The Blog of Minnesota Community Acupuncture

Lessons in Chinese Seasoning: Late Summer, Chinese Medicine’s Fifth Season

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028-1024x678We’re all quite familiar with the four seasons of Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter; but did you know that Traditional Chinese Medicine posits the existence of a fifth season?  That’s right, welcome to Late Summer. Late Summer begins around the third week of August and lasts until the fall equinox, September 22nd this year.  Late Summer corresponds to the Earth element, and is thus ruled by the Spleen and Stomach, two of the most important digestive organs in Chinese Medicine.  Food appropriate for Late Summer should not only nourish Spleen and Stomach, but also help guard against Dampness; a pathogenic factor in Chinese medicine notorious for housing itself in the Spleen and Stomach and disrupting digestion.  One fantastic example of such a food is buckwheat.

Despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat, as it is not a grass; instead, buckwheat is related to sorrel, knotweed, and rhubarb.  From a strict nutrition standpoint, buckwheat is a fantastic nutrient dense food.  Its protein content ranges between 11 and 15 percent, it contains eight varieties of amino acid indispensable to the human body, and it’s fairly high in B vitamins.  In Chinese medicine, the health properties of buckwheat were well known by the Ming Dynasty (around the 16th century).  The Bencao Gangmu, one of the most important books on herbal medicine in Chinese history, states, “buckwheat is of a quality of being bitter, smooth and chilly which can benefit a person’s strength, refresh one’s mind, sharpen one’s hearing and eyesight, reduce flatus, relax bowels and strengthen gastric functions.”  This statement clearly indicates buckwheat as being a superior food any time one is looking to fortify their digestive system.

With all this in mind, treat yourself to some delicious buckwheat blueberry pancakes this week!


3/4 cup buckwheat flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup nonfat milk
1 tablespoon honey
2 large eggs (if you’re feeling adventurous, you can use duck eggs which are especially good in late summer)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups blueberries, divided
1/2 cup real maple syrup


  1. In a large bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, beat together the buttermilk, non-fat milk, honey, eggs, and oil. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing only enough to combine them. Stir in 1 cup of berries.
  1. Preheat a large nonstick griddle or skillet over a medium flame. Ladle the batter onto the skillet with a 1/4-cup measure. Flip the pancake when it is golden brown on the bottom and bubbles are forming on top, about 1 1/2 minutes. Cook the other side until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Serve topped with more blueberries and the maple syrup.

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