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Traditional Chinese Medicine

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Are You a Wizard? Summer is Your Time to Shine!

As the seasons change, so does the type of energy that influences the earth. Chinese medicine explains the cycle of the different aspects of the universal energy, or qi, in terms of 5 elements. These 5 elements are Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. Each element is associated with a season and a personality-type that embodies the energy of that element.

The Elements and their associated season and archetype are:

Fire: Summer / The Wizard
Earth: Late Summer or the Transitional Time Between Seasons/ The Peacemaker
Metal: Fall / The Alchemist
Water: Winter / The Philosopher
Wood: Spring / The Pioneer

As we approach summer, the season of the fire element, notice how the energy on earth gets brighter, more expressive. It naturally gets hotter, thanks to the proximity of the great fire in the sky, and it draws people outside and together. There is a sense of vibrancy that is awakened in us during this time.

The Wizard is the embodiment of this energy: colorful, enchanting, expressive, full of enthusiasm and an appetite for life. She is a magnetic speaker. He is an enchanting leader who leads from the heart. They are teachers, visionaries, and they possess magic.


Are you a wizard? Here are some questions to help answer that…

  • Do you believe in Magic?
  • Do you consider yourself intuitive?
  • Are you a natural leader?
  • Do you love to engage an audience (or a few friends)?
  • Do you wear your heart on your sleeve?
  • Do you crave intimacy and passion?
  • Are you energetic/playful?
  • Do others sometimes have difficulty keeping up with you?

If you answered yes to any of these, you have at least a little wizard in you. We all have some features of each elemental energy, some more than others. If you answered yes to all of these, you’re a bright fiery wizard!

As it is the central philosophical foundation of Chinese Medicine, the importance of balance can never be understated. A fire can provide comfort and warmth or it can be disastrous and destructive. Signs of a fire burning too strong are excess perspiration, inability to rest, excessive talking, fast heartbeat, high blood pressure, red face, rashes, cramps, issues with blood circulation and even the actual enlargement of the heart organ itself from overexertion. If this excess fire is not kept in check, it will inevitably lead to burn-out and a complete reversal of what we know to be associated with fire. Signs of a burnt-out wizard are someone that is nervous and withdrawn, or easily startled.

The unregulated desire to share oneself can lead to a loss of boundaries, which can lead to a loss of self. The beautiful fire of creativity and expression can thus turn into ashes of desolation and voicelessness. We can think of someone like Robin Williams as an example of a wizard who experienced both extremes of the fire-type personality. He shared his powerful magic with the world but also suffered from depression and isolation.


Some general but important reminders to help keep your fire in balance:

  • Celebrate your inner wizard! Allow yourself time for the pursuit of pleasure.
  • Stay hydrated, avoid overindulging in spicy foods and stimulants.
  • Avoid over-excitement and over-exertion, Make time for rest and solitude.
  • Maintain appropriate physical, emotional and spiritual boundaries.
  • Cultivate a peaceful spirit, tranquil mind, and harmonious heart. (Meditation is a great cultivation tool.)

Throw in a little self-love and gratitude ….. and you’ll really be stirring your magic. .

Summer Self-Care: Pressure Points to Keep Your Fire in Check


In Chinese Medicine, each season is associated with one of the five elements and specific organ systems, and those organ systems have their own pathways of energy and information. Summer is associated with the fire element and the Heart and Small Intestine organs. The Role of the heart is to house the mind and circulate the blood (that also carries consciousness) throughout the body. The small intestine has the job of sorting and processing the food broken down by the stomach. It also contributes to the clarity of consciousness by energetically separating the pure from the impure. The pathways that enable qi and information to go to and from these organs travel along the arms.

Summer is unique in that it has 2 additional organ systems that play supporting roles in the balance and maintenance of the fire element in the body. These are the Pericardium and the Triple Burner. Not considered traditional organs in western medicine, the pericardium is the protective membrane that surrounds and protects the heart. The Triple Burner, while lacking a western medical analogous structure, is more a functional concept that helps to define the body in terms of 3 spaces (the upper, middle and lower ‘burner’) while integrating the organs within those spaces. Both the Pericardium and Triple Burner organ systems are involved in the regulation and circulation of warmth in the body and have pathways along the arms as well.

While there are other channels that run along the arms (namely the lung and large intestine meridians, associated with the metal element and Autumn), having all 4 fire element channels coursing through the arms is more than enough reason to focus some attention on this part of our body in the summer.

Before we talk about specific pressure points to manage your personal fire energy, remember that simply stretching and moving the arms is an easy way to awaken and energize these channels for seasonal health! Stretch your hands all the way to the tips of the fingers (where the channels begin, end and connect). Stretch your arms and body to feel the stretch throughout your chest, back and shoulder joint, activating your small intestine and triple burner channels. Get on the floor and relax in a star shaped stretch and make sure to feel the opening of energy in your armpits where the heart and pericardium channels travel through.

We can think of the fire element as the energy correlated with consciousness and warmth (among other things). The fire element requires maintenance to keep it in balance just like a fire that must be fed but also controlled. During the summer months, the fire element is naturally nourished by sunshine, activity, community, and the joy of the season. But there are times when we can get overwhelmed by any of these in excess.

Important acupressure points to know If you’re ever feeling over-heated or over-stimulated are Heart 8 (HT 8) and Pericardium 6 (PC 6). To locate HT 8, make a loose fist and where your pinky tip touches your palm is the spot. Dig in gently to cool your jets. PC 6 is a great point for anxiety and feeling like you just need to turn down the volume on life and get centered. Make a fist, squeeze, and notice 2 tendons along the center of your forearm. You’ll find PC 6 about 3 finger spaces below the wrist crease, between those tendons. Fuel your fire this summer and let it burn but remember these points when you need a moment to simmer down.

Summertime Foods

As the weather grows warmer we often become more active and participate in a variety of outdoor activities. An ideal summer diet is light and filled with fresh foods with high water content. Foods that have a bitter taste are good to consume because of their healing effect upon the heart.

Raw fruits, fresh salads, cool soups and light meals consisting of grains and vegetables are adequate this time of year for healthy, vigorous adults. Sprouted vegetables and grains can also be mixed in with your foods or a variety of dishes to help maintain a cool body temperature.

For better digestion and assimilation of nutrients, avoid mixing too many foods together at one sitting. Fruits and juicier foods are best eaten alone or between meals.

As a rule of thumb, eat heavier meals in the morning or evening. This type of summer diet can help you feel lighter in the heat of the day, maintain your energy, and aid in weight loss.

Each organ has a specific flavor that affects it. Foods with a bitter taste stimulate the function of the heart. These include green leafy vegetables such as endive, escarole, lettuce, and watercress. Coffee, tea, and chocolate. These foods can nourish the heart, but consumed in excess do more harm than good.

Summer invites us to become more active. Just be sure to stay hydrated by consuming enough water, juices, and herbal teas.


GET UP-N-GO SHAKE

  • 2 large frozen bananas
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 2 1/2 cups rice milk
  • 1/2 tsp. mint extract
  • 1 tbsp. almond butter

PEEL BANANAS AND FREEZE THEM OVERNIGHT. PLACE ALL INGREDIENTS IN A BLENDER AND PUREÉ.
For added health benefits, consider adding fresh lavender and spinach or kale.


COOL-OUT SUMMER SALAD

  • 6 medium tomatoes
  • 2 small cucumbers
  • 4 radishes, sliced
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1 large dill or sour pickle, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, minced
  • 1/2 cup green olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 – 2 tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

ALLOW SALAD TO MARINATE FOR 1 HOUR. CUT TOMATOES IN HALF AND SQUEEZE OUT AND DISCARD SEEDS. THEN CUT INTO 1/2 INCH PIECES. TOSS ALL INGREDIENTS TOGETHER. SERVE COOL OR ROOM TEMPERATURE.

Embrace the Joy of Summer

This comprehensive self-care guide tailored for summer covers the seasonal perspective, including the associated color and taste, dietary recommendations, and simple home remedies.


SUMMER HEART

The Heart houses the mind (Shen) and controls the blood vessels. It’s responsible for mental clarity, emotional stability, and sleep quality.

IN BALANCE:
A balanced Heart results in a joyous disposition, strong spirit, clear mind, and good memory. You’ll feel sociable, content, and connected.

OUT OF BALANCE:
Imbalance can lead to anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, or lack of joy. Physically, you might experience palpitations, shortness of breath, or cold hands and feet.


SUMMER SELF CARE GUIDE

Summer is the season of maximum Yang, where warmth, growth, and activity reach their peak. It’s a time of joy, expansion, and connecting with the abundance of life, reflecting the Fire element in Chinese medicine, which governs the heart and small intestine.

SUMMER COLORS – THE VIBRANCY OF RED:
Red, the color of the Fire element, symbolizes the warmth and joy of summer. Embrace red in your meals, clothing, and surroundings to connect with the season’s vibrant energy.

TASTE OF JOY – THE BITTER FLAVOR:
Bitter flavors can cool the heart and calm the spirit, balancing the intense Yang of summer. Incorporate foods like kale, arugula, and bitter melon into your diet.

TASTE OF RENEWAL – THE SOUR FLAVOR:
Incorporate sour flavors into your diet to support your Liver. A squeeze of lemon in your water, a dash of vinegar in your salad, or other tangy delights can help maintain a healthy Qi flow.


NOURISHING SUMMER FOODS:

STAY COOL:
Enjoy cooling foods like cucumbers, watermelon, and mint to balance the summer heat.

LIGHT MEALS:
Opt for salads, fruits, and light proteins to keep your energy levels balanced and avoid overheating.

HYDRATION IS KEY:
Drink plenty of fluids, especially water and herbal teas, to stay hydrated during the hot summer days.

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