What is Chinese Food Therapy for the Summer?
Summer is almost here...I promise.
In just a few short weeks people will be soaking in the summer sun, the smell of grilled food will fill the air, and we will all be sweating and swatting at mosquitos!
So what does this have to do with acupuncture and Chinese medicine?
Chinese medicine believes that human beings are subject to the same cycles that occur in nature; essentially our outward environment affects and reflects our inward environment.
Take for example a cold, snowy day. What would feel comforting to do on such a day? What kind of food would you be hungry for? It is natural and healthy to want to keep warm and do quiet activities like sit in front of a fire or read a good book during the winter. Slow-cooked, warming food and drink like soup flavored with ginger, garlic and black pepper or a mug of sweet and spicy chai are healthy choices that feed our bodies well during the cold months.
But Summer is different! We want to be outside; gardening, swimming, biking, running, sweating! We are drawn to cooling foods and drinks to balance out the heat in our environment. Which sounds better during a hot, sweaty summer day- a warm bowl of spicy, gingery soup? Or a nice refreshing slice of watermelon? Mmm, watermelon.
Organ Season Color Taste Emotion Sensory Organ
Heart Summer Red Bitter Joy Tongue
In Chinese medicine each internal organ is associated with a season, color, taste, emotion and sensory organ. These are clues as to how to keep healthy and energized during this time of year. So let’s follow these clues and see where they lead us.
There are a lot of local, fresh RED veggies that pop up at the farmer’s market, in grocery stores and in our backyards during the summer. Just think of the bounty that the earth provides us: grapes, strawberries, watermelon, raspberries, cherries, tomatoes, beets, red chard, red peppers, and more. These foods provide us with the proper cooling nutrients our bodies seek in the summer.
And then there’s the seasonal taste- BITTER. The bitter taste promotes joy and longevity, but sadly is the one taste that is seriously lacking in our modern Western diet. Arugula, bitter melon, dandelion greens, dill, kale, saffron - all these foods have a bitter taste that Chinese medicine teaches will cool and calm our hearts.
But why would do we need to care about our HEARTS?
The Heart in Chinese medicine parallels its Western anatomic function of pumping blood throughout the body to maintain life, but Chinese medicine expands its role to include a deep connection with our emotional and mental state. Properly nourished and balanced, the heart maintains our innate wisdom, contentment, and emotional balance. Symptoms of heart imbalance include palpitations, sweating easily, mental restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, and chest pain.
Have you been noticing canker sores/ulcers on your tongue? Do you find that you are sweating more than normal even when at rest? Feeling anxious and forgetting things easily? These are all signs of a seasonal Heart imbalance which can be treated with acupuncture and summer food therapy.
Want to learn more? Grab your beets and join me, Leah Fifield, L.Ac. for a fun and informative discussion about Chinese Food Therapy for the Summer on Wednesday, June 8th from 7-8:30pm at NE Community Acupuncture and Wellness Center. Sign up online at http://www.necommunityacupuncture.com/workshops/.
Hope to see you there!