Author: Dr. Maryam Mahanian, DTCM, RAc

The Summer Season: TCM Perspective and Essential Health Tips for Summer

The days are longer and the sun is shining here as we have finally entered the season of summer.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has long recognized the influence of nature on our well-being, and summer holds a significant place within this healing system. To be in our best health, we need to adapt our diet and lifestyles according to which season we are in for optimum balance, vitality and harmony. 

Each season is associated with specific elements, energies, and organ systems in our body. Summer is no exception. 

The five elements are wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Each of these elements correspond to a particular season. The element that corresponds to summer is Fire and is associated with growth, expansion, and abundance. It is the most yang season of the year. Yang relates to warming energy, growth, outward activity, creativity, light, and brightness. 

The following summarizes what is associated with summer according to TCM: 

Element: Fire

Organ system: Heart 

Color: Red

Nature: Yang within Yang; Greatest Yang

Emotion: Joy

Taste: Bitter

Motion: Upward 

Heart Organ System

The corresponding organ in focus during summer is the heart, which plays a vital role in maintaining our physical and emotional well-being.In TCM, the heart system houses the mind. It not only regulates blood circulation but it also controls consciousness, spirit, sleep, and memory.

When the heart system is balanced, people are friendly. They have clear minds and can think clearly through complex problems. 

When the heart is out of balance, the mind is scattered and confused, there may be mania, speech problems, mental illness, loss of memory, poor circulation, weak spirit and aversion to heat. 

Emotions associated with the Heart
In TCM, the heart is regarded as the emperor of the body, governing all aspects of our physical and emotional well-being. When the emotions relating to the heart are out of balance, we either experience too much joy, in a manic state, or we experience too little joy, in a depressed state. Some symptoms to show this imblanced state of the heart are agitation, insomnia, delirium, palpitations, and nervous exhaustion. 

Protect the Heart from Heat
During summer, it is important to protect the heart from excessive heat. Seek shade during the hottest parts of the day, wear breathable clothing, and use natural sunscreen to shield your skin from harmful UV rays. 

Calm the Mind
It is important to take steps to calm the mind in the summer while the heart is predominant. A simple light diet is best without foods that are overheating or too rich. Avoid too many ingredients in a meal, very spicy rich foods, refined sugar, alcohol, coffee, late night eating and eating very large meals at night. 

Some foods that are good for calming the mind, according to TCM, are oats and other grains like brown rice and whole wheat, mushrooms, mulberries, lemons, schisandra berries, jujube seeds, chia seeds, dill, basil, and chamomile tea or valerian tea.

Foods for the Fire Element
To align with the Fire element, introduce foods that are energetically cooling, such as watermelon, cucumber, mint, and lotus root. These help to balance the excess heat and nourish the body. Additionally, incorporating bitter flavors, such as bitter melon and bitter greens, can support the heart and help maintain a healthy circulation.

Be Joyful
Emotions are closely linked to the health of our organs. As the heart is associated with joy and happiness try to cultivate emotional well-being during summer, engage in activities that bring you joy, spend time with loved ones, and express gratitude for the abundance and good in your life. Work, travel, be outside, and be joyful. 

Stay Hydrated
The heat of the summer can be depleting, so it is crucial to stay well-hydrated. According to TCM, room temperature or slightly warm water is preferable, as it helps maintain the balance of internal energies. Avoid excessive consumption of icy beverages, as they may disrupt digestion and lead to stagnation.

Prioritize Rest and Rejuvenation
With the vibrant energy of summer, it’s easy to get caught up in numerous activities and exhaust ourselves. TCM emphasizes the importance of rest and rejuvenation during this season. Take short breaks throughout the day, practice calming activities like meditation or qigong, and ensure you get sufficient sleep to restore your energy levels.

Harmonize with Nature
Summer is an excellent time to connect with nature and engage in outdoor activities. However, it is important to strike a balance between active and passive pursuits. Engage in moderate exercises like swimming, walking, or gentle yoga to invigorate your body without excessive strain.

Support Digestion

The TCM perspective places great importance on maintaining a healthy digestive system. In summer, focus on lighter meals that are easy to digest. Incorporate cooling foods such as fresh fruits, leafy greens, and herbs like cilantro and dill to support your digestive fire.

Use plenty of brightly colored summer fruits and vegetables at this time of year. With cooking, try to use high heat but for a very short time or just lightly cook your food by steaming. Use little salt and add more water. 

Because we sweat out a lot of minerals, their loss can lead to weakness. Try to replace these minerals by having a lot of variety in your diet. 

On very hot days, have more cooling foods like salads, sprouts, cucumbers, tofu, chrysanthemum tea, and mint tea.


As we embrace the radiant season of summer, let us draw inspiration from the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine. By aligning with the energy of the Fire element and implementing these TCM-based tips, we can experience a harmonious and fulfilling summer. 

Remember to nurture your heart, stay hydrated, prioritize rest, and honor the abundance of nature. By doing so, you can cultivate well-being in this summer season. .

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