Tips to Ease Your Transition to Summer

Chinese medicine is based on Taoism, a philosophy based on the observation of nature. As humans, we are at Mother Nature’s mercy, particularly the cycle of the seasons. We are at our best health and vitality when we flow with these cycles, as Taoists have done for thousands of years.

We typically think of four seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring. Another major Chinese medical paradigm is the Theory of the 5 Elements, which are associated with the seasons. Summer is Fire, Fall is Metal, Winter is Water and Spring is Wood.

Chinese medicine recognizes one additional season, the “doyo,” or the season between the seasons, related to the element Earth. The doyo occurs in the Spring and late Summer/early Fall, when temperature and weather are fluctuating before completely turning to the next season. This is a common time for people to fall ill.

With the solstice on June 22, we officially enter Summer, our brightest time of year, both physically and emotionally. In Chinese medicine, Summer is associated with the element Fire, the color red, the bitter flavor (including leafy greens, coffee, and chocolate), the Heart, Pericardium and Small Intestine organ meridian systems and with embracing our dreams, joyful emotions, creativity, passion and love, even our sexuality.

The Pacific Northwest is heavily affected by the seasons, especially by the waxing and waning of the light. Some might even call our seasonal light extremes “bipolar” or manic depressive.

Summer is the joyful, sometimes manic, season, when the sun hits us and inspires our passion and creativity. The Fremont Summer Solstice parade is a perfect example of this energy! Channel this energy into healthy activities while enjoying our long days by playing outside, outdoor sports, travelling, cooking, barbecues, outdoor festivals and concerts, and creating art.

Common Summer ailments include rashes and constipation due to heat, halitosis (bad breath), seasonal allergies, insomnia — often due to our long PNW summer days, mania, anxiety, or despair.

Through Union Center for Healing, we have Chinese herbal formulas available for all of these conditions, as well as, for traveling as Summer is a popular time for long vacations.

Coconut and aloe are excellent cooling foods and topical treatments for hot conditions, like rashes, constipation and sunburn. Staying hydrated with plenty of healthy fluids like water and herbal teas can help treat or prevent halitosis.

In Summer, I make a cold herbal tea of rooibos, rosehips, and hibiscus, sweetened with local honey. You can find these in bulk in the herb and spice departments of PCC and Central Coop. Mint tea can be especially refreshing during the Summer months. Peppermint is more cooling, while spearmint is more warming.

Raw and cold foods are better tolerated in Summer, so dig in to those salads and cooling fresh fruit smoothies. As with everything, moderation is key as too much raw food and fruit can weaken digestion.

My Favorite Smoothie Recipe
1 Cups non dairy milk (coconut, almond, rice, hemp)
1 banana or ½ avocado
½ Cup fresh or frozen fruit (berries, peaches, etc…)
½ Cup fresh greens (optional)
½ inch of ginger root, peeled (optional, especially if have weak digestion or run cold)

Add some supplements, such as protein powder, flax seed oil, bee pollen, powdered greens, and other powdered supplements like probiotics and maca root. I like to open the capsules and pour in the powder of some of my benign tasting supplements.

Enjoy!
Holly C. Berman, EAMP, MSOM