As we begin to safely and mindfully reintegrate as a community, health and wellness becomes more important than ever. Chinese medicine can offer us incredible insights into how to cultivate and maintain flourishing well-being. Chinese medicine is a 2,500-year-old medical practice that focuses on preventative medicine through diet and lifestyle recommendations as well as gentle medical interventions in the form of acupuncture, massage, and herbal medicine. There is also a concentration on dietary and lifestyle changes that harmonize with the changing seasons. For each season, we eat different foods, incorporate varying exercises and activities for robust health. The three months of summer are a Yang time, or a time of high metabolic function and activity. Summer is also governed by the element of Fire and are therefore related to the process of ripening and growing. The Fire element in Chinese medicine is associated with the Heart organ, which we reverently call “The Empress” of the body. The Heart is the true leader of the body. In this way, summer is about being heart centered, and whole hearted. As the days get brighter and longer, so does our energy build and expand. Chinese medicine can offer use some guidance for how to blossom during this season.
Eat the Rainbow
In summer there is an abundance of vibrant fresh produce available. It is important in summer to incorporate a rainbow-colored assortment of fruits and vegetables into your diet. From tangy red raspberries, juicy peaches, vibrant leafy greens, crisp melons, hearty crowns of broccoli, and plump tomatoes – just to name a few. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals called flavonoids, which are colorful pigments found in plants that are also powerful antioxidants. There are over 6,000 flavonoids found in fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. The easiest way to increase the amount and variability of flavonoids in your diet is to eat a wide array of colorful plants.
Chinese medicine recommends following the natural pattern of the sun through the seasons. In summer, the sun tells us to rise earlier and get to bed later. The bright summer sun gives us more energy to move our bodies and stay active. Depending on your fitness level, incorporate a morning and evening walk, start a yoga practice, go for a bicycle ride in the sunshine or get into the woods for a hike. Increasing physical activity has been proven to help control weight, reduce your risk of heart disease, manage blood sugar and insulin levels, improve mental health and mood, strengthen bones and muscles and improve sleep as well as many other benefits.
The summer months are about spending time with friends, family and loved ones. It’s a great season to take up new hobbies, learn new things, and engage with your community. In our current social landscape, we must do this safely and responsibly. This may look like a remote yoga class or workshop, FaceTime with friends, or a social-distanced picnic. It is important to remember that we are all in this together, and we can support each other and connect, even if it is in a new and different way.
Rest and Relaxation
Due to all the increased activity and social events in the summer months, it is easy to run ourselves down and swing out of balance. This can make us susceptible to pain, injury and illness. It can be helpful to adopt a meditation practice, get a massage, acupuncture or other wellness modalities to keep your mind, body, and spirit calm for thriving health. Remembering to slow down, breathe and appreciate the moment can be a powerful practice to bring ourselves back into the present and reduce stress, anxiety and burn out.
These are just a few ways to stay strong, healthy and brimming with vitality this summer. Here at Root Whole Body, we are here to support your vibrant health and wellness.
-Melissa Laws, LAc. EAMP -Licensed Acupuncturist and East Asian Medical Practitioner
Melissa has spent over a decade in the health and wellness arena, and is somewhat of a jack of all trades. She is a licensed Acupuncturist and East Asian medical practitioner, licensed herbalist, certified health coach, and yoga instructor. She is passionate about providing the best, most personalized care to her patients and loves to connect, share and grow with each and every one.
Pitchford, Paul, Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition 3rd Ed. North Atlantic Books Berkeley California
Fruehauf, Heiner, The Organ Networks of Chinese Medicine: A reference guide of cosmology, symbolism and diagnostic approaches. Hai Shan Press Portland Oregon