Chinese Medicine- The Five Elements: Seasons - Summer
Chinese Medicine- The Five Elements: Seasons
Chinese medicine teaches us to live in harmony with the seasons. In Chinese medicine theory, there are five seasons- winter, spring, summer, late summer, and fall. Each season helps us to change our habits so that we may create more balance between the external environment and our bodies. The foods and lifestyles that follow the Chinese Medicine aid in keeping one healthy throughout the year and provides the tools to keep the immune systems and organs strong to ward off disease.
June 21st is the first day of summer as well as the longest day of the year. The extra hours of sunlight give time to nurture our creative energies. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Fire is the element associated with summer, giving us the power to give light and to illuminate our inner being and the external world.
Summer is warm and gives us the power to fully celebrate life in its bounty. It is the season of growth and maturation, which translates into gardens bursting with flowers and vegetables. The weather is conducive for shared outings, parties, barbeques, and recreational sports. During this time, we nurture these relationships with friends and family.
Summer is one of the best times for you to concentrate on rebuilding the energy consumed during the winter and spring months. As summer activities can initiate your relaxation and meditative time, make sure to find a balance between action and being.
The Heart and Small Intestine
During the summer season, the heart and small intestine are the main focuses within our body. The heart is the center of the circulatory system and its primary responsibility is to serve as a pump that controls the flow of blood through the body. The heart is also responsible for intelligence, wisdom, and spiritual transformation.
The small intestine is an organ supporting digestion, assimilation, and elimination. In Chinese medicine, it is said to “separate the pure from the impure” as it separates the pure nutrients from our food and drink, while eliminating the waste.
In the three months of summer there is an abundance of sunshine and rain. The heavenly energy descends, and the earthly energy rises. As a result, plants mature and a profusion of animals, flowers, and fruit appear.
Fruits and vegetables to eat include:
Symptoms associated with imbalances during the summer season include:
Anxiety or restlessness/irritability
Dry mouth and excessive thirst
Tension in the chest
Trouble with racing thoughts/overactive mind
How to Keep Healthy and Joyful During the Summer
Trust your intuition… When we know something in our heart, we are connected to a deeper part of our being. Try to listen to your inner voice.
Eat cooling foods… and eat slowly. Enjoy the flavors of the vegetables and fruits in their season. The Fire element is associated with bitterness, so try to include bitter greens like endive, escarole, spinach, kale, and Swiss chard in your diet.
Drink lots of water… The sun pulls the moisture from your pores, so it is important that you rehydrate. Drink eight to ten 8-oz glasses of water a day even if you do not feel thirsty.
Exercise. A healthy heart needs regular exercise to keep the circulatory system in good condition. By engaging in a good cardiovascular exercise, you can build a sweat, which helps to cleanse toxins from the body. Do exercises that work with your body and what you are capable of. The heart is more vulnerable in the summer, so build your exercise routine gradually.
Dr. Jane Catania, DACM
Board Certified & Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist Trained in China & U.S.