“Hey Dr. Chong, It’s hard for me to sleep in the summer. I keep turning and tossing”. I get asked this during the summertime. Before we get to the answer, let’s look at the Qi of Summer and how it affects us.
PS: I love getting questions from you so keep them coming!
Summer seemed to start late this year. Can you believe we are at the peak of it? I hope you are taking time to get out of the office, out of the house and get to the beach. It’s a wonderful time of year when the water warms up, the sun is out and the beaches can get crowded. This is the time of year I see people tend to be more aggravated; impatient, cranky, distracted and have bad vibes. They are exuberating a lot of YANG energy. It should not come as a surprise that summer is related to the fire element. The Heart and Small Intestine systems are predominant during Summer. Both energies are at their peak.
The Heart performs many energy functions that are vital to the health of your entire body, mind, and spirit. On a very deep level, true health comes from a peaceful heart. Think about that.
In Chinese Medicine, the Heart organ is the Emperor or the Big Boss. Nothing happens without the heart. The heart coordinates all body activities: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. It houses the Sprit or Shen and is the control center for the other 4 aspects of the soul (we will get into that in my next newsletter).
The main job of the Heart is to be the command center. You must have enough Qi and all your organs must work well together in order to have good health, yet the organs must also work well in harmony to function. Your Heart serves as a Big Boss who coordinates all the organs, receiving and relaying the countless messages continually sent back and forth between them. This means that if your Heart is not peaceful, its function will be affected, which, in turn, will impact all the other organs – digestion, elimination, sleeping and more. Are you peaceful? Now is a good time to remind yourself why to meditate.
Governing Blood Circulation
The Heart is responsible, along with your Liver, for controlling your blood circulation. Blood moistens and nourishes your entire body. Did you know that blood is also is the material basis for all mental activity? Normal mental activity is reliant on sufficient blood and proper blood circulation. Also, if your Heart is not supplied with enough blood, it will not be able to house your spirit. So mental issues such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, emotional ups, and downs ensued. This is a good time to remember to nourish blood with foods like kale, beets, dark-colored vegetables; and exercise.
Ruler of Mental Activity
When the Eastern philosophers speak of the mind, it is a much broader concept than those in the West. The Mind includes all aspects of consciousness, including thinking, intelligence, emotions, memory, and sleep. So mental issues and sleep irregularities like insomnia and nightmares as can come from an unbalanced Heart.
If the Heart does not have enough Qi, it cannot provide a place for your spirit. When this is the case you may experience restlessness. Sometimes this will cause mental cloudiness and elusive memory. Without a strong, balanced Heart these key aspects of consciousness can be dull and disturbed.
Perspiration and the heart
Perspiration is the ‘fluid’ of the Heart. Perspiration comes from the body fluid, and the Heart controls body fluids. Prolong and excessive perspiration can damage heart Qi. Demanding exercises, staying too long in the hot sun without sufficient intake of water will lead to insufficient Qi of the heart.
Calming the heart with some bitters
Bitter is the taste of Fire. It drains downward, dries, and guides to the Heart. We tend to have an aversion to very bitter-tasting foods. Being a product of evolution, bitter flavors tend to warn us of potentially of toxic substances.
However, bitterness is a common profile of herbs that are less food grade and more on the spectrum of potent medicinals. Alkaloids, glycosides, and flavonoids, which are often bitter, help support the circulatory and nervous system.
Bitters should be used sparingly in the summer to calm down fire and bring harmony to the Fire element. Foods that are bitters include bitter melon; cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli, arugula, radishes, and sprouts; orange peels and bitters added to juice or water.
Summer is also mid-year. Wow, time is going by so fast! Summer is a great time for a physical, a checkup and a tune-up. Come see me for a mid-year tune-up and get your body in harmony. Schedule your appointment today.