Chinese Medicine can offer beautiful strategies and support during seasonal transitions

Many of us are naturally invigorated by the change from one season to another while others find seasonal shifts challenging. Chinese medicine offers beautiful strategies to support us during these transitions. Aligning with the changes around us in the way we live our lives may happen naturally to some extent but in this busy modern world, it’s so easy to lose connection with the natural environment. Drawing inward in winter and expanding out come spring is part of being thoughtful and intentional about seasonal shifts and can help us live more attuned lives in harmony with the elements.

Ancient Chinese believe that the seasons have a profound cyclical effect on human growth and well being. With cold winter climate the blood must be thicker and the body well nourished as weather grows colder but in the warm summer time we need less nourishment and eat more lightly. These ideas are similar to macrobiotic principles and food can be a wonderful way to start living more in balance with the seasons.

Late Summer

Late summer is a point of transition from yang to yin, or in other words, from expansion to starting to look more inward. Food should be prepared simply with a minimum of seasonings and mild taste. During this time it’s good to eat earth foods like corn, yams, sweet potatoes, rice, carrots, squash.


In autumn we are preparing for winter and preparing to go deep. Nature contracts and moves its essence inward and downward. To attune to autumn we eat more astringent or sour foods (sauerkraut, pickles, olives, vinegar, lemons) as well as heartier flavors and foods. Cooking methods should involve more focused preparation to supply the greater energy required by a cooler season. Concentrated foods and roots thicken the blood for cooler weather. Cook with less water and at lower heat for longer periods of time. The bitter and salty flavors should be gradually introduced as fall progresses into winter as they move energy inward and downward. To combat dryness foods like pear, persimmon, loquat, almond, pine nut, honey, eggs and dairy products can be helpful and using a little salt in cooking also moistens dryness. Tread carefully with too much bitter, spicy or warming foods as these can be overly drying.


To unify with winter, support yin to become more receptive, introspective and storageoriented. Yin energy is very quiet, reflective and meditative. This is time to rest, meditate and replenish. Eat warm hearty soups and stews, meats and roasted nuts and cook foods longer, at lower temp and with less water. Small amounts of salty and bitter food promote a sinking, centering quality which heightens the capacity for storage. Such foods cool the surface of the body and bring body heat deeper and lower, warming the body’s core; with a cooler surface one notices the cold less. You can also warm the interior with foods such as ginger, cloves and cinnamon.


Spring is time for renewal, cleansing, spring cleaning and cleansing the body of the fats and heavy foods of winter. Our diet should be the lightest of the year emphasizing foods that have the ascending and expansive qualities of spring like young plants, fresh greens and sprouts. It can be helpful to limit salt at this time because it has a sinking quality. This is a good time for raw and sprouted foods and very simple food prep, cooking food for a very short time at high temp (like a stir fry) and leaving food a little al dente.


Summer is a time of luxurious growth. To be in harmony in summer, awaken early and reach for the sun for nourishment as the gardens do. Enjoy the bounty and variety and cook lightly, adding a little spicy flavor and more water. Avoid heavy foods and as in spring cook with high heat for a short time and use little salt. Avoid iced drinks and ice cream; instead, cool down with chrysanthemum or mint tea and foods like watermelon and cucumber.

In conclusion

Seasonal attunement can offer us a way to live in harmony with our natural environment and connect with something that many are out of touch with in our digital world. This way of living and thinking can connect us with the lineage of tens of thousands of years of mankind, to whom the change of seasons represented life itself.

Get in touch if you need help during seasonal changes. Contact me here ⇒