Summer Is The Best Medicine

It’s officially summer! Summer is the time to go crazy and act like a kid for a couple of months (or at least kid with a mask, gloves, goggles and a bottle of hand sanitizer). Here are some suggestions (which may or may not be things that I have done in summers past):

  • Go skinny dipping in your mean neighbor’s pool without asking (1993)
  • Stop traffic on a main road while wearing a siren hat and tell people who are screaming at you that the fire department is coming (1997)
  • Try fishing and fall in the only hole in the dock and cut your leg on a rusty nail, at the same time casting the line (without actually knowing how to do it) and accidentally catch your cousin’s head with the hook ripping off part of his scalp (1989)

In all seriousness, find ways to enjoy the summer. Get outdoors and be free. Our heart and souls definitely need it this year more than most.

Summer and Traditional Chinese Medicine

June 21st is the Summer Solstice and is considered the most Yang day of the year in Chinese Medicine. Yang energy sparks fire, joy and fun. Fire and fun – that’s summer Chinese medicine style. This year we can all use a lot of Yang! Think watermelon, lemons, corn and of course an icy cold corona. Long nights, cool mornings and abundance of outdoor activities. The organ most associated with summer is the heart. When the heart is out of balance we have insomnia (check), palpitations (check), irritability (check, check), anxiety (check), restlessness (check) and depression (check). If you’re thinking, “hey that’s been me for the last three months!” you are definitely not alone. Luckily, the emotion most associated with summer in Chinese medicine is joy. Joy! Bring it on. Summer also is the best time in Chinese medicine for acupuncture and herbs to work on your Yang Qi and blood. Acupuncture strengthens your system and brings joy to everyone. As I always say, balance in life is really important, so in the summer you also need to take care of your Yin energy. To nourish your Yin, wake up early and enjoy the cool morning, take naps, and at night make your bedroom very dark so your sleep is restful.

Summer Foods

This summer enjoy the deliciousness that is summer fruit and vegetables! Go to your neighborhood farmer’s market and buy what is fresh and in season to create new recipes that wake up your palate. Watermelon (my personal favorite), blueberries, pineapple, melons, cucumbers, salads and green tea build your Yin and hydrate your body. Try to avoid hot, dry or spicy foods, such as coffee.

I can’t say this enough - hydrate hydrate hydrate! Excessive sweating during the summer can damage your heart Yin. My rule of thumb is, drink until you feel like you’ve had enough and then drink some more.

Other tips

Be careful with your air conditioning use. When most of us worked in office buildings we would all complain that we were freezing. Now that a lot of us are working at home (except for me of course) make sure to carefully control the temperature in your home environment. Use the air conditioning when needed but don’t sleep with the air conditioning blowing directly on you. Make sure to get outside for some fresh air every day and keep your home free from dust and outside allergens. When your heart is imbalanced, anger is the result. The heat of summer can create even more heat which leads to more intense anger. Especially with everything going on in the world right now, do your best to be patient, compassionate and love one another. Appreciate the little pleasures in life. Stay calm, love your neighbors and know the future can only get better. Love, Your Acupuncturist Gabriel Sher, L.Ac.