This article is the first in a special Summer Wellness Series I'm collaborating on with my colleague Erin Wood L.Ac. Next week: my fave recipes for keeping cool in high summer. Subscribe to my blog to get each weekly installment or follow on Instagram #tcmsummerwellness
What is the Summer Energy All About?
Welcome to Summer! The summer season can be divided into two time periods and elements in Chinese Medicine. First comes full summer, the true heat of the season and is associated with the fire element. Full summer transitions into late summer, which is connected with the earth element, which then leads into fall and the metal element.
Challenges we face in the summer are heatwaves, dehydration, sunburn, trouble sleeping, and agitation. We might also experience digestive distress from eating at BBQs and too much ice cream or chilled beverages. Cold and damp foods like ice cream can extinguish the helpful part of the digestive fire. Like anything, we are looking for balance here. We don’t want too much fire and we don’t want too little. We need to cook the food without scorching it. We want some sunshine and Vitamin D, but we don’t want to get sunburned.
Full summer’s fire element is connected with the organs of heart and the small intestine, the color red, the bitter taste, and the emotion of joy. And as in all aspects of life, there can be too much of a good thing, and that too much joy can look like mania. It can also manifest in a milder way as agitation, anxiety, or insomnia. We can also get a natural boost of energy and enthusiasm for new projects and adventures starting in the spring that can carry into the summer.