Achieve Abundant Health This Summer with Traditional Chinese Medicine

When you think of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) do you think of ancient herbs, teas, maybe acupuncture? All those are valid but it’s also all about balance. Living in harmony with our environment. This is accomplished through the cultivation of healthy emotions, meditation, good nutrition, exercise, and healing therapies, which include acupuncture. If we want to feel our best all year around, it’s important to change the basics of our diet and lifestyle to coincide with the seasonal and environmental changes that occur around us, and in the summer, it’s more important than ever.

For most people, the high-energy yang dominated summer is a fairly easy concept to grasp. The peak of the yang energy shows throughout the qualities of summer that we all know and love: sunshine, warmth, light, brightness, abundance, and creativity. When talking about TCM, this season is associated with the element of fire, and, of course, joy, the heart, as well as the small intestine.

Teapot and cups on stone with bamboo leaves.

Photo credit: bigstock

Traditional Chinese medicine says that each season is ruled by a different earthly element. Summer is ruled by fire. Along with an element, each season has a correlation to different parts of the body and forms of energy. Imbalance within an element causes problems within the body and it’s corresponding organ. Fire covers the small intestine, tongue, and heart. To prevent an imbalance during these summer months, try doing what Chinese traditionalists suggest:


SEE ALSO: 6 Health Benefits of Bok Choy


In the abundance of the summer sun, it’s important to get up earlier in order to flourish, just as your flowers and summer vegetable garden does. Also, the abundance of that yang energy will allow you to be more physically active and stay up later at night and still feel energized. This is a time to focus on happiness, and feeling laid back. Avoid grudges or anger or any type of feeling that is based in negativity. During this season, indulging in too much negativity can lead to disharmony in the heart meridian and the organ system of the coming fall. Overindulgences should be avoided (as they always should) but in the summer sun, you can tolerate a bit of more of just about anything than you can during other times of the year. This is the time of year to play hard, work hard, be happy, light, travel, laugh and do things that make you feel happy, carefree and light.

Nutrition during this time of year should be about eating less and lightly. Lower the amount of salt in your diet while increasing your intake of water. It’s no surprise that the best foods to eat this time of year are the seasonal veggies, herbs, and fruits. Find enjoyment in creating beautiful, healthy food dishes that include every color of the rainbow. Each and every color represents a different collection of nutrients and a different TCM organ system within the body. Start a garden and grow your own food. Get your hands in the dirt and watch how your produce grows. If space allows, try to grow some watermelon, cantaloupe, lemons, peaches, oranges, asparagus, apricot, bok choy, broccoli, corn, bamboo, cucumber, snow peas, beans, cilantro, mint, summer squash, spinach and dill. Always grow your food organically. If you have problems with bugs, use natural means to deal with them such as natural predators.

Feel free to cook and season your foods but save the raw foods for the super-hot days. Even in the summertime, eating too many raw foods can be difficult for your digestive system. You are really going to feel the benefits of raw foods on those sticky, hot days. So in those dog days of summer eat those cooling foods such as fruits, salads, and watermelons. Enjoy these with iced herbal teas such as mint or chamomile. Minimize your intake of those heavy foods like meats and eggs to feel your best. Include some sour flavors, such as lemons and limes, to help protect your heart. Read more about benefits of lemons.

Summer is the season for gently spicing your foods with peppers, ginger, turmeric, and horse radish to help open up those pores and allow your body to become accustomed to the higher temperatures. Use spices in moderation, however, because using too many spices can be damaging to your health as well.

These are just some of the general guidelines to use in TCM, and remember that each diet should be unique to fit the individual and their health. You might want to visit a licensed TCM practitioner who can help you to identify your weaknesses and can suggest nutritional areas that need emphasis.