Summer and Chinese Medicine
Welcome, summer! The days are getting longer, it’s warming up, and the holidays are upon us. Summer is packed with fun, excitement, and playful times. We relish in the extra sunlight and feel energized by the heat and activity of the season.
Despite all this newfound energy and fun, summer can be a tiresome season. There are so many things to do! It is full of holiday obligations, school vacations, travel, and wrapping up the end of the year and starting up a brand new one. This can be less than fun for some of us; summer can trigger illness, stress, sleep trouble, and a variety of seasonal issues.
In Chinese medicine, people are considered one with the environment, a working part of the entire system. To live in harmony with the seasons is the central goal, and allows us to avoid illness and find more balance.
In summer, as our part of the world heats up, so do our bodies. Trouble with excess heat and stimulation can put a damper on our summer fun. Fortunately, Chinese medicine provides us with many tricks to beat the heat and stay healthy all summer long. Read on to learn how incorporating Chinese medicine into your summer season can help you enjoy this season to its fullest!
When we think of summer, we naturally think of hot (maybe even scorching) days, cooling off in the pool or at the beach, and staying up late. When considering Chinese medicine, we understand summer as the most Yang season of the year. What does that mean? Active, energetic, hot, buzzing, expanding, radiant, joyful. It can also mean strong, irritable, or dry.
Chinese medicine correlates all seasons to a specific colour, organ system, temperature, element, emotion, and more. Summer is paired with the element of fire and (naturally) heat, dryness, and the color red.
The Heart and Small Intestine also correspond to summer. In Chinese medicine, as in biomedicine, the Heart is in charge of circulating our blood and keeping us active. Interestingly, the Heart system is also in charge of regulating sweating which is a key aspect of life in summer.
Emotionally, the Heart is paired with joy (and all emotions to some extent), dreams, and vitality. However, when out of balance we can feel manic or agitated rather than peacefully joyful. Alternatively, we may experience depression or numbness. Summer is an excellent time to pay extra attention to our emotional health.
The Small Intestine is another organ related to the summer season. This is one of the most important organs in the regulation of body fluids. All our food and drink passes through the Small Intestine and the necessary parts are carefully chosen and absorbed. For this reason, some digestive issues can arise in summer if this system is stressed.
Common Summer Complaints
As the seasons change, our bodies are susceptible to different imbalances, and summer is no exception. Each person will respond to the change of seasons in their own way. In general, however, heat and activity of summer can cause us to have some trouble with sleep, skin, and the digestive system. Here are some of the troubles that can come along in summer:
- Heartburn, irritability, sleeplessness, restlessness, agitation
- Depression, lack of motivation, exhaustion, sleepiness
- Painful, dark, or hot urination, sore throats, skin rashes
- Increased temperature, night sweats, hot flushes, nausea, diarrhea, odours
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help improve these seasonal troubles substantially.
Contact me if you are suffering from any of the above issues or need help getting through the summer month.
Helpful tips to fight summer heat
Chinese medicine offers many helpful tips to combat summer’s heat and keep us cool and comfortable. The secret to living in harmony with the season is to embrace this special time and take advantage of our vibrant, sunny days.
Eat With the Season
Stay Cool: Balance out your meals with cooling and hydrating foods. This usually involves adding high water content foods like cucumber, watermelon, capsicum, tomatoes, greens, radishes, celery, and carrots. Stay hydrated with lemon or lime water or even a cucumber-mint spritzer.
Raw Vs. Cooked
While summer is a much better time of year to enjoy fresh salads and more raw foods, it is not advised to rely solely on a raw food diet. Chinese medicine pays close attention to the functioning of the digestive system (which needs some warmth to work properly) and does not recommend a diet heavy in raw foods for most people.
Too many raw and cold foods will weaken the system over time. This leads to stagnation and sluggishness which can cause issues like bloating, diarrhea, or constipation. In the heat of summer, this makes for a very uncomfortable experience.
Try steamed and lightly stir-fried foods in summer in addition to your fresh salads. Increased seafood and tons of veggies are delicious choices that will keep you cool while maintaining your digestive health.
Stay Hydrated: As with any season, staying hydrated is important to keep your body healthy and your brain sharp. In summer, this is even more important as we are typically losing more water than usual. Maintaining hydration can help with fatigue, irritability, skin irritation, and constipation.
Summer Shopping List: Here is a list of traditional foods that are considered cooling and hydrating in Chinese medicine:
- Bok Choy
- Snow Peas
- Summer Squash
- Bean Sprouts
In summer’s heat, try out light exercises like yoga, tai chi, walking, and swimming to keep your cool and stay calm all summer. Avoid heavy exercise and excessive sweating – you’ll want to maintain your body fluids to stay healthy.
Summer is an important time to practice self-care and tend to both your physical and mental health.
This is a great time to work towards achieving your goals. Yang energy is radiant and pulsing. Because of this, summer is a great time to use this momentum to start a new project, exercise routine, or reach a goal. This is the time to take action on all of the plans you have been brewing up all year.
In addition to embracing the yang of the season, we don’t want to forget about the yin aspects of life. Balance is key! We touched upon staying hydrated by drinking water, but we can use water emotionally as well. Spend time by the ocean, lakes, or rivers. Seek out blue or dark spaces for your daily meditation. If you don’t have easy access to water in your environment, play ocean or rain sounds to help you relax and cool off from the day.
Find Time to Chill Out
We love summer for it’s fun and wild personality, as well as all the exciting things that come along with summer: barbecues, holiday parties, pool days, and travel. All this activity makes it even more important to balance our hectic schedules during this season with purposeful rest.
Chinese medicine recommends taking breaks throughout the day to combat the hectic nature of summer. Find some areas of your day to slow down – perhaps take your time cooking dinner, reserve one day per week for rest and personal care, or participate in a daily meditation or walk. Acupuncture is a great way to relax, destress, and cool off while bringing your body back to balance.
Enjoy summer to the Fullest
Summer can become a favorite time of year for so many reasons. Everyone loves to warm up to the season and emerge fresh from the chilly winter and expanding spring. With so many things to enjoy about summer, we must remember to take care of ourselves during this time. Living in tune with the seasons and maintaining our health is the only way to fully enjoy all the amazing things that summer has to offer.
If you are struggling with getting in tune with summer, or want to help your body enjoy summer to the fullest, contact us today!