Protection from summer heat

Sweating sunSummer heat is wonderful: it is an expansive energy that makes us want to go outside, get up early or stay up late to enjoy morning and evening freshness...midsummer nights, in particular, as Shakespeare well knew, vibrate with magic...fireflies are dancing, it is warm and pleasant. Evenings are long and lend themselves to social gatherings. Everywhere we see picnics, people travel and go to the beach or the mountains, seeking both freshness and ways to enjoy this special time of year.

Like any season or climate, though, summer heat has both positive and negative aspects and is considered one the six external and climatic pathogens in Chinese Medicine. It belongs to the energy of Fire, that can weaken the Heart when out of control. Symptoms of Summer Heat ? diarrhea (often called “explosive diarrhea”) and digestive upsets are the most common. Summer heat can easily spoil food, in particular meat and fish. It is also easy to get caught in a summer storm and suddenly get chilled. People who leave for long hikes without preparedness might suffer from that. We can see that easily in the Western desert in higher altitudes where there is such a difference between day or night. I remember seeing that kind of situation in the open air opera in Santa Fe. Mistaken by the afternoon heat, people would go to their evening opera event wearing short sleeves, light shirts or breezy dresses, ending up freezing. I often wondered how many summer flus (characterized by more digestive aspects than the winter one) resulted from that outing.
Other versions of that? eating spicy or greasy foods such as hot dogs or burgers together with cold beer. Unpleasant “explosive” reactions often do follow!

green tea in a cupThe best way to beat the heat is the old traditional way: drinking some lukewarm green tea so as to promote gentle sweat, good circulation for the heart and help digestion and avoid fatty accumulation. Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it ?Give me ice-cream, rather, says our mind! However, heat needs to be expelled and therefore pushed out through sweat. While very cold foods or ice-cream initially feel good,they end up trapping the heat inside. If you cannot resist and absolutely want ice-cream, make it yourself or buy one with good ingredients (vegan, coconut, naturally sweetened and without preservatives), let it melt slightly beforehand or in your mouth and follow it up with green tea to gently warm the digestive fire and “melt” the fats that might be stagnating in the stomach....
Did you know that, lately, Western doctors are also warning against drinking cold drinks during or after has been noticed that they increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
So, make sure you keep your fire heart in its gentle ember burning state...not too high...not too low or extinguished!

LI 11 woman 600x300Acupuncture or acupressure is a fantastic ally to regulate body temperature. One of the main points I use at the clinic during the summer is Large Intestine 11 “Quchi= bend at the Pool), a great point for any type of fever or overheating. Another great point to know is PC 6, (Nei uan, Inner Yard) a point commonly used for all digestive upsets, from nausea to vomiting or motion sickness. It affects both stomach and heart, so may be used also to calm the spirit in children for example, who have been playing too hard in the heat and might end up cranky, agitated, nervous, restless and having a hard time falling asleep. Of course these characteristics are by no means specific to children and I use that point on many adults for the very same reasons. In the summer, an essential oil like peppermint on this point does wonder. Use it also on the nape of the neck, on the wrists, ankles and underneath the feet to cool overheating symptoms.


An acupuncture treatment is one of the best ways to reset your whole organism, cool an overheated nervous system and soothe inflammation. A single treatment will easily take care of headaches and stomach ailments associated with summer heat syndromes while preventive treatments will help keep you cool all summer long!

how to find p6 nei kuan pressure points location for acupuncture acupressure wrist bands

If you get “summer heat” syndrome or food poisoning in summer space (food spoils easily in the heat and, if you travel, “la Turista” is a typical summer heat syndrome), Chinese medicine offers two fantastic remedies:
1. Huo Xiang Zheng Qi Wan (“Agastache to Rectify the Qi”)
2. Huang Lian Su (Coptis tablets): Coptis is a superb herb to clear fever and toxins. it is very effective and quick Take both along if you travel to a foreign country where water, food or hygiene might be a problem. Keep it in your pharmacy as a precious emergency remedy. We carry it at our local clinic and I personally never travel without it.
Take both along if you travel to a foreign country where water, food or hygiene might be a problem. Keep it in your pharmacy as a precious emergency remedy. We carry it at our local clinic and I personally never travel without it.

Some of your best every day summer allies?

1. Mint
Mint2A small amount goes a long way. Put a leaf or two in your water, in your tea. Sprinkle some in your salad, in your smoothie or morning yogurt (Didier has an excellent recipe in his ebook, What's for Breakfast?). Invest in a good quality peppermint essential oil and carry it with you as well. Rub it on your neck, ankles or wrists to keep cool. Mint is an essential herb in Chinese Medicine to move stagnation in the liver...its signs? irritability, impatience, easily angered, volatile emotions and disturbed digestion. Sounds familiar? little humble mint can help you...

2. Cucumber
cucumberWhat a gift for the summer. Rich in water, cooling and cleansing or the small intestine. If you have a hard time digesting cucumber, prepare it the old French way. Here is how my mother prepared it and her “concombre recipe” for it: the night before she would pull out the seeds with a spoon and cut the cucumber into cubes (if organic, leave the skin on), put them into a clean cloth or towel and mix it with some salt (you have to play to see what quantity works for you. As soon as you put the salt, you will see some water come out. If it is too salty at the end, you can rinse the salt out) She would then wrap the cucumber in the cloth and let it sit overnight. She space would wring the towel in the morning and the juice would come out, leaving some beautifully translucent cucumber cubes. She would serve that with a dressing of oil and vinegar or lemon and voila! This is an old traditional French way to make cucumber more digestible. Sprinkle with freshly cut mint and you will have a fantastically cooling and refreshing summer dish.

3. watermelon2Watermelon: No need to introduce that friend! great for intestines, rich in water and so rehydrating. What a wonder of nature, so beautifully red like the heart that it protects. Don’t consume it too cold though or eat too much of it as that could cause diarrhea.

4. coconutmilkCoconut: So generous with the water and juice it preciously keeps inside. Another miracle of nature..Rehydrating and rich in electrolytes, it beats energy drinks on all counts. Just watch for the sugar content though, especially if you have diabetes or suffer from hypoglycemia. Get it in its most natural taste if you can....breaking a coconut open. Or if you get it from a store, avoid the flavorings or additives of any kind. Keep in mind that “natural flavors” added are nothing but natural.