Chinese medicine tips for summer health
We are now at the peak of summer, with the sun at its zenith, shining longer and warmer on us than at any other time. Nature is providing us with a profusion of colours and smells, days are longer, and for many of us it is a time to have a more relaxed pace, spend more time with our friends and loved ones and have fun. Behind those qualities of warmth, joy and abundance lies the true essence of Fire, the element associated with summer in Chinese medicine.
Fire gives us warmth, but also the capacity to love and be loved. The emotion associated to the element Fire is Joy, and summer of all season is the best time to have fun, spend time with your loved ones and cultivate happiness.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR SKIN
The skin is our largest organ, affected daily by the elements, pollution and environmental chemicals. Better yet in the summer months we spend time outside under the blazing sun and too often we forget where the fine line between suntan and sunburn lies.
Although exposure to moderate sunlight in limited amount is beneficial as it stimulates vitamin D production in your skin (essential to bone health and can lower the risk of some cancers), prolonged exposure and repeated sunburns can lead to skin aging, loss of skin elasticity and skin cancer.
So now that summer is here and we are spending more time on the beach or by the pool it is crucial to avoid being in the sun for prolonged periods of time in the hottest hours of the day, and to protect our skin. we all know it but it never hurts to be reminded to:
■ Avoid extended sun exposure between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
■ Use UVA sunscreens with a SPF factor of 30 to 50, especially if your skin is fair.
■ Wear wide-brim hats to protect the more sensitive skin of our face.
If you already have a mild sunburn, try these home remedies:
■ Applying aloe vera gel is a tried and tested remedy for skin burns.
■ Apply a thin layer of plain yogurt to the burn area. It will cool and moisturize the skin.
Many cosmetics use harmful chemicals. Eyelash enhancing mascara may use formaldehyde, and lipstick often contains plastic resins. Foundation makeup may include chemical solvents that are carcinogenic. So opt for some of the many good and healthy alternatives using natural products such as coloured clays, vegetable oils and other natural ingredients.
Keep hydrated and drink plenty of water, at least 2 litres a day, and more if you are going to be active in the sun. Avoid spicy foods, alcohol and coffee as they are all dehydrating to the body.
Shorten shower time
Long, hot baths and showers remove oils from your skin so keep your bath or shower time under 15 minutes, and use warm, rather than hot, water. After washing, gently pat yourself dry with a towel to keep some moisture on your skin.
Exfoliate with body brushing
Try body brushing by using a dry, natural bristle brush to sweep the surface of your whole body. This eliminates dead skin cells, increases circulation to the skin, boosts skin immunity against infection and nurtures a vibrant skin tone.
As we age, the Qi and blood in the skin and underlying facial muscles slowly decreases, leading to decreased support and moisture of the face. Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture can improve muscle tone and dermal contraction especially in the face and neck. It can increase collagen production and aid in its dispersal thus helping to firm the skin and fill out wrinkles. The increased circulation of blood, lymph, and Qi to the head also improves the complexion, by reducing blemishes and tightening of the pores.
CHINESE MEDICINE TIPS FOR SUMMER HEALTH
To prevent summer ills and remain in harmony with the environment of summer, ancient Chinese physicians advised to:
- Awaken earlier in the morning.
- Go to bed later in the evening.
- Rest at midday.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Add pungent flavours to the diet.
- Refrain from anger; keep calm and even-tempered.
Other helpful tips for the summer season
- Cooling drink: add sliced of lemon and cucumber to a pitcher of water and sip it throughout the day.
- Eat in moderation as over consumption of any food, especially cooling foods (raw foods, cold foods, ice cream), can lead to indigestion and possibly diarrhea.
- Stay away from dairy, heavy, greasy, and fried foods.