The Fifth Season.

Home » Uncategorized » The Fifth Season.

Chinese medicine is based on the principles of nature. These principles are understood through what is known as 5 Element Theory. In this system, all of the body’s functions, structures, and fluids correlate to elements in the natural world. And it all happens in 5’s. Typically we are used to thinking in terms of four elements and four seasons but in this ancient eastern philosophy, there are five elements, directions, flavors, medicinal actions, natural processes, pathological tendencies, and yes, five seasons.

The five elements are wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. We are currently in (and soon to head out of) the phase of the year that relates to the earth element. So what is the 5th season? 


It’s known as Late Summer and we are in the tail of it right now.  While it’s still hot out, the days are shortening and the intensity of the sun is palpably shifting. The fire of summer’s peak has begun to recede but we’re not yet in the brilliant glory of fall.

In the natural world, Late Summer is a time of transformation. In the garden, it’s ripening season– that window of time where the fruits are developed but still changing internally and transforming toward readiness. The green tomatoes and rose hips are blushing toward red, the apples and pears look ready but still taste starchy or sour. Their sweetness is still in the process of developing. 

Late Summer is associated with the process of transformation in your body as well as in your garden.  It relates to your digestion– the process of converting the goodness from your food into bio-available nutrients that can nourish and strengthen the cells of your body. A healthy digestive system is a foundation that enables us to feel vital, balanced, and able to efficiently restore our energy level. The two organs associated with Late Summer are the main digestive organs in Chinese medicine– the spleen and stomach. Your spleen is the source for building your energy up. In addition to digestive issues and fatigue, spleen-depletion can also trigger excess worry and anxiety.  If you suffer from fatigue, loose stools, gas, bloating, tiredness after meals, anxiety, or cravings, your digestion is likely compromised and you stand to benefit from additional digestive support.  Acupuncture, herbs, and nutrition (aka eating delicious food!) can nourish the spleen and stomach, transform low energy, and relieve digestive issues. Of course we can improve our digestive health any time of the year  but Late Summer is prime season for digestive healing because it’s the time when that process is especially supported by the momentum of the natural world. Endeavoring to improve our digestive health during this season is like riding the tide versus paddling against the current. 

Tune in next time for the practical and delicious part — foods that support and strengthen your digestive system!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Susan Wilmoth Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Portland




, LAc, MAcOM
Susan Wilmoth Acupuncture
(formally Seeds of Health, PC)

5525 E. Burnside
Portland, OR 97215


Recent Posts

Susan Wilmoth, Seeds of Health PC
Photography Credits: Jeff Amram Photography and Kelly Nordahl