the heart of summer in Chinese medicine

In ancient China, summer was considered an almost magical time of life giving warmth after the still depths of winter. The season corresponds to the element of fire, the element of the heart which was considered to be the “emperor” of the body. It’s in the heart that the Shen/spirit was thought to reside and so summer is a time where warmth ignites joy and the feel good factor, we are more visibly relaxed inviting an expansion of the body where blood circulates freely and the internal organs are warmed. With this ebb and flow of the seasonal change we have the opportunity to come out of hibernation and open up to life.

“The supernatural forces of summer create heat in the heavens and fire on earth; they create the heart and the pulse within the body…” The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine

However, life and its challenges continue despite the sunny days so for those who are emotionally challenged, summer can be a difficult phase to navigate where treatment to shift that which clouds the heart is vital to ensure a smoother passage into the cooler months. It can be more powerful to work with a particular element at the time of year where it naturally manifests hopefully catalysing a healing shift to regain some balance.

In its extreme, summer heat brings over heating and humidity so it may be necessary to cool the body and dispel excess heat. It can also be a time of erratic temperature’s and summer rain creating confused thermostats in our body making us susceptible to summer chills and malaise as the warmth and summer clothes we start to embrace become eclipsed by our umbrellas. A seasonal acupuncture treatment in summer is an effective way to realign because the body is more open, Qi flows closer to the surface in comparison to the depths of winter.

Above all, summer is the time to nourish and purify the heart when it is in its element; if we have our summer – our light – we can better illuminate our way for the darker months ahead.

Maria Christofi has been practising Traditional Chinese Medicine and massage for 20 years. She offers a range of acupuncture treatments at triyoga Camden and specialises in women’s wellness. 

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