How do the seasons affect our body?
Why do we feel tired during the winter? Why do we feel as if we are coming back to life in the spring, with a need for renewal, purification and regeneration? How do the different medical spheres incorporate seasonal changes into their therapeutic approach?
From a western medicine point of view
Western medicine rarely takes into account these notions that stem from conventional wisdom. At best, some will admit that certain disorders occur more frequently at specific times of the year:
- seasonal affective depression, characterized by cravings for sweets and the excessive need to sleep as the days become shorter,
- ear, nose and throat as well as respiratory infections during the fall and winter months: laryngitis, tracheitis, bronchitis, sinus infections, flu
- rheumatic pain during seasonal changes, e.g. fall and spring, as well as an increase in outbreaks of gastroenteritis
- respiratory tract allergies in the spring
From a homeopathic point of view
According to homoeopathic practitioners, seasonal aggravation and improvement are part of a patient’s characteristic symptoms, allowing for a more accurate choice of remedy.
For example, joint pain treated with Rhux Toxicodendron becomes worse in the fall, while that treated with Ledum palustre is exacerbated by heat.
From a Chinese medicine point of view
Traditional Chinese medicine takes seasonal changes into account much more so than other medical systems by describing 5 major annual cycles, each of which corresponds to a specific organ and season:
- The Wood element corresponds to the Liver and is associated with Spring.
- The Fire element corresponds to the Heart and is associated with Summer.
- The Metal element corresponds to the Lungs and is associated with Fall.
- The Water element corresponds to the Kidneys and is associated with Winter.
- The Earth element corresponds to the Spleen and the periods in between seasons.
Acupuncturists believe that an energy imbalance between the Five Elements can lead to allergies in the Spring, heart problems in the Summer, ear, nose and throat infections in the Fall and rheumatic pain in the Winter, etc. To stay healthy, it is therefore essential to respect the body’s natural biological rhythms:
- Spring is the season of birth and rebirth.
- Summer is the season of expansion and growth.
- Fall is the season of “cooling down”, characterized by harvests, changes in colours and a more subdued spirit.
- Winter is the season of retreat and introspection.
Living in harmony with the seasons also influences our choice of foods. Here, the word “seasoning” takes on its full meaning – harmonizing our diet with the seasonal cycle.
In light of this, Chinese doctors recommend that their patients eat food with predominant flavors, which vary based on the season and offer both preventive and curative action: acidic in the spring, bitter in the summer, sweet during the Indian summer period, spicy in the fall and savory in winter.
Chronobiology is a new science that may be able to bring the different disciplines together.
Biological rhythms allow our body to better adapt to the environment, hours of daylight, variations in temperature…
By observing animals in their natural habitats, we have seen that there are specific breeding seasons, hunting seasons and periods of hibernation.
In humans, social activity was rapidly organized in line with specific periods best adapted to rural life, hunting and gathering food.
Today, as our society has evolved, we are no longer in phase with nature or our own internal rhythms.
Living in harmony with the seasons
Without resorting to Chinese medicine, we can easily restore harmony between our body and the world around us.
Here are a few recommendations:
- Adapt your sleeping and waking patterns
- Adapt your diet, by eating seasonal fruit and vegetables
We will also discover how to best prevent seasonal disorders by combining nutritherapy and phytotherapy at each change of season.