“Ô, Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on Earth.”
~ Roman Payne
For most of us, summer is synonymous with sunshine, beaches, balmy nights, fireflies, outdoor dining, and barbeques. School is out, sandals are in, and whether you have vacation plans or not, summer is a time of exuberance and glory.
In the western hemisphere, summer solstice heralds the first day of summer. The longest day and the shortest night of the year, summer solstice usually happens around June 21-22 every year, when the celestial latitude of the sun is exactly at 90°.
However according to the East Asian lunisolar calendar, the beginning of summer, also known as Li Xia, happens 45 days before summer solstice - Xia Zhi. This year it took place on May 5th.
SUMMER ACCORDING TO
Summer belongs to the fire element which manifests in the heart, small intestines, and pericardium in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory. While spring signals the beginning of birth and growth, summer fosters this growth to mature and reach its full potential.
Fire represents a radiant, life-sustaining energy and is emotionally related to joy. When your fire is balanced, you feel a warm and joyous energy during summer.
A well-tended fire allows you to blossom and illuminate.
However when you are out-of-sync with the energy of summer, this fire can take a wrong turn.
Too little or too much fire can manifest as depleted energy, anger, dehydration, disturbed spirits, increased infections, and sleeplessness. Seasonal affective disorder can also happen during summer.
Some skin ailments will tend to peak during the warmer seasons; heat rash, sunburns, folliculitis, yeast infections, eczema, and hyper-pigmentation are among some of the common ones.
The ancient Chinese observed and noted this seasonal phenomenon. They developed practical methods to counteract the negative effects of this seasonal transition. If your fire element is not burning right this summer, we have the tips to help.
HOW TO DEAL WITH CHAOTIC SUMMER FIRE
1. SLEEP IN A DARK SPACE
If your drapery in your bedroom is inadequate, consider a pair of silk eyeshades. It’s also good to take short naps during the longer days of summer, and rise earlier to catch the cool morning light.
But watch out for excessive sweating. Sweat belongs to the fluids of the heart according to TCM theory and excessive sweating damages your heart yin energy. How does this damage manifest? Other than dehydration, you might start feeling restless and have trouble getting a full night's rest. Workout to a mild sweat and make sure to hydrate adequately.
3. EAT LIGHT
This is the season to indulge in summer crops. Cool off from summer heat with melons and stone fruit that are packed with flavors and juice. If you have excessive heat going on (thirst, irritability), it might be a good idea to add bitter-tasting vegetables such as arugula, watercress, and bitter melon to your diet. Instead of avocado toasts, try a cucumber and herb sandwich to keep things light and fresh.
Photo by Bryan Gardner via Martha Stewart
4. AVOID DRAFTS AND REDUCE USE OF AC
As much as the cool air feels so refreshing on a hot and muggy day, prolonged exposure to air-conditioning can lead to headaches, dry skin, respiratory issues and general malaise. If you are often indoors, ensure your carpeting and drapery is clean, and invite plenty of fresh air into the room.
5. REFRAIN FROM ANGER
Anger generates more heat, instead take the opportunity to cultivate mindfulness and compassion towards yourself and others. If you encounter a situation where you’re likely to blow up when speaking up, say nothing at all. “Silence is sometimes the best answer.” - Dalai Lama. If mindfulness is not enough, try these 11 methods to deal with anger.
SUMMER FOODS TO EAT
In China it’s customary to celebrate summer solstice with cooling foods such as cold noodles in various forms, wontons, rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves and dishes made with summer produce such as lotus root, bitter melons, enoki mushrooms, wild rice, string beans and many other delicious seasonal produce.
COOLING TEAS FOR SUMMER
Here are some of our favorite teas to invigorate your heart and spirits this summer:
Add a small handful of herbs as needed in hot water, steep for 5 minutes, take a deep breath, enjoy!
Helps to alleviate restlessness and relief summer heat.
A sweet, aromatic herb that helps to reduce anxiety, insomnia and supports the immune system.
Mint + Licorice Root
Promotes digestion, soothes sore throats.
Ginger + Lime
For those with colder constitution (i.e., cold hands and feet/poor digestion/ loose stools), this is a balancing tisane to ease bloating, stimulate appetite and improve circulation.
*Sweeten with a bit of raw honey if desired.
MUNG BEAN SOUP
We love mung beans as a simple medicinal food to quell summer heat. It’s packed with nutrients, great for detoxification, inexpensive, easy to find and make.
Here are two versions, savory and sweet. Ensure mung beans are soaked at least 6-8 hours prior to cooking, overnight is best. Usually 1 cup of bean to 3 cups of water is a good ratio for soaking. Be sure to discard the soaking water and cook with fresh water for both recipes.
SAVORY MUNG BEAN SOUP
|Mung Beans (Soaked)
||¼ tsp (1 pinch)
||1 tsp (to taste)
Add your favorite vegetables
Heat stockpot on medium high. Combine ghee, cumin, and ginger and heat till fragrant. Add soaked beans, water, and a pinch of turmeric to the stockpot, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until beans are soft.
Add your favorite vegetables such as chopped kale, spinach, and carrots, continue to simmer for another 15 minutes. For a richer flavor, use vegetable or chicken stock.
SWEET MUNG BEAN SOUP
|Mung Beans (Soaked)
|Lotus Seeds (Soaked)
|Sucanat/ Coconut Sugar
||2 tbsp (to taste)
In addition to mung beans, this sweet recipe also calls for soaked lotus seeds. The ratio of lotus seeds to mung beans should be 1:4. Be sure to remove the center sprout from lotus seeds after soaking, otherwise you will be eating bitter soup.
Place mung beans, lotus seeds, and water into a stockpot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes or until beans are soft. Add sugar to taste, we prefer sucanat or coconut sugar for the minerals and micronutrients.
Chilled sweet mung bean soup is super delicious on a hot summer day. Soup will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.