Keeping well in Summer

TCM Seasonal Series

TCM summer blog post

Change can create challenges in our lives and a big one that we are all experiencing right now is that of the of seasons – from spring in to summer. 

I wrote a blog post earlier this year on supporting yourself through Autumn from a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) perspective and a lot of people found it useful, so here is the Summer Edition!

Five Element Theory

Firstly, a simplified and brief explanation of the TCM therory that this guide is based on; the theory of the Five Elements. Qi (energy) is split in to five elements which are metal, earth, fire, water and wood. The theory being that we need harmony between each element for health. If one element is deficient or excessive, then we will experience illness or dis-ease. 

Summer from a TCM Perspective

Each element has characteristics from the natural world assigned to it which provide guidance on how to balance this aspect of our health. Summer is the season associated with the element of Fire. The emotion of joy when in balance. When in excess, the emotion is restlessness and when deficient, apathy.

Summer is a very Yang time of the year, which is associated with movement, activity and action. The organs linked to the Fire element are the Heart & Small intestine. 

It is associated with the colour red as well as growth, social activities and celebrations. 

Symptoms of Fire Imbalance 

  • Perspiration (too much or too little)
  • Rashes/Hives
  • Insomnia (and disturbed sleep)
  • Palpitations
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Anger

Practices to Support Balance

As the taste associated with Fire is bitterness, you could incorporate foods with this quality in to your diet eg endive & swiss chard. Bitter vegetables support digestion and remember that the Small Intestine is the organ associated with the Fire element. Try to eat foods that are in season and locally produced.

Keep cool by adding cucumber and mint to water and staying hydrated. Eating more fruit and veg generally will help with this too. It’s best to avoid hot, spicy and greasy foods.

The Heart is also associated with Fire and Summer, so this is the perfect time to practice using your intuition and ‘following your heart’. In TCM, the heart isn’t just a physical organ, it also houses our Shen, or our spirit. 

Swimming, yoga and meditation are the perfect antidotes to the fiery restlessness that summer can bring, and great for connecting to ourselves and tending to our inner fires. 

I hope you have found this interesting, and let me know your favourite ways to cool down in the summer!