Through the lens of Chinese Medicine, summer is the most yang time of the year. According to the 24 solar terms, summer (lì xià) started on May 5th this year.
The Season of the Heart and the Fire Element/Phase
The organ associated with summer is the Heart. The Heart is the emperor of the human body, it governs blood and is responsible for the Shen (Mind: process all sensory info o to supervise mind and body reaction).
Opens to: Tongue
The yang energy of summer is the ideal time for socializing (with discretion), nurturing creative projects you’ve been wanting to do and spend some time to exercise outside and get some vitamin D.
Observing the cycles of nature can provide a dynamic reflection of our own health. Engaging with the environment’s seasonal transitions is an insightful way to get in tune with ourselves and the world. Chinese Medicine believes that when treating disharmonies in the body, there is greater benefit in a seasonal approach and treatments may vary based on time of year because the body is affected by, and a reflection of, the environment around us.
Chinese Medicine Treatments
Summer is a great time to continue or start Chinese medicine treatments that are uplifting or tonifying for yang, qi, and blood. It is also a time when heat and fire patterns can be suffered in a more pointed or aggressive presentation. When the Heart is in balance, it is a kind leader but out of balance, people may experience:
•Irritability, anxiety, restlessness
•Depression (too little joy) or mania (excess joy)
•Speech problems: Excessive talking, inappropriate laughter, rapid speech, aphasia, stuttering
As an age old health model, Chinese medicine is generally not supportive of fad diets and health trends. Luckily for the foodies, it’s a medicine (and culture) that loves food and regular eating habits.
According to Joerg Kastner in his book Chinese Nutrition Therapy, the heat of summer “feeds on body fluids and harms yin. It is recommended to take in predominantly cooling, yin foods to disperse heat and build up body fluids. The bitter flavor corresponds to the fire phase, and mostly bitter–cool as well as bitter–cold foods in moderation should be consumed during the hot season.” In general, choose lighter foods to avoid indigestion (per the Heart’s relationship to the Small Intestine).
Diet suggestions for summer include:
•Fruit: Apple, lemon, kiwi, watermelon, orange, pear, pineapple, tangerine
•Cooling foods: Cucumber, Belgian endive hearts, spinach, tomato, salads, yogurt, wheat, barley, fish, rabbit, mint, dill, cilantro
•Drinks: Lots of water, watermelon juice, green tea (it disperses summer heat and can expel toxins, cool the heart fire, calm the mind, remove heat from liver and gallbladder, and relieve stomach and lung)
•Combos: Mint and Chrysanthemum both aid in cooling the body and skin and also mildly supports liver function. If you are feeling adventurous, you could combine these as a tea and add a pinch of honeysuckle to create a wonderful floral tea to keep you cool.
•Avoid: Hot and dry foods such as coffee, excessively spicy foods, ice cold foods like ice cream since they cause the digestive system to slow down. As late summer and autumn approach, this would be an appropriate time to make fitting diet changes and support patients that choose to do cleanses.
Note: Watermelon has cooling properties and is appropriate for those who are always hot & flushed when everyone else is wearing a jacket, have red active acne, fever, constipation (heat type) or easily get sore throat. It is not appropriate for those who always have cold hands and feet, poor digestion, loose stools during menstruation-try instead mango and cherry.
Summer Self Care Practices
Summer is a time for growth and expansion. Allow yourself to connect and relate to people who bring you joy, make time to play, experience life and go on an adventure or two but be sure to balance it with plenty of water, downtime, and relaxation.
• Wake up earlier in the morning
• Rest at midday
• Go to bed later
• Seek water to balance the Fire element: cool baths & showers, swims
• Seek activities that bring you joy and put you in a state of ease & flow
• Nourish creative projects
• Find time to play like you did as a child
For more contents on wellness tips and Chinese medicine, take a look at our previous blogs: https://www.ginkgowellnesscenter.com/blog
Ginkgo Wellness Chinese medicine center
Address: 1400 S Wolf Rd. Bldg 200, Suite 203, Wheeling, IL 60090