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Surviving Summer with Chinese Medicine

By Kendra Lay

Are you a person who is greatly impacted by the weather and the seasons? Do you start to wilt when the temperatures rise in Tallahassee? According to Chinese medicine, the weather has more influence on your health than you may think. The ancient Chinese lived and worked exposed to the elements, and they observed how weather affects the human body. In today’s modern society it is easy to become disconnected with the rhythm of the seasons.

According to Chinese medicine, there are pathogens in nature that can invade the body and cause disharmony or disease, similar to how we might think a virus invades. In the hot summer months, most people are susceptible to what we would call a heat invasion. Some symptoms of a heat invasion might be irritability, delirium, dizziness, flushed face or rosacea, extreme thirst and dry mouth, constipation, hemorrhoids, and heat rash.

Some of these conditions, like thirst or mild constipation, might be easily cured with diet and lifestyle changes. For instance, staying indoors at the hottest times of day, drinking plenty of water and avoiding over exercising would all be helpful to keep heat at bay in the summertime. Chinese medicine also considers certain foods to be cooling and others to be heat forming. Avoiding spicy foods like hot peppers and garlic is a good idea. Lamb and chicken are also considered to be warming foods and should be limited in the summer. However, pork is considered to be a cooling food, as are mung beans, egg, crab and watermelon. In general, you should eat lighter foods like fruits and vegetables, which contain a lot of moisture. Eat them lightly sautéed or steamed, or if you have strong digestion you can also eat them raw. Avoid very greasy and heavy foods during the summer months, as these can weigh you down and allow heat to accumulate.

According to Chinese medicine, some conditions might be influenced by heat even if it isn’t hot outside. For instance, infections in Chinese medicine usually have heat at their root. Other conditions, like anxiety, rheumatoid arthritis or acne will often find relief by clearing and cooling heat from the body. A licensed acupuncturist can perform a full evaluation and prescribe acupuncture points and herbal formulations to fit your specific condition—bringing back balance to the body—and helping you keep your cool!

Kendra Lay grew up in Tallahassee. She is currently completing a master’s degree in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at AOMA: Graduate School of Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas. In addition, Kendra is also completing a program in Applied Clinical Nutrition from the Texas Chiropractic College. She is the recipient of the 2010 New Leaf Market-Matthew Tansey Memorial Scholarship for health, healing and nutrition.

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