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End of Summer Tummy Woes

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Digestive issues are up now for many people '" this is the time of year people often gain weight and can't lose it; some may have summer diarrhea or loose stools; or others may get more burping, belching and gas. This is the end of late summer period and, in fact, is actually the Spleen time of the Spleen time of year. (the last two weeks of each season is ruled by the Spleen and since we are at this time, it is now the Spleen time of the Spleen time of year!). This will last through approximately mid September and makes it a particularly challenging time for digestion and metabolism.

For those with diarrhea or loose stools, these symptoms often occur due to the excess hot temperatures outdoors at this time of year. The heat can lock the coldness inside the gut, which, of course, is compounded by iced drinks, ice cream, smoothies, and other cold drinks and foods people often crave and imbibe when it's hot outdoors. The result is feeling hot (external Heat), but having loose stools (Internal Coldness). One could even experience a fever or stomach flu symptoms.

One formula of choice for these conditions is the Chinese patent formula, Curing Pill (called Digestive Comfort by Planetary Formulas). It is based on several herbs that dry the cold damp in the interior with their warm, aromatic damp-dispelling properties, such as agastache (huo hsiang) and magnolia bark (hou po).

Digestive Comfort (fu ling, coix, white atractylodes, angelica, kudzu, magnolia bark, agastache, saussurea, leavened wheat, sprouted rice, trichosanthes, chrysanthemum, cyperus, gastrodia, mint): Removes food stagnation, harmonizes the Stomach, subdues rebellious Stomach Qi, transforms Dampness, subdues Yang, relieves pain; use for abdominal bloating, gas and cramps, belching, hiccups, nausea, abdominal distension and pain, hyperacidity, overeating, hangover, motion sickness, morning sickness, stomach flu and food poisoning.

The other symptoms of burping, belching and gas may be accompanied by nausea, stuffiness in the epigastrum and even extra weight carried in that area. While the above formulas are good for this, the best formula is Bao He Wan. Composed of several herbs that specifically address stuck food (like hawthorn berries, sprouted wheat berries and radish seeds), it assists digestion and gets things moving in even the worst cases when it feels like nothing can work.

Bao He Wan (hawthorn berries, pinellia, massa fermenta, Poria cocos, tangerine peel, forsythia, sprouted wheat and radish seeds): removes food stagnation, harmonizes the Stomach, relieves pain; use for abdominal distension, bloating and pain, a sense of fullness, possible poor appetite, belching, burping, foul breath, and constipation.

Many of us know this feeling after a big holiday meal '" that heavy, bloated, distended discomfort. Others get this more chronically from general over-eating.

For some, this sort of acute stuffiness can lead to heart palpitations (the Stomach affecting the Heart, or the Child aggravating the Mother, as it is described in traditional Chinese Five Element theory). If people aren't aware that stuck digestion is the issue, they may even head to the hospital thinking they're having a heart problem when really the issue is indigestion, or food stagnation (and there's no pain radiating down the left arm, sweating or breathing problems).

To prevent such issues form occurring now, eat more lightly and simply. Include a digestive aid with meals, such as ginger or fennel. Balance heating and cooling foods. Wait five hours between meals and if needed, take any of the above herbal formulas to aid digestion.

Happy end of summer!

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