As we find ourselves on the cusp of summer, it’s an opportune time to consider how we can make the most of this vibrant season. Today, we’ll be exploring some elements of Chinese medicine and its dietary practices that could help us maintain our health during these warmer months.
Chinese medicine, a holistic health care system with thousands of years of wisdom behind it, emphasizes balance in the body. Picture this balance as a seesaw, with Yin on one side representing coolness and calm, and Yang on the other, symbolizing heat and energy. Summer is undeniably a Yang season, full of activity and warmth.
However, if we’re not careful, the increased heat and activity can tilt the seesaw towards Yang, leading to an imbalance that can cause dehydration and exhaustion. Let’s explore how traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) suggests we restore this balance.
Choosing the Right Foods
In TCM, food isn’t just about satisfying our hunger; it has an ‘energy’ too. Some foods are considered ‘hot’ or ‘warm,’ while others are ‘cool’ or ‘cold.’ To balance the Yang of summer, it’s recommended to eat more cooling foods.
- Fruits: Watermelon, cucumber, and strawberries are perfect choices. They’re seen as cooling and hydrating.
- Vegetables: Light and leafy veggies like bok choy, spinach, and broccoli are tagged as ‘cooling’ foods.
- Herbs and Spices: Incorporating mint, cilantro, and dill into your meals can have a cooling effect.
Try to go easy on grilled, fried, or spicy foods, as they might add more heat to your body.
Hydration is key in summer. Herbal teas such as chrysanthemum and green tea are often recommended for their cooling properties. Even your regular water can be jazzed up with slices of cooling fruits like lemon or cucumber.
Acupuncture and Moxibustion
Acupuncture and moxibustion are Chinese treatments used to maintain the body’s balance. As summer corresponds with the heart and small intestine in TCM, an acupuncture session might involve stimulating these related points to ensure a smooth energy flow.
Moxibustion is a soothing treatment that uses burning herbs to stimulate acupuncture points. It’s a fantastic way to boost overall vitality, making it a unique addition to any treatment.
Rest and Relaxation
While summer is synonymous with activity, it’s also essential to have some downtime. Balancing high-energy activities with calming practices like meditation, Tai Chi, or gentle yoga can prevent an excess of Yang energy.
Here’s a refreshing recipe to help jump start a balanced, healthy, and enjoyable summer!
Strawberry and Mint Salad
- 2 cups of fresh strawberries
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- A pinch of salt
- Wash and hull the strawberries, then slice them into halves or quarters, depending on their size.
- Rinse the mint leaves and gently pat them dry.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, and a pinch of salt until the honey dissolves completely.
- Add the sliced strawberries to the bowl and toss them gently until they are fully coated with the honey-lemon dressing.
- Chop or tear the mint leaves and sprinkle them over the strawberries. Gently toss the salad again.
- Chill the salad in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld together.
- Serve the salad chilled, on its own, or as a side dish. It pairs wonderfully with grilled fish or chicken.
This salad is not only delicious and refreshing but also aligns with the principles of traditional Chinese medicine for summer health. The strawberries are cooling, the mint adds an extra refreshing element, and the honey and lemon provide a balance of flavors.