Traditional Chinese Medicine Summer Tips

According to traditional Chinese medicine, each season is ruled by an element. Summer is associated with the element of Fire. The ancient theory of The Five Phases was introduced almost two thousand years ago, and discusses the idea that the structure of the cosmos reflects the five elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Each Season is associated with an element, with the Earth element relating to the change in seasons every three months. And along with its associated element, each season is related to parts of the human body and certain forms of energy.

Summer is not only correlated with the element of Fire, but with the heart, small intestine, and the tongue. Knowing which element relates to each season can provide knowledge from traditional Chinese medicine regarding health in that season. Special attention should be paid to those aforementioned organs during summer. Fortunately, when the Fire element is in balance (as it often is in summer), the heart is strong and healthy.

An imbalance in any element can cause problems with its related organs. When the Fire element is inharmonious, one’s joy (associated with the heart) can be out of whack, resulting in too little (depression), or too much (chaos) joy or exuberance. Agitation, nervousness, heartburn, and insomnia are symptoms that one’s Fire balance is off. To prevent these problems, traditional Chinese medicine recommends that people take full advantage of the long summer days. Getting up earlier in the morning, going to sleep later at night, and trying to rest at midday is recommended for a great state of mind. Fluids are very important in summer months, and adding strong or spicy flavors to one’s diet is also suggested. Due to its connection with the small intestine, summer and indigestion can go hand in hand. A lighter diet should be chosen over heavier foods.

This season is also a prime time to focus on changes in life regarding growth, joy, and spiritual awareness. The predominant nature of Summer is Yang, which unlike the darker and calmer Yin, is related to excitement, assertiveness, and exuberance, making summer a great time to take action to form positive change in one’s life. 

For more information on traditional Chinese medicine and summer, please contact Pacific College of Oriental Medicine at (800) 729-0941, or visit


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