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By Dr. Allan Fradsham

  • Seasons

Well we all know that there are four seasons. In Calgary you can get all four in a 24 hour period. Most of us have a favourite season and often it’s not winter...

Chinese Medicine looks at the seasons not only in terms of how it feels when you walk out the door, but also how the season affects mood, organ health, digestion, immune system and metabolism to name a few.

Put simply, we can see that the natural cycles of the universe will affect us. Let’s take the easy example of the cycle of day and night. During the day we are active and awake and at night we naturally want to rest and sleep. You will notice that the amount you want to sleep changes with the season as well, during the long summer days you sleep less and the long winter nights you tend to sleep more.    

When we look at the seasons as a whole we can see that they are a cycle of opposites, summer is culmination of growth and heat and the winter is the deepest aspect of decline and hibernation and cold. Spring is the start of growth and rain, and the fall is the start of recession of growth and dryness. 

These external influences of the seasons play a role in how our body is working and what challenges it will face. Our ability to acclimatize to our surroundings is a testament to our bodies ability to adapt but the fact that we need to adjust is a testament to the season's ability to influence us.

So what are these influences exactly? Glad you asked!

Summer is a great time when we are full of energy and vigour right? That's because it is the fullest time of the yang influence during the year. The days are the longest and the temperature reflects the strength of the abundant Yang energy available. 

Winter holds true for the opposite of the summer. It is the most Yin and restorative time of the year. All of nature pulls its energy inward and slows down...who hasn't noticed their metabolism get slower in the winter and gain a few pounds. Think about animals - they all change their coats for the winter. We are an animal...a special animal, but biologically not that different. Likewise, if you take a trip to somewhere hotter during the winter when more yang qi is available, your metabolism boosts up and you have more energy.

What Chinese Medicine has recognized is that we need to balance our bodies with the changing of the seasons. Nature helps with this issue in a number of ways. One of the strongest being the food that is available during the seasons. The green shoots and sprouts that are coming in the spring are ideal for cleansing the Liver after a long winter.  The most food that nourish the Yin like cucumbers and tomatoes are available in the heat of the summer, and the root veggies like pumpkin, squash and yams that can nourish and warm the body during the cold months are ready in the fall and can be stored through winter.

As you can see, the natural cycles of the seasons and how they influence the body go beyond just feeling hot or cold.  TCM is very good at helping with this balance and transition.  If you feel like you haven't been able to adjust to the season the way you would like or if your immune system needs some work during the Fall or Winter, you should book online or call us for some acupuncture and herbal therapy.