The Fire Element of Summer
Happy June! I hope this month finds you and those you love happy and well. As summer approaches, I wanted to share some tips on staying healthy during the warmer months when yang energy is at its peak, after being nurtured throughout the Spring. In terms of Chinese Medicine, we experience the element of Fire during the summertime. Fire, one of the 5 elements, manifests in the physical sense as the heart, small intestine, pericardium and the San Jiao, which is a meridian/channel that is responsible for fluid metabolism and temperature regulation. The Fire element may become unbalanced which is experienced as physical signs and/or symptoms of either deficiency, such as chills, decreased circulation, irregular menses and urinary dysfunction, or symptoms of excess, such as anxiety, sleep disturbance, burning urination and joint inflammation. On the spiritual level, the Fire element is expressed as joy via laughter, love and compassion. Symptoms of imbalance on this level include extreme shyness and fear of connection to others, or the opposite: incessant and perhaps loud or rambling speech without time for quiet self-reflection or active listening.
A Healthy Fire Element
The ability to interact freely with friends and family, sharing love and compassion with them and yourself signifies a healthy Fire element. Ask yourself if there is happiness, joy and laughter in your life. Do you feel connected to those you love? If the answer is “yes”, then chances are, your Fire element is properly nurtured. If you feel disconnected or not quite where you would like to be, reach out to a good friend or a family member. Share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust. Sometimes just this simple action starts to bring about healing. After all, we are all in this world together. It is this connection to others that strengthens each of us and ultimately, the world.
What About Food?
Nourish your heart and Fire element with green leafy vegetables such as Swiss chard, kale and collard greens. Lightly cook these for optimal digestion. These not only have a cooling function but also contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, magnesium and potassium. Add some red foods such as beets, tomatoes and strawberries, all of which contain powerful antioxidants that promote health. In the heat of summer or if you’ve been experiencing night sweats or feeling overheated in the afternoon or evening, add asparagus, pears or celery to your meal plan. These will help nourish the yin fluid, cooling aspect of your body. Avoid excessive overly spicy food. Avoid iced beverages. Although this seems a bit silly in light of the hot weather, iced beverages impair the spleen and stomach’s ability to digest and metabolize. Room temperature or slightly chilled is preferable. As always, be cautious with your intake of processed food, sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
A Smooth Transition
As the beginning of summer quickly approaches, I hope you will take some time to reflect on what you have accomplished over the past Spring. Now is your time to enjoy life: enjoy your family, friends, the sun, nature and hopefully, some time to enjoy what you would like to do with the next 2 1/2 months. Wishing you health, peace, joy and much happiness until we chat again!