Summer Seasonal Newsletter

My newsletter will be about the summer season as it is seen through the eyes of Chinese Medicine. It will include helpful tips for you and suggestions for optimizing health through connecting with the season.

Summer is the time when energy in nature and in ourselves is most outward, upward, expansive, full of movement and activity. In Chinese terms – this is the most yang time of year. Energy is more abundant, and while the spring is characterized by a more industrious energy, the summer brings more spontaneity within activity. The summer calls us to develop our conscious awareness, to hold contentment and joy within our hearts and to give form to self expression. This time of year is about connection with friends and loved ones and warmth in relationships. The energy all around in nature is of life coming to fruition, so take a moment to feel gratitude for what is blossoming in you.

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In Chinese medicine the summer is associated with the heart and small intestine

The internal organs associated with the summer season are the heart and small intestine. Below is a description of themes and health issues of these organs. It is a particularly good time to improve the health of the heart and small intestine with more energy available to them. Chinese medicine can be used to improve both their physical and emotional aspects.


The heart is said to house the mind and our shen (spirit). Thus it controls the intellect, thinking, perception, communication and is involved with memory. It is given a leadership role among all the other organs and gives direction, awareness and consciousness. The heart manifests in the tongue and speech, controls the circulation of blood and manifests in the complexion.The emotions related to the heart are joy and connection on the positive side and anxiety when the heart is out of balance.

Health problems associated with the heart: palpitations, cardiac pain, shortness of breath with exertion, tiredness, listlessness, cold limbs and purple lips, insomnia, dream disturbed sleep, dizziness, vertigo, poor memory, pale or red face, heat sensation in the palms and or soles of feet, low grade fever in the evening, dry mouth and throat, pain in the mouth and tongue, speech difficulty, stuttering, aphasia, excessive talking, spontaneous sweating and night sweating. As the heart houses the mind the emotional/mental problems associated with the heart include: anxiety, a tendency to be startled, feeling agitated, and in extreme cases mania, mental confusion, incoherent speech,
aggressive or violent behavior, tendency to scold or hit people, depression and mental dullness, uncontrolled laughter or crying, shouting and muttering to oneself.

Small Intestine:

The small intestine is part of our digestive system, and receives food from the stomach and passes it on to the large intestine. It is the primary place where we absorb the nutrients from our food. Its mental and emotional aspect relates to our ability to discern – to distinguish relevant issues with clarity. In Chinese medicine our ability to discriminate and make good judgments is related to this organ.

Health problems associated with the small intestine: acute pain in the lower abdomen which may extend to the back, abdominal distension, flatulence, constipation, vomiting, bad taste in the mouth, parasites.

Having a Great Summer

Take a summer vacation! Calm your mind and refresh your body.

Balance the focused intensity of work with spontaneity and summer play.

Spend time with friends and loved ones whose presence is nourishing. Reach out and express what’s on your mind and in your heart.

Delight in what has come into fruition in your life both by grace and by what you have worked hard to achieve.

Practice benevolence and compassion, seek contentment and tranquility. Joy is important to the heart, yet Chinese medicine emphasizes the content aspect of joy, rather than over excitement.

Connect with your sense of purpose.

Cultivate an expansive outlook on life, yourself and those around you. Develop love and wisdom.

Make sure you have tools and a plan to help you manage stress and anxiety.
Pay attention to your heart, and be proactive with any heart health concerns whether that means more exercise, scheduling a doctors visit, or cultivating relaxation!

In Chinese food theory how you prepare a meal is important, so prepare meals with love, and gather with friends and family for a meal. The taste associated with the heart is bitter – so bitter melon, dark chocolate and bitter greens are good for the heart. Beets, reishi, apple, coconut, and saffron are a few other foods recognized in Chinese medicine food theory for supporting the heart.

Additionally, from a more western approach to foods, here are a few more heart healthy ideas: omega 3 rich fish from a good source, lots of leafy green veggies, blueberries, raspberries, pomegranate, almonds and walnuts, avocados and olive oil.

The supplements Hawthorn and COQ10 (best form is ubiqionol!) are well known for supporting heart health – you can talk to your practitioner or do some research to see if it would be right for you.

Get into good sleep habits and make sure your sleep quality is good. If you don’t sleep well and don’t know about or have not reviewed tips for good sleep hygiene – check out the link to a great overview below! Also check out the research highlight on sleep in the next section.

Share a totally authentic laugh with someone!

Research Highlights

Acupuncture was found to significantly reduce anxiety
among many various studies with statistically significant effects.

A systematic review of studies about acupuncture compared to placebo and pharmacotherapy showed statistically significant improvement in sleep. Take home message: acupuncture worked better than sleeping medications. The review included 30 studies involving 2363 participants.

For both of these systematic reviews of clinical trials, the quality, methodology, bias and consistency of studies was quite variable, the studies overwhelmingly showed a positive benefit.

Warm wishes for a joyful and expansive summer,


Johanna Granger
Acupuncturist and Herbalist