Keeping Cool this Summer with Chinese Medicine

Summer in Chinese medicine is the season which is associated with the heart and the element fire. When the element of fire is in balance, the heart will be strong. However, if that’s not the case, summer can be a difficult time for some people – without them even realizing the shift in season is the reason for their symptoms. This can be the case for all seasonal transitions throughout the year.

When your body gets overheated and out of balance in summertime, you may experience symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Heart palpitations
  • Restless sleep or insomnia
  • Increase in night sweats or hot flashes
  • Dizziness
  • Increase in headache frequency
  • Irritability or fatigue

Another common summer heart-related pattern is an increase in low back weakness and pain. This is because the heart and kidneys both become unbalanced when the heart becomes overheated from increased exposure to summer heat. Here at the clinic, this has been one of the most common seasonal symptoms treated.

Tips for Staying Cool and Balanced

It’s important during the summer to regulate your body temperature to help take stress of the heart and manage excessive heat that can accumulate in the body. These strategies can help your body regulate heat and promote better sleep during the summer:

  1. Take breaks when gardening, exercising, or working outdoors. During the peak hours of the summer’s heat, typically between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., be sure to take breaks indoors or in the shade to cool down for about 15 minutes for every hour you spend in the sun.
  2. Make water your friend. Your drink of choice should be simple, plain water as coffee and alcohol are heating and dehydrating to your body. It’s better to drink cool water without ice, but if you’re going to add ice, do so sparingly. Drinking ice cold water can actually cause your body to go out of balance as well. It’s all about keeping your body in neutral.
  3. Focus on cool – not cold – foods. This is the time of year where you should be enjoying water-filled fruits and vegetables, like melons, celery, cucumbers, peaches, asparagus, berries, artichoke, and lettuce. These light and cool foods will help moderate fire in the heart leading up to the first day of summer all the way through the season. For those who like kale, please take a break from it and substitute it with spinach. Kale is very warming and can be too heating to the body during heart season.
    You should also steer clear of red meats, overly cooked vegetables, and heavy carb-loaded meals, as they will produce large amounts of heat that are better suited for fall and winter, not summer. Also, only enjoy smoothies and ice cream in very small amounts.
  4. Be mindful when showering. Begin with a warm shower and gradually cool the temperature. This will open the pores and draw heat from the skin to help the body regulate heat and promote better sleep.

Acupuncture and Herbs Beneficial During Summertime

Enjoying the long days and warmer weather can increase lethargy and fatigue. Acupuncture can be used to help those who spend a lot of time outdoors to balance body temperature, clear heat, and stay in balance. Along with acupuncture, customized herbal formulas will help cool the body’s core and clear heat from the skin and muscles.

When your body is in complete balance, the change in seasons should not affect you. So imbalance during season transitions is not considered normal in Chinese medicine. If you are feeling more tired, experiencing new pain in the body, or other symptoms that have recently cropped up during summertime – you’re in need of some of Chinese medicine’s TLC.

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