Elemental Flow-Chart, photo credit to Paige Hill, CH
Have you heard of the Earth season before? What about the Earth Element? No, you haven’t? Well neither did I, not until I started working for Prairie Star Botanicals and began my herbal education.
Prior to herbal education, I have heard about the different elements of nature (Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Ether), but I have never explored them to understand their meaning. Now, I have an association and appreciation with all of the different elements that govern not only the universe, but our bodies. My teachings are a blend of multiple traditional practices, but what has stuck with me most, is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Today, I have interviewed Paige Hill, Clinical Herbalist and owner of Oak Leaf Herbal, to discuss the Earth Element. Earth is what governs our Spleen and Stomach function, which also influences our lymphatic system, immune health, digestive health, nutrient assimilation, AND our family dynamics. The Earth element is often one of the more forgotten or abused organ systems, just like the Liver. Paige has helped to educate many of her clients on the importance of supporting Spleen/Stomach function and now, it’s time to share it with the world.
Time frame for Earth season
Late Summer, when hot temperatures start cooling, but the plants are not dying back (as would happen in Fall). When the day temperatures are warm and night temperatures are cool, the humidity starts to recede. Roughly, the Earth season is August through September, until the Fall Equinox.
Spleen and stomach function
Physically, the stomach is in charge of receiving food and breaking down (mainly) carbohydrates and various sugars. The emptying of the stomach sets the pace of the digestive system, how quickly foods move through the body. In Chinese Medicine, the “spleen” accounts for the functions of both the spleen and the pancreas. The digestive properties of the Chinese “spleen”, primarily come from the pancreas. Where the lymphatic properties of the “spleen” come more from the actual spleen. As a whole, the stomach, spleen, and pancreas are in charge of digestion – if they are weak, the digestion is weak and if they are strong, the digestion is strong. Through digestion, we absorb nutrients which equates to dampness in the body. It is the spleen’s job to distribute this dampness throughout the body, otherwise areas will become saturated with dampness.
Earth element qualities
Earth is about comfort; this is why so many of us find eating to be comforting during times of stress. The Earth element is also about our ability to give and receive nurturing. People with a strong Earth element, have a strong desire to nurture others. People with a weak Earth element, have a strong desire to be nurtured. Those of us with blocked Earth, reject nurturing.
Herbs, foods, and activities to support the Earth element
Massage – for moving the lymphatic system
Good food and quality food, foods that nurture the soul and body
For strengthening the Earth element, foods that are naturally sweet, especially those that come out of the Earth – e.g. Sweet potatoes, Beets, Sunchokes, etc.
Foods for excess or stagnant Earth – fasting and vegan-style diets, avoiding dairy, are helpful for regulating these Earth qualities
Good practices for Earth – eat on a schedule, digestion likes routine. Don’t be rushed or distracted while eating, giving your full attention to the meal. Do not eat or drink cold foods, the digestion is like a pot of soup, it likes to be kept warm so everything keeps moving regularly. Cold foods such ice water, ice cream, smoothies, etc. will create stagnation and slow down the digestive system. Minimize raw foods, everything should be gently cooked.
- Astragalus – for digestive weakness
- Prickly Pear – for stomach dryness
- Anise Hyssop – for gas and bloating
- Red Root – swollen spleen
- Cleavers – lymphatic congestion
- Ginger – for warming the digestion
- Gentian – bitter tonic for strengthening digestion
- Blessed Thistle – bitter tonic for improving nutrient assimilation
- And many more
If you have more questions or aren’t quite sure where to start/what herbs are fit for your constitution, reach out to Paige to schedule an appointment. Paige offers a wholistic approach for assessing and addressing out of balance bodily functions, as one of Prairie Star’s practicing clinical herbalists. Visit our Clinic page or contact her directly: firstname.lastname@example.org