According to the lunar calendar, the hottest days of 2016 will be from July 17 to August 25 – but Texans don’t need that reminder, with triple-digit heat continuing into August. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) emphasizes holistic practice and our connection to the surrounding universe. Seasonal changes have a large impact on our bodies. For the latter part of this hot summer, here are some general tips to maintain the health of you and your families.
First, despite the temptation, try to avoid extreme cold in the form of either icy-cold beverages or gusts of AC. Drinking cold beverages can cause stomach pain and indigestion. Many people do not realize how important their digestive systems are. Chinese medicine emphasizes the stomach as a critical part of your body’s strength -- “Take care of your stomach for the first half of your life, and your stomach will take care of you for the second half,” as a saying goes. Even if you don’t experience any such symptoms now, a little care now goes a long way.
A common TCM recommendation to all patients is that they drink water and other liquids at room temperature or as close to it as is palatable for them. Also take care not to drink too much water at once to avoid shocking your system – instead of chugging your water after a day out, try to drink smaller amounts more frequently throughout the day.
Another side effect of summer comes from artificially cold environments. Be careful not to blast your AC directly on your neck, shoulders, and back, because this can cause muscle spasms or colds, especially if you were sweating beforehand. Overly air-conditioned buildings can even contribute to arthritis.
Dietary suggestions are a key component of TCM, as different vegetables and fruits have a wide range of actions essential to our health. Since it’s so hot outside, we should try to eat foods that are cooling in nature to reduce the heat in our bodies. For vegetables, this includes cucumbers, avocados, asparagus, spinach, celery, bok choy, mushroom, seaweed, bittermelon, mung bean and mung bean sprouts, radish, dandelion greens, and tomatoes. Recommended fruits include apples, pears, watermelon, bananas, strawberries, grapefruit, and rhubarb.
Given the soaring temperatures and physical activity characteristic of summer, we sweat more than usual and exert greater energy, making it easier to experience fatigue. Some may also find that their appetite is suppressed. To prevent colds and maintain general health, you can drink a glass of lightly salted water (with 1/8 tsp of salt) to help replenish salts and fluids within the body.
Finally, as the kids get ready to go back to school, they may experience excitement or anxiety over the new academic year. A little bit of stress is normal, but if your child cannot overcome this anxiety, then consider seeking professional help. At AOMA, we can use Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture to help with focus and stress reduction.
In addition, there are certain things that can be used to help boost your child’s immune system, apart from a regular schedule, healthy food, and exercise. Chinese medicine emphasizes improving your bodily constitution to prevent catching disease. We can use pediatric tuina massage and herbal medicine to help combat germ exposure. Such treatments can be implemented both before sickness as a preventative measure, or during illness to reduce symptoms.
If you have any questions about these general wellbeing tips, or specific health issues, please feel free to request an appointment in our clinics! Enjoy the rest of summer, and our eventual transition into fall.