Summer is here! From an acupuncture perspective, seasons are a big deal, since humans are viewed as microcosms of the natural world that surrounds them. Weather and time of year can factor significantly into how we feel, both physically and emotionally.
Acupuncturists are full of self-care tips for navigating seasonal changes, so I asked some of my colleagues to share advice for staying happy and healthy in summertime. Here’s what they had to say.
Hydrate—but lose the ice
“It is important to stay well hydrated during the hot summer months, but cold can injure the Stomach,” says Michelle Gellis, an acupuncturist in Fulton, Maryland. “Order drinks without ice, and when possible, stick to water.”
“Iced and frozen drinks send an unpleasant icy shock to the Stomach,” adds Kim Zurich, an acupuncturist in Portland, Maine. “This makes it hard for the Stomach to do its job properly and can lead to lots of digestive problems. Reach for room-temperature drinks instead and you will have one happy gut!”
If you’re not big on water, Cynthia Clark, an acupuncturist in Sarasota, Florida, recommends coconut water. “Synthetic drinks like Gatorade carry a great deal of processed sugar and artificial colors, but coconut water is truly rehydrating and nourishing for the yin. It will also help to rebalance your electrolytes and cool you down in a way that is fundamentally more effective than drinking water alone.”
Spike your water
Acupuncturist Carole Wyche of Portland, Maine has a tip for making water more exciting. “To stay hydrated and implement cooling foods into your diet, try infusing your water. You can muddle mint and add cucumber or watermelon slices—these are all considered cooling in Chinese medicine. Try adding these things to a water jug at your next cookout and watch people hurry to refill their glasses.”
Stock up on watermelon
“Watermelon is a Chinese herb for cooling the body, so eat more watermelon,” says Patricia Lott, an acupuncturist in Towson, Maryland.
Stacey Donelson, an acupuncturist in Longmont, Colorado, recommends drinking your watermelon. “Watermelon juice is cooling and refreshing, and is a little something sweet without being too sweet. In Chinese medicine, watermelon cools summer heat and helps with digestion. It also helps balance the electrolytes. Especially for pregnant moms, watermelon juice is a nourishing and refreshing summer treat!”
For more on the healing benefits of watermelon, check out this article.
Cook with these spices
Acupuncturist Elizabeth Allen, from Greenville, South Carolina, agrees that cooling foods like watermelon and cucumber are the way to go in summer, but she has an extra tip: “Add spices like cumin, fennel, and cilantro. They can help you from overheating.”
Brew these teas
“Cool chrysanthemum tea is refreshing and useful in clearing summer heat,” says acupuncturist Christina Morris of Brooklyn, New York. “Take a small handful of chrysanthemum, put it in hot water, then let the water cool or add ice to cool it down a little faster. You can add honey if you want some sweetness, or add some jasmine green tea if you’re feeling adventurous.”
Susan Wadden, an acupuncturist in Shoreline, Washington, has another tea recommendation. “Summer can exacerbate Heart conditions, especially for Boomers who may be in the thick of menopause and other deficiency Kidney imbalances. Brew linden flower and hawthorn tea and keep it cold in your fridge. Add some aloe juice and lime, and drink throughout the day for a cooling and Heart-healing tonic that keeps deficiency fire syndromes from flaring.”
Skip the coffee
“Coffee and sugar are known to drive up the body temperature,” says acupuncturist Catherine Lumenello of Townshend, Vermont. “Instead, brew some peppermint tea, which naturally cools the body down. Helpful hint: Make sure the tea is 100% peppermint—not a spearmint/peppermint combo!”
Use acupressure for your travel adventures
In this article, San Francisco acupuncturist Denise Cicuto offers acupressure recommendations for headaches, weak immune systems, upset stomachs, stress, clogged ears, and low energy when you’re on the road this summer.
“Get closer to the ground by getting your feet on the grass, in the sand, or in the ocean,” says Cary Rendek, an acupuncturist in Vancouver, British Columbia. “Gardening is one of the best ways to reconnect with the earth, by getting your hands under the surface and bringing life to you and the planet. If you’re starting to feel a little too much in your head this summer, take 15 minutes to come back to earth by spending time with it.”
Avoid Lyme disease with this natural spray
“In the northeast, we are well aware of the huge issue of Lyme disease being passed from ticks,” says Kerry Jenni, an acupuncturist in Montpelier, Vermont. “For a natural remedy to avoid tick bites, make a spray with simple geranium essential oil. Just dilute about 10 drops of geranium oil in 12 ounces of water, and place in a spray bottle. Remember to shake it before use, then liberally spray all over to avoid ticks while having fun outside.”
Carry a thin scarf
This might sound a little weird for a summer tip, but no matter what time of year, acupuncturists are big on protecting the back of the neck because it’s a vulnerable area for contracting infections. “Always carry a thin scarf with you, especially if it is windy, to protect your neck,” says Patricia Petersen, an acupuncturist in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Los Angeles acupuncturist Leona Marrs says it’s important to stretch this time of year because of the vibrant Yang energy that’s coursing through the body. “In the summer months, when Yang is at its peak, our bodies are running warmer and are primed for some good stretching. It helps the qi circulate through the body during a time when, in extreme heat, we tend to sit around.”
“In Chinese medicine, the organ associated with summer is the Heart, and the emotion associated with the Heart is joy,” explains Johanne Picard-Scott, an acupuncturist in New York, New York. “This is the opportune time to cultivate joy in the simplest ways. Be grateful for nature’s abundance, seek and nurture relationships, and do things that make you smile both internally and externally. The more joy you take in this time of year, the more you will have in store to carry you through the more introspective seasons ahead.”
Wishing you a happy and healthy summer!