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Traditional Chinese Medicine Basics: Taking Advantage Of Summer

by Dr. Hua Bing Wen: In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is believed that all things are formed of two opposing forces: Yin and Yang.

Chinese Medicine

Yin (the cold, solid, and congealing aspect), and Yang (the hot, energetic, formless, active aspect) take expression as, and have profound impact upon the physical world.  The seasons of the year are where we can easily see the energies of Yin and Yang at work.  Yin predominates during the Winter.  On the other hand, the very season we are in the midst of, summer, happens to be the time of the utmost Yang, and is also associated with the element of fire.

During the summer, it’s important that we address the peaking of Yang energy.  We should take advantage of what it has to offer, and protect ourselves from over-exposure.  Both Yang and fire represent an outward energy of growth, spread, advance, and upward movement.  Therefore, summer is when forward movement in life, advancement in careers and relationships, and growth of every kind can be fostered.  By taking advantage of the fire of summer much can be accomplished.

The following are a few things that you can do to both take advantage of, and protect yourself from the fire of summer:

  • It’s ideal to sleep in harmony with the light of the Sun, so rise earlier, and go to sleep a little later; making sure, of course, to get a healthy amount of sleep.
  • Try new activities, or reinvigorate old hobbies, and let the abundant Yang of the Summer give you the energy you need to move forward.  Begin or increase physical activity or exercise.  Get outdoors if you can!
  • Keep calm – control the urge to let the abundant Yang have its way with your emotional state.  Control both excessive Joy and Anger.  Also, don’t get carried away.  Protect yourself from burning out or spreading yourself too thin.
  • Stay well hydrated.  Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink, and if you are active make sure you take in extra fluids to compensate for those you lose.
  • Stay out of the Sun during the peak hours of the day, and make sure you are well protected if you do plan to go out.
  • Add a few foods to your diet to help support your body and your Qi during the summer.  The following foods are used in TCM to clear and drain heat from the body, and/or to generate fluids:  watermelon, lemon, peaches and fruits in general (but especially the watery melons), mung beans, soy, mint, celery, greens (like spinach and cabbage), seaweed, asparagus, lotus seeds, and bamboo.  Pungent foods can also be consumed, as they disperse heat and promote sweating.

With a little care, we can all take advantage of the utmost Yang of summer, and find ourselves empowered to grow and expand our lives in positive and healthy ways.

About the author:  Dr. Hua Bing Wen



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