Traditional Chinese Medicine and Summer

The Summer season represents expansion, activity, creativity and growth.Element: Fire Emotion: Joy Color: Red Nature: Yang Organ: Heart and Small Intestine

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each season represents a different element which requires us to adapt changes to our diet and lifestyle in order to maintain balance. We need to alter the foods we eat and the activities we partake in to correspond with the nature of the season. Fire is the element of Summer. When the fire element is in balance, there is peace of mind and restful sleep. When there is an imbalance of the fire element, we may experience agitation, nervousness, depression, loss of memory and insomnia. The heart opens to the tongue, especially the tip of the tongue. So take a look at your tongue. If the tip is redder than the rest of your tongue, you may have excessive heart fire. This can be verified by looking at the symptoms of imbalance. Yang is the nature of Summer. Yang is warm, light, external and focused on action. It is dominated by the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). It is loud, busy, vigorous and energetic. I am sure you have met people with excessive Yang energy. They talk a lot and very fast, may have a flushed appearance, can’t sit still and may have a quick temper. Actually that sounds a lot like my 3 year old. That is because children are a perfect example of Yang in its fullest expression. As we grow older, yang gets used up due to the natural progression of life but the quickness of its exhaustion is dependent on our lifestyle and diet. I will go much more into detail about that in my next blog. For now, here are a few tips on how to maintain balance during the summer season.

Cut down on meat, both red and white,  which tends to be warming. Avoid fried, greasy foods, dairy, overeating and excessive alcohol. Increase the consumption of fruit, cooked vegetables and grains. Keep water with a lemon or cucumber slices in it to sip on throughout the day.

Cooling foods Avocado, asparagus, bamboo shoots, bananas, eggplant, grapefruit, lemon, kiwi, peach, pineapple, strawberry, watermelon and melons in general, alfalfa, barley, celery, fish and seafood, cucumber, lettuce, millet, mung-bean, peppermint, potato, radish, tomato, watercress, and zucchini.

Enjoy the outdoors, find time for rest and relaxation in nature, take part in calming activities such as yoga, meditation, nightly walks and leisurely hikes early morning or later in the day. Make it a point to visit the beach at least once a week especially early mornings and in the evenings when it is not so hot. Take afternoon naps when you can.

“Make your heart like a lake with a calm, still surface and great depths of kindness.” Lao Tzu