By July 4, 2022
Do you love summer? Or does the idea of all that hot weather fill you with dread and a need to crank up the AC? In Traditional Chinese medicine, Summer Heat is a combination of heat and damp, and is the reason some people hate the hot weather so much. Symptoms of Summer Heat can include:
- Upset stomach
- Whole body heaviness
- Heaviness in arms and legs
- Oily or red skin
- Thirst with preference for cold drinks
- Inflamed gut
It’s not hard to see how those symptoms could make you long for the days of blizzards and consider moving to the arctic. The good news is that while you may be naturally more prone to Summer Heat, you don’t have to suffer all season. There are steps you can take to balance the heat and damp of the season and alleviate your symptoms:
Avoid excess sweating
Excess sweating exhausts yin energy, which causes fatigue and lack of moisture and nourishment to your muscles. Exercise is still important, but rather than sweating it out in spin class, opt for activities like:
- Brisk walks
- Light jogging
- And gardening
If you’re going to do more vigorous exercise or projects (hello, yard work), then wait for the cooler parts of the day – in the morning, or later in the evening after it’s cooled down.
Eat Cooling Foods
When I say “eat cooling foods,” it’s important to note that I don’t mean cold foods. Cooling is an effect in Traditional Chinese Medicine, rather than an actual temperature. Think mint, rather than popsicles. Some great options are:
- Mint tea
Another great option is (counterintuitively) hot tea – especially mint tea, dandelion root tea, or elderflower tea. Warmer fluids like tea actually dilate your blood vessels, which allows you to shed more excess heat and actually cools your body.
That said, cold drinks and food, like ice cold water can actually make your symptoms worse. Ice cold drinks lower the body temperature while you’re consuming them, but then make the Stomach work harder to produce the heat needed for digestion, which ends up making you hotter and more thirsty, and puts a strain your digestive system which may already be having issues because of Summer Heat.
Of course, sometimes changing your diet and activity isn’t enough to totally balance you out. That’s where acupuncture comes in. The organ systems associated with summer are the Heart and Small Intestine. The heart regulates our mental health, cognitive abilities, and emotions. If you have a deficiency in your heart qi, you might experience:
- Memory loss
- Irregular pulse
- Red complexion
- Lack of motivation
- And dry throat
The small intestine is responsible for digestion and elimination. Signs that it may be out of balance can include:
- Abdominal pain
- Digestion issues
- Loss of appetite/Increased appetite
When these systems get out of balance, sometimes it’s necessary to use acupuncture to restore that balance. Acupuncture is able to redirect the flow of qi (energy) through the body, relieving deficiencies or stagnation to alleviate your symptoms. Better yet, if you know you’re prone to Summer Heat, acupuncture can be used preventatively before you end up suffering.
There are several herbs that can be used to treat Summer Heat, depending on which symptoms you’re experiencing. A common blend is called Qing Luo Yin. It includes:
- Honeysuckle flower – Cools Summer Heat
- Hyacinth Bean – Relieves Summer Heat, removes dampness
- Watermelon – Clears Summer Heat, generates fluids, cools Stomach heat
- Loofah – Unblocks channels, dispels Wind
- Lotus Leaf – Relieves Summer Heat
- Bamboo Leaves and Stem – Clears damp-heat
As always with herbal medicine, it’s important to talk to you provider before starting a regiment. They’ll be able to nail down exactly which herbs or blends will address your symptoms and their underlying causes, as well as ensure that they’re not going to negatively interact with any other medications you’re on, or conditions you have.
Enjoy Your Summer!
If you’ve always hated summer, and feel your worst in the heat and sun, we can help! Through acupuncture, herbal medicine, and dietary changes, we can get your symptoms under control and restore balance to your system.
It’s important to note that Summer Heat is NOT the same as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Even if you’re not prone to Summer Heat, you can still suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke when you’re out in the hot weather and not keeping sufficiently hydrated. Heat stroke is a medical emergency, and you should seek immediate treatment.