Happy Summer Solstice!


Greetings from Branches of Wellness Acupuncture!

We hope you are enjoying Spring into Summer, full of family and friends festivities! Now that is has been about four months since we moved the Arroyo Grande office to San Luis Obispo, we are feeling good about the office space and would love to see you! The transitional season changes are always a good time to evaluate how you are feeling in your mind and body. The lovely traditional Chinese medicine honors our body connections to nature and we want to share this wisdom with you!

Summer solstice on June 21 marks the beginning of the season of abundance. Through the lens of Chinese Medicine, it is the most yang day of the year–the apex of summer. It’s time to enjoy crisp watermelon slices, herbal teas and other foods to soothe and aid in cooling the body. With the many hours of daylight, the energy and bounty of summer is the ideal time for socializing, nurturing creative projects, and making time for exercise outside. Observing the cycles of nature can provide a dynamic reflection of our own health. Engaging with the environment’s seasonal transitions is an insightful way to get in tune with ourselves and the world. Chinese Medicine believes that when treating disharmonies in the body, there is greater benefit in a seasonal approach. Treatments may vary based on time of year because the body is affected by, and a reflection of, the environment around us.

The Season of the Heart and the Fire Element

Organ: the organ associated with summer is the Heart. The Heart is
the emperor of the human body, it governs blood and is responsible
for the Shen (Mind)
Element: Fire
Emotion: Joy
Taste: Bitter
Opens to: Tongue
Color: Red

Holistic Treatments

Summer is a great time to continue or start Chinese medicine treatments that are uplifting or tonifying for yang, qi, and blood. It is also a time when heat and fire patterns can be suffered in a more aggressive presentation. When the Heart is in balance, it is a kind leader but out of balance, people may experience:

Red complexion
Excessive sweating
Irritability, anxiety, restlessness
Depression (too little joy) or mania (excess joy)
Speech problems: Excessive talking, inappropriate laughter, rapid
speech, aphasia, stuttering

Summer Nutrition

As an age-old health model, Chinese medicine is generally not supportive of fad diets and health trends. Luckily for the foodies, it’s a medicine (and culture) that loves food and regular eating habits. According to Joerg Kastner in his book Chinese Nutrition Therapy, the heat of summer “feeds on body fluids and harms yin. It is recommended to take in predominantly cooling, yin foods to disperse heat and build up body fluids. The bitter flavor corresponds to the fire phase, and mostly bitter–cool as well as bitter–cold foods in moderation should be consumed during the hot season.” In general, choose lighter foods to avoid indigestion (per the Heart’s relationship to the Small Intestine).

Diet suggestions for summer include:

Fruit: Apple, lemon, kiwi, watermelon, orange, pear, pineapple,
Cooling foods: Cucumber, Belgian endive hearts, Romaine, spinach,
tomato, salads, yogurt, wheat, barley, fish, rabbit, mint, dill, cilantro
Drinks: Lots of water, watermelon juice, green tea (it disperses
summer heat and can expel toxins, cool the heart fire, calm the
mind, remove heat from liver and gallbladder, and relieve stomach
and lung.)
Combos: Mint and Chrysanthemum both aid in cooling the body and
skin and also mildly supports liver function. If you are feeling
adventurous, you could combine these as a tea and add a pinch of
honeysuckle to create a wonderful floral tea to keep you cool.
Avoid: Hot and dry foods such as coffee, excessively spicy foods, ice
cold foods like ice cream since they cause the digestive system to
slow down

As late summer and autumn approach, this would be an appropriate time to make seasonal diet changes and support our bodies with a cleanse.

Summer Self Care Practices

On the Central Coast, we experience a later summer at the beaches than most of North America, but the general cycles of nature still sustain. To optimize your health during the next three months, remember that this is a time for growth and expansion. Allow yourself to stay out a little later, socialize with people who bring you joy, make time to play, experience life and go on an adventure or two but be sure to balance it with plenty of water, downtime, and relaxation.

Wake up earlier in the morning
Rest at midday
Go to bed later
Seek water to balance the Fire element: cool baths and showers,
Seek activities that bring you joy and put you in a state of flow
Nourish creative projects
Find time to play like you did as a child

Info taken from American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, San Francisco, CA

Peace and good health,
Jenny Frost L.Ac.