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  • Writer's pictureDr. Monica L. Hilton, DACM, LAc

TCM and Summer

It's summertime! 😎 The days are longer, the weather is warmer, and flowers are blooming. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Summer is associated with the Fire element and is known as the time of the Heart. During this time of year, it's important to balance the Heart energy and make the necessary changes to harmonize with the season.

In a previous blog post, we discussed the theory of Five Elements - Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. This ancient Chinese system serves as a guide to understanding the correspondences between the body and nature. Each element has its own set of characteristics and correspondences. The Fire element corresponds to the following:

Season: Summer Stage of Development: Growth

Direction: South Organs: Heart and Small Intestine

Color: Red Sense Organ: Tongue

Taste: Bitter Tissue: Blood Vessels

Climate: Heat Emotion: Joy

According to TCM theory, the Heart rules the blood and the blood vessels. It is responsible for moving blood throughout the body and storing the Shen. The Shen in TCM is your consciousness, alertness, and mental vitality. It is associated with the mental capacity to think, feel, and respond.

When the Heart qi and blood are imbalanced you may experience poor memory, anxiety, heart palpitations, or insomnia. One may also have excessive dreaming, poor circulation, or dull thinking. The taste associated with the Heart is bitter. A bitter taste in the mouth is often due to a pattern we call Heart-Fire and is associated with feelings of resentment, jealousy, frustration, or guilt. The Heart also governs the tongue, speech, and sweat. Disharmony of the Heart can give rise to inappropriate laughter, problems with speech like stuttering or incessant talking, and excessive sweating.

These imbalances can be corrected with the help of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and TCM nutrition. We can regulate the Heart and harmonize with the season by adjusting our diet and making a few lifestyle changes. Here are a few tips to help you this summer:

Get acupuncture! Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can regulate Heart qi and blood to calm the mind, ease anxiety, improve sleep and regulate circulation.

Eat with the season. In TCM we use foods for their energetic properties to correct imbalances within the body. In the Summer meals should be light and easy to digest. One should also incorporate more bitter and cooling foods into your diet like asparagus, bitter melon, cucumber, apple, tomato, lemon, watermelon, spinach, plums, and mung beans. Avoid heavy, greasy, and fatty foods this time of year.

Keep moving! Mild exercises like stretching, walking, tai chi, qi gong, and yoga can help calm the Shen, reduce stress, improve mental clarity, boost the mood, and promote restful sleep.

Stay hydrated. During this time of year, it’s easy for the body to overheat and lose fluids. Proper hydration is essential to regulate body temperature, deliver nutrients to cells, maximize physical performance, and keep organs functioning properly.

Thanks for stopping by! If you enjoyed these TCM health tips feel free to share them with a friend. See you soon! 😊

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