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Natural Health Approach: Season of Summer in Chinese Medicine

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, summer is a season of vitality, growth, and expression
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Paul Gaucher and Dove Sprout co-own Vitality Acupuncture & Wellness Centre.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the concept of seasons plays a vital role in understanding health and well-being. Each season is associated with specific energetic qualities, organ systems, emotions, and recommended practices to maintain balance within the body and mind. Summer - characterized by its warmth, brightness, and abundant growth - holds a unique place in this holistic framework.

Energetic Qualities of Summer:

Summer is aligned with the Fire element in TCM, representing maximum Yang energy. This season is characterized by expansive, outward-moving energy, akin to the growth seen in nature during this time. The energy of fire and the warmth of summer correspond to qualities of light, warmth, and activity. This is mirrored in nature by longer days, stronger sunlight, and flourishing of plants, crops, and gardens. Just as plants reach their peak growth and vitality, humans are encouraged to harness this vibrant energy for creativity, joy, fulfillment, and manifestation. Emotionally, summer is linked to joy and the expression of one's fullest potential. This is an excellent time to set deep intentions and goals, that will come to fruition in the fall and early winter.

Organ Systems and Meridians:

In TCM, each season is associated with specific organ systems and meridians that are most active and vulnerable during that time. During summer, the heart and small intestine are the organs most active in TCM. The heart is considered the ruler of all organs in TCM, governing not only physical processes but also the Shen (spirit), emotions, and mental clarity. It houses our intuitive consciousness, reflecting our ability to express joy and establish meaningful connections with others. Physiologically, the heart regulates blood circulation and ensures the smooth flow of Qi (vital energy) throughout the body. The small intestine plays a crucial role in TCM by separating the pure from the impure, both in digestion and in thought processes. It is responsible for absorbing nutrients and fluids from food and fluids, while also discerning clarity in decision-making and processing information. During summer, this organ's function is to ensure that we absorb what is beneficial and eliminate what is unnecessary.

Emotional and Psychological Aspects:

Emotionally, summer is associated with joy, laughter, and the expression of one's fullest potential. It's a time when people are encouraged to be outgoing, engage in social activities, and nurture meaningful relationships. However, excessive excitement can strain the heart's energy, leading to symptoms such as restlessness, insomnia, or palpitations. Thus, maintaining emotional balance is essential during this season.

Health Recommendations for Summer in TCM:

To harmonize with the energetic qualities of summer and support overall health, TCM offers several recommendations:

1. Dietary Adjustments: In TCM, foods are categorized by their energetic properties (cooling, warming, neutral) rather than their nutritional content alone. During summer, it is advisable to consume cooling foods that clear heat from the body and promote hydration. Examples include fresh salad greens, cucumbers, watermelon, lemon, and juicy fruits. Avoiding greasy, heavy foods and alcohol helps prevent the accumulation of internal heat.

2. Hydration: Proper hydration is crucial during summer to support the Fire element and prevent dehydration. Drinking water throughout the day, perhaps with added electrolytes, and consuming herbal teas such as chrysanthemum, rooibos, or mint can help cool the body and maintain internal balance.

3. Protecting the Heart: Practices that calm the mind and reduce stress are beneficial for supporting Heart health in summer. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and gentle activities like yoga or Tai Chi can help maintain emotional equilibrium and promote mental clarity.

4. Moderate Exercise: Engaging in moderate exercise that promotes circulation and flexibility without overheating the body is recommended. Activities like swimming, walking, and gentle stretching help maintain physical health while aligning with the energetic qualities of summer.

5. Maintaining Sleep Patterns: With longer daylight hours, maintaining a regular sleep schedule becomes essential. Proper rest allows the body and mind to rejuvenate, supporting overall well-being.

Common Imbalances and Remedies:

During summer, imbalances may manifest as excessive heat, irritability, insomnia, skin eruptions, or digestive issues. TCM treatments for these conditions may include:

• Acupuncture: To rebalance energy flow and harmonize the organ systems.

• Herbal Medicine: Prescribed to clear heat, promote digestion, and support organ function.

• Dietary Adjustments: Emphasizing cooling foods and reducing spicy or greasy foods that generate internal heat.

• Lifestyle Modifications: Stress management, adequate hydration, appropriate physical activity, leisure time and play.

Philosophical Insights:

Beyond its physiological aspects, the season of summer in TCM embodies broader philosophical principles. It encourages individuals to align with the natural rhythms of the seasons, fostering a deeper connection to the cycles of life and the inter-connectedness of all living beings. By respecting and harmonizing with nature, individuals can cultivate a sense of balance and well-being that extends beyond physical health to encompass emotional and spiritual vitality.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, summer is a season of vitality, growth, and expression. By understanding the energetic qualities associated with summer - such as the Fire element, the roles of the heart and small intestine, and the importance of emotional balance - we can optimize our health and well-being. Through dietary adjustments, hydration, stress management, and appropriate physical activity, individuals can harmonize with the natural rhythms of summer and cultivate a sense of vitality, and joy. Ultimately, embracing the teachings of TCM allows us to live in harmony with ourselves, each other, and the natural world, promoting holistic health and a balanced life.

Paul Gaucher is the owner of Vitality Acupuncture & Wellness Centre, located at 126B 11 Ave. N, in Creston, B.C. For more information or to book an appointment, please call the clinic at 250-254-4811, e-mail crestonvitality@gmail.com, or check out his website at www.crestonvitality.ca.