Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Treatment Tuesday: The Earth Element and Digestion

To the right is a picture of Raw Squash Soup, which is beneficial to the Earth element, and which we will be enjoying in our upcoming Raw Foods Demo and Dinner, September 24, at the Birch Center.

Late summer is officially here! In Chinese Medicine, late summer (and all changes in season) relates to the Earth element, which is about digestion, and is the center of our health. The colors of the Earth element are orange and yellow, which are also the color of many foods coming into season right now: squash, corn, peaches, pumpkins. These foods have a sweet flavor and in moderation are beneficial to the earth element.

In Chinese Medicine, having strong digestion is very important to overall health. No matter what people come in to see us for, we always get around to asking about digestion, because it tells us a lot of information about the state of overall health.

If this element is weak, we may see digestive systems such as gas, belching, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and IBS, but we will also see symptoms such as fatigue, bruising, muscles aches and heaviness. Mentally a person may just not have their "get up and go", and will rather nap or sit around the house. They may worry or obsess about things, and may even have insomnia, even though they are so tired during the day.

Acupuncture treatments can help support the Earth element and alleviate these symptoms. There are also wonderful Chinese herbal remedies such as Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang and Gui Pi Tang which help balance this element, and are chosen very specifically to match what is going on for each individual. For more information or to schedule an acupuncture appointment, calls The Birch Center at (412) 381-0116, or email BirchCenter@yahoo.com.

Here are some other ideas which you can do at home to help balance your Earth element:

  • Eat green foods, especially leafy greens, which are thought to have a bitter property and relate to the fire element, which is the "mother" of the earth element and thus helps strengthen it.

  • Though sweet is the flavor of Earth, avoid overly sweet and processed foods, which tend to weaken this element. Avoid foods with sugar, corn syrup and white flour.

  • Eat your heaviest foods in the morning, from 7 am to 11 am, when the energy in the Earth element (digestion) is strongest. Stop eating by 7 pm in the evening, when the energy in this element is the weakest. This is an incredibly important and powerful thing you can do to balance this element.

  • In Chinese Medicine, it is recommended to lightly steam your food for easier digestion. In following a raw foods diet - which is usually not recommended when the earth element is weak - I find that including a lot of green leafy vegetables and blending the food (green smoothies or energy soups), is actually an excellent way to boost this element.

  • Processed fruit juice (bottled from the store) is too sweet and not recommended. However, if you freshly juice fruits yourself, always cut with plenty of water and add some green juice: some spinach or Romaine leaves in to help balance the sweetness.

  • Get outside! This way your body can absorb the last of the warm sunshine and can really mesh with the season.

  • Moderate exercise (outdoors is best) will also help this element, as exercise keeps the energy of the whole body flowing. When energy becomes stagnant, this often causes the wood element in our body (responsible for the smooth flow of energy) to attack and weaken the earth element.

Our September newsletter is about to go out, and there is an article all about late summer, the Earth element and your health. Sign up here for our newsletter now, so you don't miss it! Also, there are still spaces available in our Raw Foods Demo and Dinner. To sign up please call us at (412) 381-0116.

Thanks, and enjoy this beautiful time of year!

In Health,
~ Melissa Sokulski, L.Ac.
The Birch Center for Health

1 comment:

Kristen's Raw said...

I really enjoyed reading this post! Thanks for the excellent information.

Cheers to green smoothies and fresh green juice :)

Have a super day,