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The Summer Season in Chinese Medicine: Nurturing Vitality and Balance

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

In Chinese medicine, the seasons play a crucial role in understanding the human body and maintaining overall well-being. Each season is associated with specific elements, energies, and organ systems. Among these seasons, summer holds a unique significance.

The Essence of Summer:

Summer, known as "Xia" in Chinese, is considered the season of abundant Yang energy and the Fire element. The Fire element represents warmth, vitality, growth, and expansion. In nature, the sun shines brightly, flowers bloom, and the world is adorned with vibrant colors. Similarly, within the human body, the heart, which governs the Fire element, holds prominence during this season.

The Heart, the Small Intestine and Summer:

In Chinese medicine, summer is associated with the corresponding organ systems of the heart and small intestine. The heart is considered the emperor of the body, governing blood circulation and housing the "Shen" or the spirit and mind, which regulates the overall well-being of an individual. Therefore, it is not only a physical organ but also an energetic center responsible for consciousness, emotions, and mental activities. When the heart -mind is settled and protected, then Shen resides there quietly.

The small intestine is responsible for digestion and absorption. It is believed that during summer, these organs are more active and susceptible to imbalances.

Maintaining Balance:

Although summer represents a time of heightened energy and vitality, it is crucial to maintain balance to prevent the excessive heat from causing imbalances within the body. According to Chinese medicine, imbalances can manifest as symptoms such as excessive sweating, restlessness, irritability, insomnia, digestive issues, and skin problems. Therefore, adhering to the following principles can help maintain equilibrium during this season:

  • Nourishing Yin: Summer's intense heat can deplete the body's Yin energy, which represents the cooling and nourishing aspects. To counterbalance this, it is important to consume cooling foods and beverages, such as watermelon, cucumber, mint, and green tea. These help replenish fluids, hydrate the body, and clear excess heat, promoting Yin nourishment.

  • Moderating Activity Levels: While summer encourages outdoor activities, excessive heat and prolonged exposure to the sun can be taxing on the body. Engaging in moderate exercises, such as gentle stretching, walking, and swimming, is advisable. Avoiding strenuous activities during the hottest parts of the day and seeking shade when necessary can prevent heat exhaustion and protect the body's energy.

  • Protecting the Heart: Given the association of the heart with the Fire element, it is crucial to protect and support its energy during summer. Practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness, can help calm the mind, reduce stress, and harmonize the heart's energy. Adequate rest and quality sleep are also essential for the heart's restoration and overall well-being.

  • Balancing Diet: In Chinese medicine, dietary choices play a significant role in maintaining health. During summer, light and refreshing foods are recommended to counterbalance the heat. Emphasize a diet rich in seasonal fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, berries, cucumber, lettuce, and tomatoes. Incorporating bitter foods like bitter melon or dandelion greens can also aid in cooling and detoxifying the body.

  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture can be utilized to rebalance the body's energy during summer. Specific acupuncture points can help regulate body temperature, improve circulation, and harmonize the heart's energy.

Acupressure Points for Calming the Heart/Mind:

Acupressure involves applying moderate pressure to specific points on the body to promote relaxation, relieve pain, and enhance overall well-being. While it's important to note that acupressure should not be considered a substitute for medical treatment, there are several points that are believed to help calm the mind. Here are a few acupressure points commonly used for this purpose:

  • Shenmen - Spirit Gate

Found on the inner wrist crease, in line with the little finger. Shenmen soothes the mind and spirit, easing anxiety, sadness, depression and mania. It helps to mend a broken heart. It calms the physiscal heart, treating such conditions as pounding, palpitations and arrhytmia. It assists with memory and mental capacity; it helps with conditions of speech and the tongue, and it helps when there is insomnia and restless sleep, calming the heart and mind to allow for peaceful rest.

  • Neiguan - Inner Gate

Situated on the inner forearm, about three finger-widths above the wrist crease between the tendons. Neiguan has the capacity to bring steadiness to the bodymind. It steadies the heart, the circulation, the stomach, the mind and the emotions. It is one of the strongest points influencing the chest and the chest cavity, therefore it treats chest pain, pain in the ribs, as well as palpitations, arrhythmia and hypertension. It has a general analgesic effect and treats a wide range of emotional disorders, such as irritability, anxiety, depression, mania, fear, fright, sadness, and insomnia. It is a go-to point for nausea and vomiting. If we name some of the benefits of using this point, it certainly is one of the most important of all the acupoints!

Foods tips for summer:

Conclusion: The summer season in Chinese medicine represents a period of vitality and growth, characterized by the abundant Yang energy and the Fire element. To maintain balance during this season, we should consume cooling foods and beverages, engage in moderate exercise, practice relaxation techniques, eat light and refreshing foods, perform self-acupressure for calming the mind, and get an appointment for acupuncture to help regulate body temperature, improve circulation, and harmonize the heart's energy!

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