Having just spent the last few days walking in the sun, eating outside and meeting up with friends and family, it feels like Summer has finally arrived.
In the West summer formally starts on the summer solstice when the sun is the furthest north, this year it’s the 21st of June. But for Five Element Acupuncturists summer actually started on the 5th May, the turning point halfway between the solstices when the sun’s rays hit the earth at 45 degrees. This might seem a bit odd to us modern Westerners but the Gaelic calendar, which is also based on the needs of an agricultural society recognises that Summer starts in May. Good for Irish kids as they get a lovely long holiday from early in July.
So what does the Summer mean for our health?
According to traditional Five Element Chinese medicine, each season is ruled by an element. Summer is associated with the element of Fire and the energy of Heart, Small Intestine, and the tongue. Knowing which element relates to each season can provide knowledge about health at that time and in Summer special attention should be paid to these organs.
When the Fire element is working well within us, the heart is strong and healthy. If not balanced there can be too little joy (depression), or too much (chaos) or inappropriate exuberance. Agitation, nervousness, heartburn, and insomnia are symptoms that a person's Fire is out of balance.
To prevent these problems try the following
- take full advantage of the long summer days. Get up earlier in the morning, go to sleep later at night, and try to rest at midday.
- fluids are very important in summer months so drink plenty of water or fresh watermelon juice which is particularly cooling. Avoid drinks full of sugar and chemicals (like fizzy drinks) as these don't actually relieve thirst, and also inundate the body with more toxins to eventually clear.
- you can add stronger or spicier flavors to your diet at this time of year but avoid indegestion by choosing ligher foods over heavier foods.
- avoid dehydration and sunburn especially for small children and older people as they are
are especially susceptible to these downsides of the heat.
- take cool baths, seek the shade and wear lighter clothing.
Summer really is a great time to focus on changes in life, a time to grow and be more aware of yourself and others. The predominant nature of Summer is Yang and so excitement, assertiveness, and exuberance comes more naturally to us all. Truly a time to be open hearted, to enjoy the weather and each other's company.
If you are not feeling the joy of Summer good acupuncture from a qualified and registered acupuncturist can help. Please get in touch.
Gaynor Hollis is a Classical Five Element Acupuncturist with a thriving practice in Birmingham. She is interested in all things healthy and life style related not just Chinese and Japanese acupuncture.