It happens twice a year, we set the clocks ahead one hour and then months later we set them back one hour. For many, springing ahead or falling behind is no big deal. However for some, waiting for the body to adjust to the change can be a challenging couple of weeks. During daylight savings time, it is not uncommon to experience fatigue, insomnia, sluggishness or generally feeling “off.” I am sure this all sounds very familiar to many people this week!

So why is this one hour so dramatic? A Chinese Medicine explanation is that the Earth element is imbalanced. To begin, according to Chinese Medicine there are five elements {known as the Five Phase Theory} that manifest within us; Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water. All elements embody their own qualities and characteristics. Also, each element relates to the energetic function of an organ {for the sake of this blog post know that the Earth element relates to the stomach and spleen energy}. When these five elements are balanced and thriving, the human body is healthy.

The Five Phase theory explains that the Earth element is the center of our being {just as the stomach is anatomically located in the center of the torso}. As the center, it is the Earth’s responsibility to energetically hold the other four elements intact. I like to think of the planet Earth in orbit, and the gravitational pull as the force keeping the other elements in check. If the element is weak and unable to maintain its pull on all other elements {and organs}, then shifting into a time change becomes difficult. Like any group task, when one isn’t doing their job, others become over-worked. When the Earth element is unable to do it’s job, the other elements become unbalanced, and the body can not shift gracefully into the time change. The body then becomes overworked and the typical daylight savings time signs and symptoms manifest.

For fun, adding one more layer to the Five Phase theory, note that each element also relates to a Season. Similar to daylight savings time, if the Earth element is too weak then pulling into a new season becomes difficult as well. Once this occurs, patients will likely suffer from seasonal illnesses like allergies and asthma. Interesting to note, if one season is worse than others then that is the imbalanced element; it is being overworked from the slacking Earth element! In addition to seasonal illness, it is also likely to be affected by the moon’s energy {full moons, eclipses, tides}, perhaps the menstrual cycle is irregular, or anxiety and depression manifest during different phases of the month. A weakened Earth element may also have trouble with altitude changes; easily sick when traveling, motion sickness, jet lag, vertigo, or asthma. When the Earth element is unstable all of these gravitational pulls and changes can cause an internal uproar.

When I see this type of pattern occurring in addition to acupuncture, moxa and Reiki therapy, I usually offer a couple of quick tips to help nourish the Earth element:

  • Apples
    As simple as it sounds I always recommend eating some apples or drinking apple juice during these transitional phases. Since apples have a core, I like to relate back to the element being the center {or core} of our bodies. Adding foods that have qualities of what the Earth element is lacking will help nourish the element back to health. So perhaps eating an apple a day will keep the doctor {or acupuncturist} away?
  • Probiotic

    Since the Earth element relates to the stomach and spleen organs, it is important for the gut health to be intact. Adding a daily probiotic is a very easy way to maintain gut health year round. Nourishing your digestive health daily will keep the Earth element functioning as it should. That way, once seasonal or gravitational changes do occur it will not be a total shock to the system.
  • Seasonal Foods

    Like the apples, it is important to eat foods that are made up of nutritional qualities your body craves. Whenever possible I always recommend eating seasonal foods. Your body is very smart and knows what nutrients it needs year round. Being proactive and eating seasonal foods will help to maintain homeostasis during all seasonal changes.
  • Rest & Hydration
    Your body is wanting rest so by all means rest up! I like to think of it as “you time.” The Earth element is very nurturing and “mothering.” Since it is in the Earth element’s nature to constantly take care of others, I always recommend reversing the role. Instead take time to nurture yourself. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you!