The Summer season filled with abundant energy, long days and sunshine. This is the most yang time of year. Summer is about expansion, growth, activity and creativity. According to Chinese medicine, Summer is associated with the element of Fire. In human anatomy, the heart, mind, and spirit are ruled by the fire element. Top priority should be given to the heart, mind, and spirit for staying healthy in summer.
Keeping Balanced during Summer
The heart’s main function is to pump oxygen-rich blood through the body. In Chinese medicine, mental activity is also associated with the heart including our memory, thought processes, emotional well-being, and consciousness. This is a time to use our energy to realize our life’s greatest potential as we find joy in our hot summer days and warm summer nights. When the fire element is in balance, the heart is strong and healthy, the mind is calm and sleep is sound. When the Fire element is out of balance, we may see depression (too little fire), or chaos/mania (too much fire). Agitation, nervousness, heartburn, and insomnia are symptoms that there is an imbalance. Taken to the extreme, summer heat can cause you to suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke with symptoms such as fainting, dark-colored urine, rapid heart rate, confusion, throbbing headache, red and dry skin. Seek immediate medical attention if these occur.
To prevent these problems, I recommend that we take full advantage of the long summer days. Some suggestions include:
- Awakening earlier in the morning and going to bed later in the evening.
- Resting at midday when heat is at its highest.
- Drinking plenty of fluids. This is key to balance the heat of fire and eliminating any toxins.
- Adding pungent flavors like spicy foods, garlic and ginger to your diet. These cause you to sweat, which actually functions to cool the body
- Keeping your diet light and avoid heavy, greasy or sugary foods. Eat in moderation.
- Refrain from anger; keep calm and even-tempered.
- Seek Chinese Medicine when you feel out of balance.
Diet – Keep it cool
In summer, indigestion can easily occur, so a light and less-greasy diet is recommended. This is the perfect season to introduce some cool foods into your diet. Cooling foods can clear heat, reduce toxins, and generate body fluids. Cooling foods are those you typically find during this time of year – lettuce and other greens, cucumbers, and watercress are some of the coolest. Fish and seafood are also cooling, while most meats are warming.
Here are some suggestions to keep you cool and balanced all summer long. These fruits and vegetables will help your body adjust its temperature and protect you during the long, hot summer days:
- Melons – Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Honeydew (here’s a great recipe for Cucumber Watermelon Salad)
- Citrus – Lemon, Lime, Orange
- Leafy greens – Bok choy, Spinach, Watercress
- Squashes – Summer squash, Zucchini
- Other cooling veggies include Asparagus, Broccoli, Corn, Cucumber
- Herbs – Cilantro, Mint, Dill
Acupuncture has been found to be helpful with all types of emotional and mental disorders, from stress and anxiety to schizophrenia. I frequently use an acupuncture point called Yintang, a point located between the eyebrows – sometimes referred to as “the third eye.” It is used to calm the mind, enhance one’s ability to focus, soothe emotions, promote sleep, and relieve depression. I recorded a video a while back that demonstrates how you can stimulate this point yourself. Give it a try. It’s quite popular with my patients.
Most importantly, enjoy life to the fullest during the summer months. If you need help, you know where to find me.