June 22, 2010

Traditional Chinese Medicine’s Prescription for Health this Summer.

Summer Heat, Summer Health—Summer Sizzle.

Element – Fire, Color – Red, Nature – Yang, 
Direction – South, Movement – Spreading Outward, 
Emotion – Joy, Organs – Heart-Small Intestine, Taste – Bitter

Summer is the season of Yang, a time when the body undergoes vigorous metabolic (body energy) processes. Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends cultivating Yang energy in spring and summer, while protecting Yin energy in autumn and winter.

Chinese Medicine believes summer belongs to fire, one of the five elements. Fire is symbolic of maximum activity or greatest Yang; a time of heat, outgoingness, and moving outward in nature and in our lives. In human anatomy, the heart, mind, and spirit are ruled by the fire element, so priority is given to heart, mind, and spirit for staying healthy in summer.

The Heart Element

The heart’s main function is to pump oxygen-rich blood through the body. In Chinese medicine, mental activity is associated with the heart and therefore memory, thought processes, emotional well-being, and consciousness are also attributed to the heart and fire element. When the fire element is in balance, the heart is strong and healthy, the mind is calm and sleep is sound. When the fire element is imbalanced, we may either lack joy (depression) or have an excess of joy (mania). Indicators of an imbalance in the fire element include agitation, nervousness, heartburn, and insomnia.

The Fire Element

Fire is associated with the Summer season and with heat. The element is associated with the heart, pericardium, small intestines and related to the tongue. Emotionally, this element is associated with the mind and it’s stability. The heart is the “seat” of the mind and its highest expression is love. Enthusiasm, warmth in human relationships and conscious awareness.

The heart Chakra is the center of the Chakra system and is the integrator of opposites in the psyche: mind and body, male and female, persona and shadow, ego and unity. When imbalanced, we may lack joy (depression) or have an excess of joy (maniac condition).

Fire is symbolic of maximum activity or greatest Yang; nature at its peak of growth, and the motion is upward. Agitation, nervous exhaustion, heartburn and insomnia are other indicators of imbalance in this area. Physically, when the fire element is balanced, the heart properly governs and circulates the blood and insures proper assimilation of the beginning breakdown of food in the small intestines. Emotionally, when the fire element is balanced, sensitivity and expression, true fulfillment and the equilibrium between heart and mind are our greatest rewards.

The season is filled with abundant energy, long days and sunshine.  This is the most Yang time of year.  Summer is about expansion, growth, activity and creativity.

Tips for Summer Health

To prevent summer ills and remain in harmony with the environment of summer:

  • Awaken earlier in the morning.
  • Go to bed later in the evening.
  • Rest at midday.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Add pungent flavors to your diet.
  • Refrain from anger; keep calm and even-tempered.
  • Keep water with slices of lemon and cucumber and sip throughout day.
  • Eat in moderation – over consumption of food, especially cooling foods, can lead to indigestion, sluggishness and possibly diarrhea.
  • Stay away from dairy, heavy, greasy, and fried foods. Eating Under the Sun In summer, indigestion can easily occur, so a light and less-greasy diet is recommended.

It is the perfect season to introduce cool, Yin foods into your diet. Chinese nutrition classifies food according to its energetic qualities of temperature, taste, and ability to moisten and strengthen the body. Food with cool/cold properties can clear heat, reduce toxins, and generate body fluids.

In general, cooling foods tend towards the green spectrum — lettuce, cucumbers, and watercress are some of the coolest. Few vegetables are warming. Fish and seafood are also cooling, while most meats are warming.

Suggestions to keep you cool and balanced all summer long. These fruits and vegetables will help body adjust its temperature during the long, hot summer days:

  • Watermelon
  • Apricot
  • Cantaloupe
  • Lemon
  • Peach
  • Orange
  • Asparagus
  • Sprouts
  • Bamboo
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Corn
  • Cucumber
  • White mushroom
  • Snow peas
  • Spinach
  • Summer squash
  • Watercress
  • Seaweed
  • Mung means
  • Cilantro
  • Mint
  • Dill
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