mouth and have dry lips.
The stomach transforms food and drink by the process of fermentation. This prepares the ground for the Spleen to separate and extract the refined essence from food. After transformation in the Stomach the food is passed down to the Small Intestine for further separation and absorption.
The Stomach together with the spleen is responsible for transporting food essences to the whole body, especially the limbs. If Stomach Qi is strong a person will feel strong and full of energy. Stomach Qi also ensures that the Qi of the organs reaches the pulse. A pulse with good stomach Qi is said to be neither weak or strong with yin and yang harmonized and it has a regular, slow beat.
The stomach is responsible for the coating on the tongue. A thin white coating on the tongue indicates the Stomach is functioning properly. The absence of coating indicates that the stomach's function of digestion is impaired. A thick white coating reflects either cold or dampness and a thick yellow coating indicates heat.
Andrew Pacholyk, MS. L.Ac
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