The Heart of Summer

Hello summer!! This past Friday, June 21st, marked the official start of summer. We celebrated the summer solstice, where the sun brightens the sky longer than any other day of the year.

Summer is related to the FIRE element and HEART organ. A fundamental principle in traditional Chinese Medicine is the 5 Elements theory. This concept divides energy (Qi) in its natural form, into five qualities. These are structured around natural elements Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. Each element represents an organ, drawing parallels of the interrelated organic energies expressed in our body as in nature. Each element is also uniquely related to a season, color, emotion, taste, climate, tissue, direction, and sound (among many other correspondences). The system of the 5 Elements provides Chinese Medicine practitioners with a framework to understand, diagnose, and treat health imbalances.

Other correspondences of Fire/Heart:

  • Color - Red

  • Emotion - Joy

  • Taste - Bitter

  • Climate - Heat

  • Tissue - Vessels

Summer is the season of abundant energy, long days, and the heat of the sun. Fire represents warmth, transformation and dynamic, sparkling upward movement. It’s symbolic of the greatest Yang, where life reaches the peak of activity - plants bloom, mature, and set fruit. Summer is about growth, regeneration, relationship, activity and creativity.

The Heart organ system is predominant during Summer. It’s main function is to pump oxygenated blood through your body. In TCM, the heart also houses the Shen, which can be translated as "Spirit" or "Mind." Thus, the Heart is not only vital for our physical health, but also for our emotional, mental, and spiritual health. 

When the Fire element is in balance, the Heart is strong and healthy - blood is properly flowing, the mind is calm, sleep is sound, and there is an enthusiasm for life. When the Fire element is imbalanced, a deficiency of Fire can produce lack joy (depression), a feeling of apathy, and listlessness while an excess of Fire can produce excess joy (mania) or hyperexcitability, agitation, and restlessness. Other symptoms of Fire/Heart imbalance include palpitations, irregular sweating, cold limbs, tongue ulcers, dark urine, and insomnia.

This summer, make the time to nourish and pacify your Heart, mind and spirit. Soak in the sun and take advantage of the extra daylight hours to embrace positive change, cultivate joy, and foster relationships. 

Tips for a Healthy and Joyful Summer:

  • Aim for at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise.
    Exercise benefits the heart and circulatory system. Get the heart pumping with a brisk walk or a more intense activity to build a sweat. 

  • Eat cooling foods.
    Such as: watermelon, cantaloupe, citrus, apple, banana, pear, tomato, lettuce, radish, cucumber, celery, white mushrooms, asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet corn, zucchini, sprouts, mung beans, millet, kelp, seaweed, peppermint, cilantro.

  • Eat bitter foods.
    Bitter is the taste associated with the Fire element. Try bitter greens like endive, escarole, dandelion greens, spinach, kale, and Swiss chard.

  • Stay hydrated. 
    Try to drink at least eight 8-oz glasses of water a day. Your body depends on water to survive. Water is crucial to maintaining the function of every system in your body,

  • Engage your senses and spend time in nature. 
    Indulge your senses with the sounds, smells, colors, textures, and tastes of the world around you. 

  • Make social time with friends.
    We all find ourselves busy with work and life admin. But don’t forget to take time for relationships - make a date with an old friend… or a new one!