Summer Wellness Tips

“Ô, Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on Earth.”

~ Roman Payne

SUMMER SOLSTICE

For most of us, summer is synonymous with sunshine, beaches, balmy nights, fireflies, outdoor dining, and barbeques.  School is out, sandals are in, and whether you have vacation plans or not, summer is a time of exuberance and glory.
夏至 - Xia Zhi,Summer Solstice, is the 10th out of the 24 seasonal points in the year.   It is the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.  While summer solstice heralds the first day of summer in western culture,  east Asian culture views summer solstice as the peak of Yang energy.   After summer solstice, we slowly transit to shorter days and focus more on Yin. ⁠

SUMMER ACCORDING TO CHINESE MEDICINE 

Summer belongs to the fire element which manifests in the heart, small intestines, and pericardium in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory.  While spring signals the beginning of birth and growth, summer fosters this growth to mature and reach its full potential.


Fire represents a radiant, life-sustaining energy and is emotionally related to joy.  When your fire is balanced, you feel a warm and joyous energy during summer.  

A well-tended fire allows you to blossom and illuminate.  However when you are out-of-sync with the energy of summer, this fire can take a wrong turn. 

Too little or too much fire can manifest as depleted energy, anger, dehydration, disturbed spirits, increased infections, anxiety, heart palpitations, and sleeplessness.

Some skin ailments will tend to peak during the warmer seasons; heat rash, sunburns, folliculitis, yeast infections, eczema, and hyper-pigmentation are among some of the common ones.

The ancient Chinese observed and noted this seasonal phenomenon. They developed practical methods to counteract the negative effects of this seasonal transition.  Some TCM doctors treat “winter diseases” during summer to take advantage of the abundant Yang energy. Winter diseases include asthma, sensitivity to cold, cold womb, and yang deficiency, which are all most typically experienced in the colder months.⁠

⁠To stay healthy this season, make sure to stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and pursue activities that cultivate joy. ⁠

⁠SUMMER YANG SHENG TIPS

1. SLEEP IN A DARK SPACE

If your drapery in your bedroom is inadequate, consider a pair of silk eyeshades.  We recommend taking a short nap in the afternoons (see our recent post on 子午觉 midnight-midday-sleep ). Naps are great for restoring your energy during the hotter months of the year.⁠

2. WATCH OUT FOR EXCESSIVE SWEATING

Sweat belongs to the fluids of the Heart according to Chinese Medicine and excessive sweating damages your Heart yin. How does this damage manifest? Other than dehydration, you might start feeling restless and have trouble getting a full night's rest. Workout to a mild sweat and make sure to hydrate adequately.

3. EAT LIGHT

This is the season to indulge in summer crops. Cool off from summer heat with melons and stone fruit that are packed with flavors and juice.  If you have excessive heat going on (thirst, irritability), it might be a good idea to add bitter-tasting vegetables such as arugula, watercress, and bitter melon to your diet.   Try a cucumber and herb sandwich to keep things light and fresh.  

Balance off by adding foods that also invigorate your earth energy and Spleen: shan yao (Chinese yam), ginger, millet, rice, peanuts, adzuki beans, barley, lotus root, mushrooms, asparagus, bok choy, and perilla leaves. ⁠

4. AVOID DRAFTS AND REDUCE USE OF AC

As much as the cool air feels so refreshing on a hot and muggy day, prolonged exposure to air-conditioning can lead to headaches, dry skin, respiratory issues and general malaise.  If you are often indoors, ensure your carpeting and drapery is clean, and invite plenty of fresh air into the room.  

5. REFRAIN FROM ANGER

Anger generates more heat, instead take the opportunity to cultivate mindfulness and compassion towards yourself and others. If you encounter a situation where you’re likely to blow up when speaking up, say nothing at all. “Silence is sometimes the best answer.” - Dalai Lama.  If mindfulness is not enough, try these 11 methods to deal with anger.


SUMMER FOODS TO EAT

In China it’s customary to celebrate summer with cooling foods such as cold noodles, wontons, rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves and dishes made with summer produce such as lotus root, watermelon radishes, bitter melons, celery, plums, cucumbers, enoki mushrooms, wild rice, string beans, jicama, water chestnuts, and aromatic herbs.

COOLING TEAS FOR SUMMER

Here are some of our favorite teas to invigorate your heart and spirits this summer:

Add a small handful of herbs as needed in hot water, steep for 5 minutes, take a deep breath, enjoy!

Lotus Leaf:
Helps to alleviate restlessness and relief summer heat.
 
Tulsi

A sweet, aromatic herb that helps to reduce anxiety, insomnia and supports the immune system.

Mint + Licorice Root
Promotes digestion, soothes sore throats.  

Ginger + Lime
For those with colder constitution (i.e., cold hands and feet/poor digestion/ loose stools), this is a balancing tisane to ease bloating, stimulate appetite and improve circulation.

*Sweeten with a bit of raw honey or monkfruit if desired.

MUNG BEAN SOUP

We love mung beans as a simple medicinal food to quell summer heat.  It’s packed with nutrients, great for detoxification, inexpensive, easy to find and make.  Here are two versions, savory and sweet.  Ensure mung beans are soaked at least 6-8 hours prior to cooking, overnight is best. Usually 1 cup of bean to 3 cups of water is a good ratio for soaking. Be sure to discard the soaking water and cook with fresh water for both recipes.

SAVORY MUNG BEAN SOUP

(Serves 3-4)
INGREDIENTS
Mung Beans (Soaked) 1 cup
Ghee 1 tbsp
Cumin 1 tsp
Ginger 1-2 slices
Tumeric ¼ tsp (1 pinch)
Sea Salt 1 tsp (to taste)
Water 6 Cups
Vegetables
(add your favorite)
Optional
Directions:
Heat stockpot on medium high. Combine ghee, cumin, and ginger and heat till fragrant. Add soaked beans, water, and a pinch of turmeric to the stockpot, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until beans are soft.  

Add your favorite vegetables such as chopped kale, spinach, and carrots, continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.  For a richer flavor, use vegetable or chicken stock.


SWEET MUNG BEAN SOUP

(Serves 3-4)

INGREDIENTS
Mung Beans (Soaked) 1 cup
Lotus Seeds (Soaked) ¼ cup
Water 6 cups
Sucanat/ Coconut Sugar/ Monkfruit sugar 2 tbsp (to taste)
Directions:

In addition to mung beans, this sweet recipe also calls for soaked lotus seeds.  The ratio of lotus seeds to mung beans should be 1:4.  Be sure to remove the center sprout from lotus seeds after soaking, otherwise you will be eating bitter soup.

Place mung beans, lotus seeds, and water into a stockpot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes or until beans are soft.  Add sugar to taste, we prefer sucanat or coconut sugar for the minerals and micronutrients.  

Chilled sweet mung bean soup is super delicious on a hot summer day.  Soup will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.

If you have a cold constitution, stick to the savory version.

 

Legal Disclaimer
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 

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