Written by Nicolette Truscott (Acupuncturist/ Chinese Medicine Practitioner
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) thinking, summer is a predominantly yang time of year. The energies of this season are outward and expansive; the pinnacle of growth and abundance. It is a time where we are manifesting what was cultivated in spring. It is a time of expansion- the days are getting longer, the light brighter, the bounty bigger and the temperatures higher.
In the five element or wǔxíng cycle, the season is associated with fire. The associated colour is red, the organ system of the heart and the emotion is joy. It is a time of year where there is an increased tendency to socialise, get out and about and enjoy the abundance provided. A time to instil our actions with joy, fun, playfulness and community to balance our hearts with passion and laughter.
It is also a time of year in Australia where things can get uncomfortably hot! Already this year in other states, we have seen a heat wave with record high temperatures for November, and with the ‘la nina’ cycle this year things may get a little unpredictable!
Nutritionally there are many foods that come into season around this time that are beneficial for the body to help cool and regulate our own temperatures and take the edge off the heat. In general, TCM does not advocate a large amount of raw and cooling foods into the diet as this is seen to dampen the natural digestion process, akin to a cooking pot. However, this is the time of year that most of us can safely increase our intake of raw foods and salads during this time provided our digestion system is strong.
Watermelon can be particularly helpful during this time. Watermelon (xi gua) is found in the TCM Materia medica under ‘herbs that clear heat’. It can help hydrate and cool the body, which in turn can relieve associated irritability and facilitate urination. Watermelon is approximately 90% water and also contains many beneficial nutrients such as vitamins A and C as well as carotenoids, antioxidants and is high in electrolytes to assist in replenishing the body’s loss after sweating. In the Essentials of the Materia Medica it was also mentioned that is aids in ‘restoring sobriety’ after overconsumption of alcohol, which makes it the perfect Australian summer festive fruit.
More beneficial foods for the summer:
Oranges, pears, apple, lemon, melons, pineapple, passionfruit, mango, strawberries
Cucumbers, green leafy vegetables, Asian greens, seaweed, alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes
Other Summer time tips:
Drink pure water: To balance an abundance of fire we require water, in this case literally! Try to stay away from sugary and highly caffeinated drinks, as these have a tendency to dehydrate the body and pull water where it is not so needed. If plain water seems unappealing to you, try your water with a dash of lemon or some mint to give it more depth and flavour.
Cooling herbal teas to try: Peppermint tea, Green tea, Chrysanthemum tea and Dandelion root are all good options for clearing heat and cooling the body and taste delicious both hot and chilled.
Avoid hot foods: such as coffee, alcohol, spice, deep fried, excess sugar. Excess of these things are generally no good for you, but in the summer heat these can be more harmful.
Wishing you all a safe, happy and comfortably cool festive season. Nicolette x
If you would like to book an appointment with Nicolette you can call the clinic on (03) 5429 3610 or book online by clicking the link below.
Bensky, D., Clavey, S., & Stöger, E. (2004). Chinese herbal medicine: Materia medica. Seattle, WA: Eastland Press.
Pitchford, P. (2002). Healing with whole foods: Asian traditions and modern nutrition. 3rd ed., rev., updated, and expanded. Berkeley, Calif.: North Atlantic Books.