Ayurveda and Chinese medicine have a lot in common, as Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon notes in one of his article. Recently, I started working with a great Chinese herbalist and acupuncturist, Klara Kadar to resolve my PCOS issues. The last sonogram showed no cysts at all so we are definitely moving in the right direction and the herbs are doing its job! Wanting to learn more about Chinese medicine and its application to daily life, I asked Klara to share some guidelines on how to stay healthy during the hot summer. Klara generously wrote up a very detailed article! Enjoy!
Summer Wellness Guide – Stay Cool!
Summer solstice is here (June 21st) and the wonderful vibrancy of the Sun is extending into longer days. This upsurgence of light and energy is blooming flowers and ripening fruit as we relish in the wonderful colors, smells and tastes that it brings!
In Chinese Medicine the season of summer corresponds to Fire and the culmination of most Yang energy. This idea stems from the theories of the Five Elements and Yin & Yang, which explain the movement of life and energy within nature. With summer come growth, light, expansion, and the true essence of the Fire element pouring into everything as Love and Joy. The warmth of this love from Fire helps everything flow, we are more relaxed and open and the exchange of ideas and feelings becomes easier. With the long days we can spend time together, enjoying our relationships with family and friends, sharing our joy over barbeques and walks in the park.
Fire represents the Heart, and in Chinese medicine this relates not only to the organ but the concept of the heart as well. Though it governs the blood vessels and regulates circulation, the Heart also controls consciousness, sleep, memory, and houses the mind and spirit. A harmonious heart gives us Clarity of mind, and the ability to see through our problems and derive solutions. Other associations with the Fire element are the emotion of Joy, the sound of laughter, the taste of bitterness, and the color red.
The heat of summer can be enlivening but excess temperatures or overexposure can cause damage to the body fluids and Qi energy. Symptoms of such summer heat are profuse sweating, a dry mouth and throat, dark urine, weakness, fever, constipation, and palpitations.
On overly hot days you can help preserve your body’s energy and fluids by consuming a variety of cooling fresh foods such as:
- lemons and limes
- teas of chrysanthemum, chamomile, and mint
In Chinese medicine we look at the five elements in relation to nutrition, to create a framework for making the best food choices for each individual as well as during a given season. As summer is the season of the Fire element, our focus goes to bitter foods and their therapeutic actions of cooling, and the descending of energy in order to balance the heat and upward movement of summer.
Some bitter foods to incorporate this summer are:
- Romaine lettuce
- Bitter melon
- White pepper
Although it seems like the best relief on a scorching day, having lots of iced drinks and ice cream interferes with digestion (cold causes the stomach to contract) and so protecting the body from too much cold is important. What will actually make you feel better is drinking hot liquids and teas because they’ll help you sweat, and sweating is essential for our body to cool down. We all know how beneficial drinking water is, and all the more crucial on hot days to keep dehydration at bay.
Eating heavy foods on hot days will cause sluggishness so it’s a good idea to avoid or have little of:
- greasy and fried foods
- red meats
- excess of nuts and seeds
Healthy Summer Skin
Summertime may aggravate certain skin sufferers of rocasea, eczema, and psoriasis because these issues are all considered heat conditions in Chinese Medicine. In these cases, it’s important to be all the more mindful of diet and nutrition. Since all are inflammatory conditions, limiting spicy and greasy foods, sugary foods and sweets, red meats, alcohol, and shellfish is helpful as these can be aggravating.
Chlorophyll rich foods provide endless anti-inflammatory benefits for the skin and internally because of their cooling, calming quality so make sure you eat lots of leafy greens! If you think you’re not getting enough, there are some wonderful supplements that you can take such as liquid chlorophyll drops, wild blue green algae, spirulina, or cereal grasses like wheat and barley grass.
Klara Kadar is a New York State Licensed Acupuncturist and a Diplomat in Oriental Medicine (acupuncture and herbal medicine) certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Klara graduated from the prestigious Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in New York City, a full-time four-year graduate school renowned for its intensive program, where she earned a Master’s of Science degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine (MSTOM). Her rigorous training focused on the incorporation of both Eastern and Western medical paradigms for the treatment of illness in order to achieve optimum health. To learn more about Klara’s practice go to her website.