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Living in Harmony with the Seasons: 

Chinese medicine places a lot of emphasis on living harmoniously with nature. Here's a look at what that means in Summer. 

by Ki Ennes

Summer is the favorite season of so many people. It’s easy to understand why. The days are warm and long. The trees are in full leaf and the flowers are in full bloom. Farmer’s markets offer an array of colorful, fresh produce. There are graduations, parties, and vacations at the beach. Life moves outdoors. 

Now we shift from the burst and growth of Spring to the full expression of ourselves in Summer and the Fire element. Communication, contact, joy, and social interaction are some of the gifts of the Fire element. 

The organs that correspond to the Fire element are the Heart, Small Intestine, Triple Heater, and Heart Mediator, also known as the Pericardium. We all know the heart circulates blood throughout our bodies. In Chinese medicine, the heart is also the mental and emotional center of the body. It’s no surprise that mental and emotional distress can have a profound negative effect on the heart.

To live in harmony with Summer and support your heart and the other organs of the Fire element, try the following:

  • Meals should be light and bright.                                                                   

  • Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Make your plate as colorful as you can.     

  • In hot weather eat more cooling foods such as salads, watermelons, lemons and limes.            Add something spicy to your meals such as hot peppers. The benefit is the opening of the pores and venting of heat from the body.                           

  • Avoid heavy, slow cooked foods.                                                                       

  • Avoid excessive iced drinks and frozen desserts. The cold shuts down the stomach and weakens digestion.                                                                   

  • Support the mental and emotional aspects of the heart by practicing present awareness. Anything that focuses presence such as prayer, meditation, or singing, will calm and strengthen the heart. 

Heart-healthy summer tea recipe:                                                                                                  

Boil a tablespoon of fresh grated ginger root in 2-3 quarts of water.                       

Remove from heat and add ¾ cup sugar or other sweetener.                       

Steep 1 ½ cups Hibiscus flowers approximately 10 minutes.                         

Strain tea. Let cool. Add juice from 1 lime. Serve chilled.

Reference- Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, 3rd Edition, Berkeley, North Atlantic Books, 2003.

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