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TCM Tips for a Healthy Summer

Summer is a Yang season, which embodies expansion, luxurious growth, brightness and outward activity. To live in harmony with summer is to express these qualities in our daily lives especially in our diet and lifestyle. Chapter 2 of the Su Wen section of Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classics) describes how we should regulate our mind and body in accordance with the Qi of the four seasons. For example, in summer we should rise early in the morning and reach out to the sun more, so that we can blossom like all the myriad plants do.


Food preparation

On hot days we should be eating less and lightly, avoiding late night and large evening meals. Consuming heavy, rich and stimulating foods (e.g. excess meat, dairy, oily and fried foods, refined sugar, alcohol) can interfere with Qi flow and cause sluggishness and/or irritability. It is important to eat seasonally and summer offers an abundant variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Foods that are cooling in nature are particularly beneficial, such as sprouts, salads, cucumber, tofu, watermelon, apple, lemon etc. Mung bean soup is a traditional remedy that helps alleviate summer heat and detoxifies the body.


In terms of seasoning, salt should be used less in summer as it has a sinking and centering quality which can bring heat deeper in the body. Drinking warm liquids and taking warm showers can help induce sweating to cool down the body. Similarly, a little bit of spices that are pungent in flavor can be added to foods as they can help disperse heat out of the body’s surface. But be careful not to add too many spices as they can excessively disperse body heat leading to weakness and loss of Yang. It is recommended to avoid over consumption of cold foods and drinks (e.g., ice-cream and iced drinks) as coldness contracts and weakens the digestive process. Coldness can also trap heat and sweat.



Looking after our heart-mind


Summer relates to the fire element, which corresponds to the heart and small intestine in the body. According to TCM, the heart houses the Shen-spirit and is the ‘ruler’ of our organs. It governs our consciousness, mental activities, memory, sleep, and regulates our emotions.


In this technologically advanced age, our minds can be easily scattered from being bombarded with an endless stream of information and thoughts. Such excessive stimulation can lead to yang energy rising and overheating the higher centers of the heart and brain, potentially manifesting as sleep, mental and emotional disturbances. Practicing mindfulness can help organize our scattered minds, strengthen the heart, and return our energies to balance. Other beneficial practices include meditation, Yoga, Qi Gong etc.


The Inner Classics state that in summer, “let the mind have no anger. Stimulate beauty and have your elegance perfected.” It is a time to engage in outdoor activities and creative projects, practice selfless service, and most importantly be joyful.



Author:

Dr Rachel Woo (TCM)

Morningside Acupuncture Healing Sanctuary


Disclaimer: Advice on this site is not a substitute for advice from a medical practitioner. If you have concerns, consult your medical practitioner first.

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