By Kate Downes, Licensed Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner
Summer wellness isn’t just about wearing sunscreen and drinking those eight glasses of water each day. It’s about learning to live in harmony with the season and the feisty element of fire.
Traditional Chinese Medicine offers plenty of sage advice when it comes to living in harmony with the summer season. Read on to learn more about the fire element and how to use TCM to inspire your self-care rituals this summer!
TCM and Summer: Exploring the Fire Element
Before we dive into our TCM tips to manage summer woes, let’s look at some of the basic qualities of summer through the eyes of TCM.
☀️Summer is yang.
Of all the five seasons in Chinese medicine (yes, five!), summer is the most yang. That means both nature and our bodies are at their pinnacle of warmth and activity. Yin (cold, dark, nourishing) energy is at its lowest during this time.
❤️The organs of summer and the fire element are the Heart and Small Intestine.
The Heart and Small Intestine are our fire element organs. As such, they are more vulnerable to imbalances during the summer season.
😄The emotion of summer and fire is joy.
When fire is in balance, we feel joyful and connected to others. When fire is too excessive, joy may transmute into anger or mania. When fire is weak, we may feel empty, depressed. or hopeless.
🔴The fire element is red.
When you see redness on the skin or tongue, it’s usually a sign of too much heat or fire.
What do you think of when you think of fire? For many people, the first thing that comes to mind is destruction. But fire isn’t all bad! In fact, fire is sometimes necessary to transform and renew. For instance, in TCM, we need the fire element to invigorate our digestive system and transform food into usable nutrients. Balanced fire energy also gives us the ability to experience joy, drive, motivation, and love.
The trouble happens when fire gets out of control. In nature, we see this as deadly forest fires or scorched deserts that can’t sustain life. In the body, fire issues erupt to wreak havoc on both our physical and mental health.
Below are some of the most common issues that arise in summer and our top TCM-inspired products to restore your balance.
Summer & Physical Wellness
Most common issues: Inflammatory skin issues, blemishes, IBS, heartburn, and UTIs.
In TCM, skin conditions often have excessive heat at the root. So, it’s no surprise that skin issues tend to develop or worsen in the hottest months of the year. Not to mention, all the extra time you’re likely spending outside puts you at risk of sun damage and inflammation. Yikes!
Along with heat, dampness is also common in summer. When heat and dampness combine, you’ll be facing more breakouts, rashes, or flares in eczema or psoriasis.
Summer’s heat can also cause issues internally, especially in the digestive system. In TCM, the Small Intestine is considered a “fire” organ and is responsible for proper digestion and assimilation of the nutrients we get from our food. When there’s too much heat in the Small Intestine, we can experience a range of digestive issues like heartburn, IBS, diarrhea, and bloating.
Cool the heat with…
Earthwise Beauty Chrysanthemum Herbal Tea
Chrysanthemum is one of the most prized therapeutic herbs in Chinese Medicine. It has a light and cooling nature that helps cool heat and inflammation in the skin and throughout the body.
Internally, drinking slightly chilled chrysanthemum tea helps cool and soothe the digestive system to quell heartburn and indigestion. It’s also a great way to balance and hydrate your skin from the inside out in summer. One of our favorite tips is to put the cooled chrysanthemum tea in a small spray bottle and spritz on your face throughout the day.
Protect and soothe with…
AKT Therapy Elemental Sun Balm
This sun balm evens your skin tone, moisturizes without clogging pores, and even protects against UV rays. What more could you want in a summer skincare product?! To soothe hot and angry skin, apply this balm after jade rolling or doing facial gua sha with a chilled tool.
Summer & Mental and Emotional Wellness
Most common issues: Restlessness, insomnia, anxiety, and irritability.
The Heart is the main organ of summer. While we know the Heart has the all-important function of keeping our blood flowing to all our other organ systems, the Heart has additional functions in TCM.
One of the most critical functions of the Heart is “house the shen.” Shen is a term unique to Chinese medicine, but you can think of it as the essence of you – your mind and spirit. The Heart must be properly nourished with a healthy balance of yin to keep your shen calm.
Since summer is the most yang time of year, this excessive hot and active energy overwhelms the body’s yin, which leads to too much heat in the Heart. As a result, the shen becomes agitated and cannot “retreat” into the Heart. We’re left feeling anxious and unable to sleep.
Restore your calm with…
Five Seasons Lullaby Calming TCM Tonic Bags
Lullaby Calming TCM Tonic Bags are made with a harmonious balance of Chinese herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the mind. Make this tonic to sip throughout the day if you struggle with anxiety and nervous tension. If you’ve been having trouble getting a restful night’s sleep this summer, use this as your bedtime tonic. Drink a cup about an hour before bed each night to restore your Heart’s yin-yang balance so you can fall asleep soundly.
Balance yin with…
Midnight Melody Body & Hair Oil
If summer’s heat is making your Heart restless and drying out your hair and skin, this one's for you. Our signature Midnight Melody Body & Hair oil combines dreamy yet grounding botanicals to help you infuse your evening self-care routine with extra calmness.
Rub a small amount into your scalp and any areas of dry skin. Then, to give your self-care ritual a TCM twist, massage a few calming acupoints with the body & hair oil (or try our perfume oil). Start with Taiyang on the temples, followed by Ren 17 on the chest, then finish with the grounding point Kidney 1 on the soles of your feet. Lay back and enjoy drifting off to sleep while your hair and skin soak in the healing hydration.
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