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Summer and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Summer has arrived and is in full bloom here on Long Island!

From a Chinese medicine perspective, Summer is ruled by the Fire element. Fire is symbolic of maximum activity or greatest yang, which means that it is a time of heat, outgoingness, and moving outward in nature and in our lives. It is a season filled with abundant energy, long days, and sunshine and is considered to be the most yang time of the year. The extra hours of sunlight give us the time to nurture our creative energies and be part of the abundance that surrounds us. It is also a time for expansion, growth, activity, and a time where the body undergoes vigorous metabolic processes.

The Fire element manifests in our body through the heart, small intestine, pericardium, and the function known as the triple heater, which regulates our internal body temperature.  The color is red and the taste is bitter. The emotion associated with the Fire element is joy and manifests within us as love, laughter, and enthusiasm.

A Fire element in balance…..

When the Fire element is in balance, the heart is strong and healthy, the mind is calm and sleep is sound. Here are some other indications that your Fire element is in balance:

  • Ability to give and receive love
  • Able to communicate clearly and resolve conflicts
  • Have joy, play, and freedom
  • Are satisfied with intimacy and relationships
  • Trust
  • You have clear boundaries
  • Clear speech
  • Have Enthusiasm
  • Maturity
  • Passion

An imbalance in the Fire element…..

When there is an imbalance in the Fire element, there can be either an excess (mania) or lack (depression) of joy. Other indicators of an imbalance in the Fire element are:

  • Extreme anxiety or palpitations
  • Depression from loss of spark
  • Feeling that one’s heart is not at the helm
  • Insomnia
  • Apathy or hopelessness
  • Attempts to control self or others
  • Lack of boundaries
  • Dissatisfaction with intimate relationships
  • Flatness, dullness
  • Loneliness, isolation
  • Inability to be vulnerable or let love into the heart
  • Inability to trust appropriately
  • Excessive vulnerability, no protection, constant heartbreak
  • Hot-flashes
  • Skin eruptions
  • Blood and circulatory disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Excessive or deficient sexual energy, sexual dysfunction

Summer and Traditional Chinese Medicine

7 Tips for staying healthy this summer

1. Rise and set with the sun!

This means awakening earlier in the morning and going to bed later in the evening. Also, if possible, rest at midday.

2. Make time for play and relaxation.

There is no better time than now to make those plans with friends, colleagues, and family for some fun in the sun!

3. Eat cooling foods that are in season.

Be sure to visit your local farmer’s markets to find foods that are in season near you. Including more fruits and veggies like lettuce, watermelon, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and watercress is great this time of year. Cucumbers, beans, melons, and berries are also considered cooling and help balance the heat of the season. Fish and seafood should be included in your diet this time of year.

4. Eat bitter foods!

Because the taste associated with the Fire element is bitter, be sure to include some bitter greens like dandelion, parsley leaves, mustard greens, collard greens, burdock root, sesame seeds, endive, escarole, spinach, kale, and Swiss chard in your diet.

4. Remain hydrated!

While the expansive and active nature of this season makes us want to move, too much activity has the ability to create more heat. Balance the Fire element by drinking plenty of water, soaking in a pool or lake, and eating moist foods like melons and gazpacho. Don’t like plain water? Try adding some cucumber or mint for a refreshing drink.

5. Enjoy the Outdoors!

Connect with the season by spending time outdoors in nature and enjoying the warmer weather. Eating outdoors is particularly enjoyable, so pack that picnic basket and head to the park or the beach. Don’t forget the sunscreen! Head on over to EWG  to learn about how to choose a safe sunscreen to protect yourself and your loved ones.

6. Exercise! 

Exercise, but be sure to pace yourself when working outdoors, exercising, or just having fun.  Those who participate in regular exercise over time, allowing their bodies to adjust to hot conditions, may better tolerate exercise on hot days.

7. Wear light clothing!  

Lightweight clothing will help you stay cool, but did you know that lighter-colored clothing helps reflect the sunlight away from you?  Likewise, wearing dark colors absorbs light and heat. So kick your black, navy, and brown to the curb this season and get out those bright, light fun colors to stay cool.

I hope your summer is off to a great start. Be sure to live your passion and have a fun-filled, healthy summer!