3 min read

"Smell the sea and feel the sky. Let your soul and spirit fly." - Van Morrison 


Summer months bring sunshine, warmer temperatures, and abundant energy. It’s a season where the Yang is very active, and activity is in full bloom. In the Five Element theory in TCM, each of the elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water) relates to a season. Summer is associated with the Fire element, and also the Heart organ system, which performs many energy functions that are vital to the health of your body, mind, and spirit. 

However, when temperatures run too high, excess fire energy can cause what Chinese Medicine terms a “summer heat attack” or heat stroke. If you feel dizzy, flushed, stop sweating, or your pulse is racing, stop all activity, get out of the sun, and seek medical attention right away. 

If you have symptoms like hot flashes, irritability, headaches, excess sweating, insomnia, and digestive issues, some TCM tips can help bring your body back in balance. 

  • Avoid ice (for food and drinks). In the summer heat, it’s really tempting to drink ice-cold beverages to try to cool your system. In Chinese Medicine, ice doesn’t actually help cool the body down, and it only feels satisfying in the moment. 
  • Eating or drinking something ice-cold dampens your digestive system and over-cools your stomach, so your body needs to expend a lot more energy to heat up and digest your food. This can cause feelings of sluggishness, slower digestion, bloating, and a general heaviness - which is probably how you already feel in extreme heat. 

    Instead - drink watermelon juice, make chrysanthemum tea, or put cucumber and/or mint in room temperature water. These wonderful summer remedies are known to actually cool your body down, hydrate and put out excess fire in the body. 

  • Eat cooling foods. While you want to avoid icy food and drink, food in Chinese Medicine has an energetic temperature, and certain foods are cooling. If you already are running hot, you will want to cut down on the stuff that makes you hot! Warming foods like ginger, cinnamon, and garlic increase circulation and heat in the body, and are great for winter, but not great in the summer if are already heated up. Spicy foods also bring on the heat, so go easy on them unless you are really trying to induce a sweat!

  • Add some cooling foods to your plate, like watermelon, apricot, cantaloupe, lemon, peach, orange, asparagus, sprouts, bamboo, bok choy, broccoli, chinese cabbage, corn, cucumber, cilantro, mint, dill, green tea, tofu, and seaweed. Watermelon is such a winner at reducing heat, the white rind can actually be used to reduce fevers. Blend up the red and white parts together to make a smoothie! 

  • Clear heat in the body with an ice pack or cold towel. By strategically applying an ice pack or cold towel on the back of the neck (at acupuncture point DU14) or behind the knees (on acupuncture point UB40), you can effectively cool your entire system down in a few minutes. This is incredibly relaxing, reviving and is a great remedy to cool down burning skin if you stayed out too long in the sun as well.

  • Seek out water. Summer is the season of Fire, and Winter is the season of Water, with cooling properties to help balance out the summer heat. 

  • Drink enough water by carrying a water bottle around with you and sip it throughout the day to ensure you’re hydrated. Swim in a nearby body of water, or take a cool shower or bath at home. Keep a mister with cold water in it to use as a body spray, add a little lavender or sandalwood essential oil to make it even more chill.

  • Avoid the midday sun. Try to schedule your activities to avoid the hottest part of the day, if possible. 11 am to 1 pm is the period of the day when the Qi of the Heart is the fullest, and exercising or overexerting at this time of day can be detrimental.   

  • If you are out in the sun, cover your head and neck to prevent too much heat entering your system from the acupressure point DU14.