Summer Solstice is today, June 20th, 2016.
Summer Solstice is derived from the Latin meaning, “sun stands still.” It is the longest day of the year with 17 hours of sunlight and also traditionally marks the beginning of the summer season. It also happens to be an exceptionally special solstice this year as it co-insides with a strawberry moon. A strawberry moon is a full moon in June which marks the beginning of strawberry season! A fruit that is particularly popular in this area.
In Chinese Medicine Summer is considered the most yang time for the year. Nature’s Qi is at full force; the fruit is sweet, the butterflies are hatching, and flowers are blooming. On a physiological level our bodies own yang energy is also peaking at this time. Our core yang energy is at its peak and we notice that our hands and feet aren’t as cold as they usually are as there is enough yang energy in our bodies to push our body’s yang energy to our periphery.
This excess yang energy also brings with it its natural yin cooling counterpart with is sweat. Sweat is governed by our heart qi and can easily be depleted during the summer season with excess sweating. Depleting our heart yang energy can be damaging as it can set us up to start the winter with heart that is weak, leading to overall fatigue and depression in the winter months.
Chinese Medicine Theory is unique in that is a constant balancing game. When there is too much of one thing, you try to balance out its counterpart. This method is particularly effective as it works on a preventative level instead of a reactive level like western medicine. With these subtle tweaks of our diet and lifestyle we can create an internal environment in our bodies that can sustain health year round.
In order to balance out the effects of this excess yang energy of summer it is essential to replenish what is lost (yin fluids) and anchor the yang energy so that it isn’t lost with excessive sweating. This can be achieved with some dietary changes, herbal formulas and season specific acupuncture treatments.
A favorite treat for me this time of year is juiced watermelon with a little bit of ginger. As watermelon is energetically cooling in nature, it can replenish the fluids that are lost through our sweat while cooing and anchoring the rising yang energy. By drinking this juice on really hot days you are preserving your heart qi, replenishing body fluids and setting yourself up for a healthy winter. I always add a little ginger to this drink to protect the digestive energy of the gut. This drink is also effective at treating other excessive internal heat conditions such as a bladder infection.
Enjoy the summer and let me know what you think about that watermelon juice! 🙂
Michelle Hamilton L.Ac.