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Happy Summer Solstice.  Today we celebrate the first day of Summer!  

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) living in harmony with nature and the universe is one of the greatest teachings of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).   

By adjusting your manner of living through the seasons you naturally support your health; body, mind and spirit.

I wish to share with you some ancient wisdom on living in harmony through the summer season. 

The foundation of TCM is also rooted in the relationship between yin and yang.  Summer represents the peak of yang.  The transition from spring to summer is represented by the wood element moving into the fire element.  As we move into summer, yang qi  grows and this supports the key feature of summer – “growing”.  Days are long and hot and this is very beneficial to the growth and development of all living things.  We witness this through the growth of the baby animals born in spring and plants blossoming and bearing fruit.

The functions of the human body also change under the influence of a hotter climate.  The yang qi inside our body also tends to release outwards.  Therefore, we need to pay attention to the protection of our yang qi and adapt to the feature of “growing” during summer.

Regulating the daily life

In summer we tend to take advantage of the long days by filling them with outdoor activities and projects and social gatherings.  In TCM it is important to always maintain a balance between activity and rest to support your health. 

In summer rise early, complete your physical activities in the morning, nap in the afternoon (especially if your sleep quality is affected by warm nights) to maintain your energy and stay up later.  This practice will give you the benefits of filling your days with activity and creativity whilst avoiding the heat of the day which can be damaging to the body.

Regulating emotions

The heart is the corresponding organ to summer and the fire element.  Therefore, summer heat easily acts upon the heart and can cause the uprising of the heart fire.  Flaring up of heart fire can give rise to restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, uneasiness, irritability and anger outbursts. 

Elderly people are easily affected by the heat as they are less able to endure climatic variations.  As a result, they are often in an anxious state of mind. 

Accordingly, in summer give greater attention to regulating your emotions, calm the mind and avoid anger and vexation to cultivate a quiet temperament. As an ancient proverb goes, “a calm heart naturally cools down the body.”

Regulating diet

To protect the heart from summer heat it is best to eat foods that clear heat and are cooling.   This is very different to eating foods that are cold in temperature.  The best foods that reduce heat include; watermelon, cucumber and mung beans (mung bean soup recipe below).

Avoid heavy, greasy, pungent, spicy foods, red meat, chicken, coffee, cigarettes and alcohol as they are very warm in nature and can transform the yang qi into “fire” in the body. 

Do not overindulge in ice cold drinks, iced water and cold foods in summer as they will injure the digestive system causing stomach and intestinal issues. 

Balancing fire with water is essential to staying healthy in the summer.  Stay hydrated with fluids at room temperature; filtered water, coconut water and water melon juice.  Coconut water or fresh lemon or lime juice added to your water will supplement your electrolytes.

More foods that clear heat and cool the body:
Fruit – apple, banana, pear, persimmon, cantaloupe, tomato, citrus
Vegetables – lettuce, radish, celery, button mushroom, asparagus, chard, eggplant, spinach, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet corn, zucchini
Legumes and Grains – tofu, tempeh, alfalfa sprouts, millet, barley, amaranth
Other – kelp, spirulina, wheat and barley grass
Herbs and Spices – peppermint, lemon balm, cilantro, marjoram

Physical training.

Physical activity is best done in the morning or evening to avoid profuse sweating. 

Avoid strenuous exercise as excessive perspiration not only impairs the yin aspect of the body but also makes the yang qi release outwards.  This can deplete our yang qi, when we should be nourishing and protecting it in Spring and Summer. 

Mung Bean Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of dried mung beans
  • 2 liters of water
  • 1 tb of sugar or another sweetener you prefer

Instructions:

  • Rinse the mung beans in water
  • In a large pot add mung beans, water and sugar
  • Bring to a boil and then simmer until mung beans begin to break down.
  • Allow it to cool down and store in the refrigerator.  Enjoy it at room temperature. 
  • It will keep for about 24 hours.

 

For some chronic illnesses that are worse in winter (such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, poor circulation, cardiovascular conditions, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, bronchial asthma, diarrhea and joint pain), it is best to treat them in summer to prevent their reoccurrence or reduce their severity in winter.

 

May every sunrise hold more promise and every sunset hold more peace.

 

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