Enhancing Digestive Energy
During late summer we experience a distinct shift in energy. The cooler nights, and the apples ripening on the trees, are clues to this subtle shift of the seasons taking place. These changes mark the time when the season of summer with its fiery energy begins to fade, as it invites the nurturing energy of early Fall to enter. And like all seasonal changes, the shift in the weather affects our bodies as well. In Chinese medicine the season between summer and fall (late August to the Fall equinox- September 21) is governed by the Earth element.
The term ‘element’ in Chinese medicine refers to the phases of energy which flow with the change of seasons and govern the health of the body. The Earth element energetically regulates our digestion and assimilation of our foods, it is related to the function of the spleen, pancreas, and the stomach. These organs help transform our food into usable energy, and extract nutrients to build our blood. In our body, like in nature, the Earth element is nurturing. The goal of this season is to return to your central core, to nourish, generate, and ripen your life force energy. Take more time to take care for yourself, nurture yourself, and focus on what is important for you to stay balanced and grounded. Nurture others as well, but without over-extending your energy as maintaining balance is very important.
The Earth element is responsible for transforming the food that we eat into the energy and blood that sustains our bodies. The balance of this element can be affected by inappropriate diet and processed foods; but is also strongly affected by the emotion of worry, dwelling on things, internalizing your feelings, or excessive concentration. All these things not only drain the mind’s energy, but they also lower the digestive energy in the body. You might have noticed this if you have been dwelling on something and then find you have no appetite or feel sick to your stomach. When the Earth element is in balance a person feels that they can stand in their own power and are empathetic and caring for the needs of others. They feel grounded, stable, and connected. When the Earth element is out of balance, the person has lowered self-confidence, and feels a loss of power. They tend to give too much of themselves and are unable to set limits. Being of service to others is a beautiful thing, but not when it’s taken to the extreme so that you feel drained, and resentful of the help you are giving.
In Chinese medicine, the Earth Element governs the body system called the Spleen. When referring to the Spleen in Chinese Medicine the word Spleen is capitalized as it refers to the function of the stomach, pancreas, and the actual spleen. The Spleen is responsible for the creation of the Qi (vital life force energy) that is required to sustain one’s daily energy, along with healthy blood production. If you have been feeling tired as the early Fall season arrived, and noticed digestive issues flaring up, then you may want to nourish your Spleen energy.
Other symptoms of an imbalance in the Earth (Spleen) energy are:
Easily bruised skin
Low energy [chronic fatigue]
Loose stools or constipation
Excessive over thinking or dwelling on things
Deep seated worries
Speaking in a low soft voice
Weak muscle tone
Weak immune system
Joint and muscle pain and stiffness
Weak digestion – food sensitivities
Low appetite, nausea, ulcers, or stomach pain
Poor protein digestion
Chinese Spleen Activator is a formula for strengthening the earth element by toning the Spleen energy. This formula strengthens your digestive fire so you can digest proteins better and assimilate more nutrients from your food. I love this formula; it makes me feel good. Spleen Activator could be a good choice for people who are run down due to periods of overwork or illness. This formula was created by Nature’s Sunshine and was formulated by a Chinese herbalist in the traditional method of combining herbs to enhance the vital energy in the body. Spleen Activator comes in a bottle of 100 capsules which is a traditional herbal blend, or the TCM formula which is a concentrate made under the traditional Chinese methods. Both formulas work well, the TCM generally allows you to take a lower dose.
While re-building your Spleen energy and your digestive function, you may find it helpful to take a digestive enzyme with your meals. Nature’s Sunshine’s Proactazyme (a plant-based enzyme) or Food Enzymes which includes hydrochloric acid, bile salts and pancreatin, are both good choices. Food Enzymes is a good choice for people over 50 who have weak digestion and focus on a meat-based diet. Proactazyme might is a good choice for those who focus on a plant-based diet and eat only minimal animal protein.
If you have been feeling burned out lately it may be helpful to add the herb Hawthorn to your program. Hawthorn Berries is a key herb to help rebalance the Fire element. The Fire element is most dominant in the Summer. If you have pushed yourself too much over the summer, then you may feel a sense of burn out as you move into the early Fall season. Emotionally, hawthorn helps a person to develop courage to overcome difficult or daunting tasks. Hawthorn helps to open the heart to giving and receiving love, and can help in healing heartache, it encourages self-love and self-acceptance. Hawthorn is a tonic for the nervous system and can be taken at bedtime to quiet the emotional heart to promote a more restful sleep.
Disclaimer: Supplement recommendations are not designed to treat a disease condition. Discussions are for educational purposes only. Supplements should be used to nourish and strengthen the natural function of the various body organs and systems so that they will have a greater capacity to heal themselves. It is not intended to replace your doctor's recommendations.
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