TCM and Summer Heat

Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM, is a medical system that dates back nearly 3,500 years. This system uses modalities like acupuncture and botanical formulas to treat ailments and keep the body balanced. TCM acknowledges not four, but five seasons.  The fifth season, Indian summer, occurs in late August through mid-September. Each season has a pair of organs or energetic pathways it corresponds t0, for Indian summer, these pathways are those of the spleen and stomach. During this fifth season, a condition called summer heat can occur. Summer heat can manifest in our bodies in a number of ways; insomnia, nausea and vomiting, over heating, constipation

The spleen and stomach are directly responsible for digestion. The spleen also has the added function of transporting and absorbing water in the body. When the spleen is not functioning properly, the body may suffer from a buildup of dampness. This can manifest as edema, digestive issues, diabetes and even brain fog.

Indian summer tends to be the time of year when most people experience things like heat stroke, although it can happen at any time of year. Here are some ways TCM can help you deal with excessive summer heat.

Acupuncture for Summer Heat:  As mentioned above, when summer makes one last ditch effort to hold on, many people experience heat stroke. Along with regulating the body temperature, acupuncture can decrease any inflammation that may have occurred during the heat stroke episode. Acupuncture treatments can help with the digestive issues frequently accompanying heat stroke.

 Acupuncture Points for Summer Heat:

  • Heart 8 – Located on the palm of the hand between the pinky and ring finger. Found by making a fist, Heart 8 can be used to decrease thirst and restlessness, while also treating insomnia.
  • Large Intestine 11 – This point can be found bilaterally at the outer end of the elbow crease created when the arm is flexed. Large intestine 11 clears heat, drops a fever and decreases any inflammation that may be occurring due to excess heat in the body.
  • Pericardium 3 – Located bilaterally on the inner elbow next to the large tendon, this point is great for sun stroke or anxiety that often accompanies heat stroke. 
  • Chinese Herbs and Formulas for Summer Heat:  Another important component of TCM is the use of herbs and herbal formulas. Many times herbs can be used alone, but there will be a more synergistic effect when single herbs are combined to make a formula. One such herb is the lotus leaf, also known as He Ye. This herb is frequently used to treat diarrhea associated with summer heat. A go-to herbal formula used to clear summer heat is Qing Luo Yin. This formula eliminates the symptoms of heat stroke, such as fever, blurry vision and brain fog. It’s not a bad idea to keep this formula on hand when spending lots of time outside during the summer 
  • Dietary Recommendations for Summer Heat: Nutrition can also be very important in preventing summer heat or heat stroke. Certain foods have been used for centuries to fight summer heat. One of these is watermelon. Watermelons are 90 percent water and therefore eating it throughout the warmer summer months can help keep your core body temperature low enough that heat stroke might not be an issue. Mint is another cooling food that can be used in almost every summer dish. It is frequently added to a pitcher of water to create a nice refreshing drink that can be sipped all day long. For an added treat, try making a smoothy with watermelon, mint and shaved ice to help you beat the heat.