Seasonal advice according to Tibetan Medicine
Early and late Spring
Beginning of heat and humidity
The early spring season starts with the first month of the Tibetan year. On the western calendar it generally falls in the middle of February (sometimes it falls in March if the Tibetan year has thirteen months). It is the month of the Tibetan official New Year’s Day, which is celebrated by all Tibetans. At that time, earth begins to increase its heat and sun melts the glaciers. The same phenomenon also takes place in the body where the Phlegm, frozen during winter, begins to melt and produce humidity, which starts to make phlegmatic symptoms manifest in the body. Earth produces clouds and rains and diminishes the quality of the water that cools down and disturbs the digestive fire medrod (metabolism) in the body. Many phlegmatic disorders begin to manifest during these months therefore it is called «Phlegm manifestation season». The sun begins to spread out its rays, which controls then the superficial Phlegm. But the Phlegm humor still does not pacify because of its too humid nature. According to the external increasing heat, the internal temperature and climate becomes humid, one should then regulate the diet and behavior to keep the body/mind balanced.
The ideal nutrition and behavior
According to Tibetan medicine, one should check one’s own constitution and physical disorders. For the Phlegm and Phlegm/Wind constitutions people, phlegmatic disorders like digestion weakness, rheumatism, arthritis, obesity, different diabetes types, as well as depression, melancholy, sinusitis, allergies etc tend to manifest in this season.
During this season, one should eat food that possesses the three following tastes: bitter, hot and astringent. For example, bitter food such as Rucola and various bitter salad, hot food like ginger and other spicy food, and astringent food such as artichoke, etc. One may also drink some coffee.
In this season, meals should be based on light, dry and rough qualities like aged barley and barley flour, game meat, chicken, turkey, honey, cooked vegetables, cooked fruits, warm soups, and fishes. Vegetables should be well cooked and spiced with ginger, cinnamon, curcuma, curry, black cardamom, etc. During this season one should avoid the excessive consuming of sweet (natural and artificial) and salty foods and drinks.
A glass of well-boiled water every morning before breakfast helps clean the Phlegm. Ginger tea helps even better for cleaning Phlegm and reducing its disorders. It also improves the energy circulation and prevents from cold and flu. Hot boiled water with a spoonful of honey and fresh lemon juice helps reduce phlegm and rid off thirst. Light black tea is fine in this season but one should avoid or drink less milk tea.
Every day, one should make physical exercise, and remove the excess of Phlegm and fat with chick peas or beans powder massage.
One should stay in shadow and garden, and avoid the direct sunlight to reduce the accumulation of Phlegm and its symptoms, and to keep the body and humors balanced.
One should not stay in cold, foggy, damp, or humid places, and lack physical movement.
Hot and dry season
The late spring shows a very hot sun heat and the crushing down of the Phlegm energy. The quality of the weather becomes dry and light and similar to the wind humor, but hot. The strong heat of the sun deprives the body of its strength and the quality of the food and body. Therefore the Wind humor accumulates in this season if the diet is not appropriate but wind disorder does not manifest yet, due to the sun heat.
To prevent one’s body/mind from the aggressive sun heat and dryness, and the wind disorder accumulation, one should use a nutrition that possesses sweet, light and oily tastes and qualities. For instance, mutton, chicken, turkey with little oil and without deep frying. Rice, wheat products like noodles, bread, cookies, polenta, sweet fruits like apples, pears, banana, red grapes, mangos etc. Vegetables should be well cooked with spices like ginger, cinnamon, little garlic, nutmeg, and some curry. One should avoid food that has salty, pungent, and sour taste. One should also avoid strong physical work and exercise in sunny days.
Wine mixed with water helps cool down and control the wind humor. Some milk tea, light black or green tea, lemon tea, fresh water and fruit juices are advisable.
Such food and drinks help tolerate the seasonal influences.
One should take cold baths, stay in cool and fresh places with cool breezing and with cooling qualities perfumes, use thin cotton cloths, etc.
One should avoid staying too long under the sun, near the heater, taking long sunbaths, saunas, having heavy physical exercise, sleeping during day or under the sun, etc.
Summer and autumn
The spring season heats the earth and oceans, and a great deal of steam evaporates and rises to the sky to form clouds that make summer. The same phenomenon appears in the human body: The spring heat warms up or melts the body’s Phlegm and the blood and water then begin to circulate more actively throughout the whole body in the summer. The body cells and organs awaken from the long winter sleep and regain life.
Therefore summer season corresponds to the adult stage of life in relation to the human life season clock. In the summer, energy increases, flowers blossom and the world smiles.
This season produces two important phenomena in Asia and Europe.
In Asia: this season is hot and humid and the monsoon climate begins. There are heavy clouds in the sky, and the rains make the earth wet and humid. The cold wind and monsoon rains attack aggressively and increase the bad quality of rivers and springs waters. Consumption of these waters may produce the decline of medrod (metabolic forces), which could give a chance to some founding phlegm disorders to arise in the deep and profound level of the body, and to wind disorders to manifest. Therefore Tibetan medical literature describes summer as the wind manifestation season.
In Europe, summer is the hottest and driest season. The sun dries the earth up very powerfully and warms oceans. It is contrary to the Asian climate. There are few rains in Europe during these months. Due to the summer heat, people are used to drink cold drinks and wear thin cloths. Hot and cold drinks and lots of sweating reduce the body minerals quantity and push out the body medrod (metabolic force) everyday. People feel fresh although losing a lot of body energy, which becomes the cause of phlegmatic disorders such as obesity, blood circulation, arthrosis, arthritis and chronic bad digestion etc.
Either monsoon or dry climate, these two different aspects of the climate eventually show external heat, but bring internal cold that becomes the cause of indigestion and chronic phlegm disorders.
Two different kinds of nutrition could be followed during this season: In Asia, people should consume sweet, sour and salty food (bile balancing tastes) in order to keep medrod strong and sustain the loss of minerals due to sweating. The quality of the food should be light, warming, little oily, e.g. dry land grains, rice, chicken, sea food, dry fruits, cooked vegetables, etc. In Europe, it is a bit different; to compensate the loss of body energy and medrod decline due to the dry and hot season, one needs to consume, as counterbalancing diet and behavior, food and drinks with mild cooling and fresh qualities that reduce the external sun heat but protect the internal digestion. For example, one should consume cooked vegetables, salad, fresh fruits, rice, pasta like spaghetti, bread, a little bit of goat meat and beef. Dry fruits and olive oils are also good.
One should drink cool water or at room temperature, sparkling drinks, fruit juices, hot or warm boiled tea, and warm boiled water at breakfast. Generally one should drink enough water to sustain the body, and one may drink a little amount of light wine or alcohol from dry lands.
During this season, one should avoid an excessive consumption of alcohol, sweet and ice creams, and especially the cold drinks or food kept during a long time in the refrigerator or in the freezer. During this season, it is also better to avoid strong spicy food and glutamate, strong alcohol, milk and milky products, dry meat and sausages, overcooked or baked food.
One should avoid the excess of cold water from the refrigerator or drinks with much ice. Consuming too cold drinks when one feels hot is dangerous as it freezes the throat and stomach. It could lead to bad digestion, gastric problems, breathing difficulties, cold and flu, sinusitis, etc.
The excess of cold drinks and cold foods is not good in this season, even if the weather is hot. Taking them cool or at room temperature is safer and helps soothing the organs and body. People having a bile constitution and its tendency symptoms should not expose themselves too much to the sun, because the sun heat easily penetrates and burn them and make them get irritations, headaches, lowering blood pressure etc. One should avoid staying in the underground floor of the house because of humidity. It is better to stay in higher places of the house. The body temperature should be kept slightly warm by thin cloths like cotton. It is preferable not to use synthetic cloths too much if the temperature is too hot. In both east and west, the rainy and hot season makes decline medrod and strongly expels it out of the body therefore nutrition and behavior concern is to keep and sustain the digestion in order to have a healthy and strong immune system that prevents from the post-seasonal imbalances.
Consequences of a wrong nutrition and behavior during summer
The external heat joined with an unfavorable food and behavior could turn into powerful conditions or factors that increase the bile disorders, especially for people who have a bile or bile+wind constitution.
Autumn is the season where food and body qualities become oily and sharp. Not only the external conditions, food and beverages promote bile, but also the body nature becomes of bile quality and gains a hot and sharp energy. Even if the external summer heat strength begins to reduce, sunrays concentrate more like a laser to the earth. Therefore the quality of the seasonal energy becomes similar to bile and fever. In a prevention point of view, the danger of this season is to increase bile that might, if strongly accumulated during the summer by wrong diet and behavior, manifest bile pathologies such as bad digestion, gastric disorders, headaches, nauseas, etc.
As prevention measures, one should eat more sweet like fresh fruits, sugar, soft drinks, rice, bread, pasta (but not fatty sweets like milk and chocolates), bitter and astringent food (bile and wind balancing taste) for example chicory, ruccola, Belgian endives and astringent food such as banana, beans and lentils, artichokes, etc in order to balance the bile and wind humors.
During these months, one should take baths and use natural perfumes or essence oils produced from white sandal oils, camphor, Dendrobium nobile (Ushir) that are excellent to calm the bile. Sprinkling essence oils on cloths and in rooms may also help balance it. One should wear light cloths and stay in the cool breeze and shadow of a beautiful garden near a water fountain, river, or spring. The pleasant and harmonious atmosphere and the beauties of the autumn season enrich the quality of the nature energy that is assimilated by the body/mind and that rejuvenates the life and harmonizes the humors.
Early and late winter
Conflicting temperature season
The early winter season generally coincides with the beginning of cold weather. Especially the external coldness blocks the body pores and keeps the heat inside the body. It helps the heat concentrate inside the body and protect the heat loss. Therefore the heat increases the inner heat and the power of digestive fire is stimulated by the fire-like wind. The food is digested faster and the long winter nights endanger the body and organs constituents to be consumed by the digestive fire. Therefore one needs to neutralize the seasonal harmful effects by an appropriate diet and behavior in order to keep a healthy balance.
One should select the right food (sweet, sour and salty tastes) such as pear, apple, banana, sweet taste vegetables, cereals, wheat products, milk products (not too fat), porridge, and warm soup, and specially meat and bone soup. Generally the food should contain more proteins and animal products. The food mentionned above cools down the internal heat but without increasing the phlegm humor. If one does not eat enough of this kind of food, they should make mustard oil massages to compensate the consumption of the body constituents caused by the long nights.
Clothes should be warm and if possible made of animal skin. One should wear socks and warm shoes, gloves and a hat. The house should be well protected from cold and cold winds by insulation or a heating system, fire, sun or any other warming methods. From time to time, beside the external warming methods, one should apply warm fomentations on the back, abdomen and joints, as they help circulate the blood and energy flow deflected by the external cold temperature, and they also prevent possible seasonal joint pains.
Cold and humid season
The later winter is much colder and more humid than the early winder. The external coldness is also much more concentrated than before. The cold penetrates the body widely, and many body tissues become macro-iced. By the coldness and humidity, phlegm humor is accumulated during these two parts of the winter season. This period is called “accumulation stage of phlegm humor”. However Phlegm does not manifest because it begins to freeze like water in the winter and is going to melt only in spring.
Nutrition and behavior
Seasonal temperature and body heat
1. Spring season: earth and body warm up and melt the phlegm coldness, but the codness is still kept externally and internally.
2. Later spring and summer: the earth and body totally warm up, externally and internally and heat deeply penetrates the body.
3. Autumn season: the sun heat gradually decreases and the external heat reduces, but the internal heat is still high like fire under ash.
4. Winter season: the external cold reduces the external heat and gradually enters into the body. There is a cooling down effect of the heat externally and internally. Finally summer heat is completely cooled down and the macro-body parts and tissues freeze.
Natural healing and manifestation of diseases
This world and body variation of temperatures is a natural method of keeping the balance of energy, body tissue transformation and process of development and aging. Through temperature, seasons give the power of movement to the body and help circulate the energy flow, which keeps the body organs and tissues to be healthy. If the body and humors are well functioning, this process keeps them healthy without accumulation of disease, whilst if the body state is unhealthy, it produces blockages, manifests symptoms, and then expels the disease. It is a natural process of healing called “seasonal healing” process, the seasonal clock and rhythm which is very essential to every being living on this earth.