Wellness Practice in Summer
Focus on Nourishing the Mind
With Discussion of Three-fu Wellness Cultivation
- How to nourish the mind in summer
- Wellness practice in the Dog Days (Three Fu)
- What to eat in Dog Days
- Treat winter diseases in the summer
- Application of Three-fu Moxibustion
It’s the summer solstice today (June 21, 2023), the start of the summer in the U.S. customs ( the middle of summer in Chinese canlendar), the hottest season of year. I would like to take some time to explore some issues in summer wellness practice.
Summer is the most prosperous season of Yang, the climate is hot and vigorous. It is the time with high metabolism, Yang Qi goes externally while Fu-Yin stay inside. Qi and blood operation is correspondingly vigorous up, active in the body surface. Summer is characterized by dry-hot, “hot” to be defeated by “cool”, “dry” to be overcome by “clear” drive. Therefore, Clearing-dry antipyretic is the key to summer wellness practice.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) emphasizes nourishing Yang in summer. In the five-elements theory, summer corresponds to the heart. Hot summer is the most harmful to the heart. In summer, Yang qi is vigorous. Yang qi of the heart can provide power for blood circulation and maintain the most basic life activities. In the hot summer blood circulation speed up, increase the burden of the heart, so in the summer we should protect the heart Yang, and maintain the normal operation of the heart function.
In the hot summer our mind is easily disturbed, often run into the uneasy situation. Therefore, in the summer one cannot be too excited, and should maintain cheerful mood. Summer belongs to Yang; Yang qi mainly for drainage. In summer people sweat more and easily feel sad, meanwhile, it also leads to blood concentration, increase blood viscosity, and increase the burden of the heart. Therefore, the key to summer wellness practice is to nourish the heart/mind (By the way, mind and heart are the same character in Chinese, 心).
1. Moderate morning exercise
People tend to get up early in summer and should do some morning exercises to raise Yang and nourish mind. Taking 20-30 minutes of morning exercise to promote the rise of Yang. But don’t exercise right after you wake up. It is recommended to drink a cup of warm water, and then do short morning exercises, not too strenuous exercise, such as Qigong, yoga and tai-chi are suitable.
2, Lunch break with nap
Refresh yourself by taking a nap at noon. Noon refers to 11 to 13, when the heart meridian is on duty, the key moment to nourish the mind. The best practice is to take a nap, which can relieve a busy morning and improve the efficiency of work and study in the afternoon. It can also improve coronary blood flow, enhance physical strength, and eliminate fatigue. In TCM heart is the master of all viscera. Research shows that afternoon nap can reduce coronary heart disease, angina pectoris and probability of myocardial infarction greatly. Even if you can’t go asleep, closing your eyes for a while is also good for your body and mind.
3. Have a refreshing cup of tea in the afternoon.
In hot summer, potassium, which is closely related to cardiovascular disease, and other trace elements of the human body are easy to lose through sweat. Drinking tea in summer can not only relieve the heat but also supplement potassium.
In addition to regular tea, some simple herbal tea can also be deployed, clearing heart, relieving heat and nourishing the mind. For example, using lotus leaves and lotus-seed core to make tea can nourish the mind, clear heart fire, and relieve heat. With 6 panax quinquefolium and 10 radix ophiopogonis are soaked in boiled water as a substitute for tea. It is suitable for people with fatigue, dizziness, thirst and sweating caused by heat. For heart fire on the inflammation caused by upset insomnia, oral ulcer, one can use 6 grams of lotus seed, 6 grams of cape jasmine, 6 grams of sour jujube seed, with boiled water immersion to be used as tea drink, have the effect of clearing heart and calming the spirit.
4. Take an evening walk
Mind could easily be disturbed in summer. It is appropriate to nourish mind by quiet and tranquility. Summer evening can do some stretching and loosen movement, for example, enlarge chest motion, a mild walk or sit-up, can promote systemic blood circulation, so as to reduce cardiac burden, and improve morpheus quality.
5. Soak your feet before bed
To nourish your mind at night, soak your feet before bed. Summer moisture is heavy, the dampness is most easily invading human spleen. Damp evil trapped spleen, long-lasting will easily hurt heart Yin. Hot water soaking feet and foot massage can remove heat dampness, cheer up spirit, stimu te appetite, and improve sleep quality. Foot massage can also stimulate kidney essence and nourish the mind. Night foot soak with massage yong-quan point (kn-1), help to dispel heat and dampness, prevent heating cold, stimulate kidney essence, lift one’s spirit, increase appetite, and promote sleep.
6. Learn to manage stress
Too much stress is the main cause of coronary heart disease, so we should learn to manage pressure, control your mood, and avoid grumpy. Maintain a positive and optimistic attitude towards life, laugh more and , such ability to improve vascular function, coordination of human body each organ.
In summer nourishment of mind/heart should be quiet and slow with low desire; do not have too much greed, regulate the mood, and avoid too much joy or sorrow. Frequently closing eyes to refresh your mind, can eliminate distractions, and also cultivate more interests, such as listening to music or practicing qigong and Taiji-quan.
In addition, the nourishment of mind cannot ignore keeping good mood wth peaceful state of mind. The elderly should avoid too much joy and sorrow to prevent “emotional heatstroke”. Hot weather inevitably makes people irritable, pay attention to keep smiling, lower desire with nothingness in mind, which can not only improve the function of blood vessels, but also coordinate the body’s organs, protect your health through the summer.
In summary, the most important issue in summer wellness is to nourish the mind and to keep a good mood. In summer time you may also drink some tea appropriately to calm your mind and nerves.
The dog days (Three Fu days) are not only a good time to keep in good health, but also the time to avoid diseases… The dog days start on the third Gen-day after the summer solstice, called the beginning of the fu (10 days); The fourth Gen-day of the summer solstice is called middle-fu (20 days), and the first Gen-day after the start of Autumn is called the Last-fu (10 days), followed by the change of seasons into Autumn.
Here are specific time of Dog Days in 2023 summer:
- First Fu: July 11th – July 20th (10 days)
- Meddle Fu: July 11th – August 9 (20 days)
- Last Fu: August 10th – August 19th (10 days)
“Fu” means latent or lurking. The “fu” of “dog days” means “lurking evil”, which is the “heat evil” in the so-called “six evils” (wind, cold, heat, dampness, dryness and fire).
During the 40 days of Dog Days, please do not have iced drinks and food, which will promote cold invasion and cannot be discharged easily. The reason of winter why many are afraid of cold, because cold hands and feet are caused by the dog days not paying attention to driving out of the deep dampness. In order to discharge the bodily cold, please insist on drinking hot or warm water in the dog days, which will drive out the deep dampness and cold buried in the body for many years.
In the summer heat evil will gradually go deep in the body without being known. If summer heat evil is not removed. In autumn, fire evil overcomes gold, and injury lung qi, resulting in the decline of immunity, and suffering from colds, coughs, fever and other diseases. And in the winter, these diseases will come back and forth.
How to keep healthy in dog days
“Dog days” are the hottest, humid and sultry days of the year, and people say “bitter summer” at this time. In this season, we should pay attention to increase nutrition. Food should be light and easy to digest. Eat less greasy and spicy food, drink less and smoke less. In addition, do a good psychological adjustment, to calm, tranquil, abstain from impetuous, avoid anger.
When it comes to dog days, what people think about most is what to eat in dog days? There is an old saying: “First-fu dumpling, second-fu noodles, third-fu pancake roll eggs”. Dog days eat dumplings, pancake, noodle etc. meaning, besides summer harvest wheat after the joy of sufficient food, basically it is to remind people that summer meals should not be just so so, one should frequently comfort oneself, eat good staff, a bit more protein and vitamin-B rich food.
Because summer temperature is high, sweating, one will lose a lot of protein, amino acids, minerals; eating noodles is more conducive to nutrition supplement. In terms of what to eat, there are four main points to master: more acid and sweet, replenishing qi and removing fire, fresh and clean, replenishing water and keeping healthy.
1, More acid and sweet
Ancient scholars believed that “summer is hot and humid, suitable for cleaning and replenishing”. Summer is very hot with high temperature, people like cold or iced drinks, drink more water, resulting in moisture invasion of the body, and wet into the inside, so that water wet spleen, cause the rise and fall of the spleen and stomach, followed by digestive dysfunction, water congestion, loss of appetite and so on.
According to the wellness view of TCM, heat dampness is very damaging to the spleen, so it is appropriate to eat more sweet or sweety cool staff in daily diet. And, summer is heart season, and the heart like cool and sweet, one need eating more acid, so summer should be appropriate to eat some acid food, such as: pineapple, watermelon and so on.
2, Replenishing qi and removing fire
Hot summer not only brings us physical discomfort, but also easy to lead to more and more rising anger, showing emotional irritability, anxiety, excitable, insomnia and so on, these symptoms in medicine are known as “summer affective disorders”.
Therefore, “removing fire” is also the necessary work of summer tonic. Summer fire-dispelling food, the best choice: baldica (bitter melon), tomatoes and other cool, antipyretic vegetables and fruits. At the same time, milk, featured slightly cold, can replenish water, nourishing Yin, antipyretic poison, is also good “fire-removing” product.
3, Fresh and clean food
Chinese medicine believes that the stomach is the foundation of the acquired life. Summer-time people often feels anorexia, the function of spleen and stomach is relatively dull, might as well eat some fresh vegetables and fruits right now. The composition of nutriment of fresh vegetables and fruits, it has the content of cellulose and sugar each half, can complement human body effectively not only the energy and moisture, its relaxed idiosyncrastic also can let a person eat for a long time and not be tired. Carrot, lemon and amaranth are the first choices. Seasonal wild vegetables and fruits, eat more is a great benefit. But be careful not to overeat raw, cold or unclean food, so as not to catch dysentery, diarrhea, etc.
4, Replenish water and keep healthy.
The TCM theory pays attention to “Yin-Yang balance and five elements”, “heaven-human correspondence”. Winter season is Yin, while summer is Yang. Summer is the season of Yang rising and Yin decline, it is also the time when the human Yang qi is flourishing, as human Yang qi has a tendency to desired rising and flourishing in the summer, and the body’s qi of cold condensation is in a state of easy solution. During Dog days, people may slightly work or exercise, get a lot of sweat, and then have a strong sense of thirst. Therefore, replenishing water to keep healthy has become a top priority in the dog days.
What to Do Exercise in Dog days?
“Winter exercise into three Jiu, summer exercise into three Fu” is the experience summed up by predecessors in the long-term exercise process. Although there is a certain scientific truth, its effects vary from person to person. For the elderly and physically weak people, it is not appropriate to emphasize “summer training in three Fu (the dog days)”.
Dog days are the hottest season of the year, with high temperature, low air pressure, high humidity and low wind speed. Such climatic conditions have obvious adverse effects on human health. When the highest temperature is between 30 and 33 degrees Celsius, the elderly should reduce physical exercise within half an hour. When three-Fus come, the elderly should stop all activities to static braking (but keep qigong, tai-chi and meditation 😊), and keep adequate drinking water; At the same time, keep some antipyretic medications handy, such as Ren-Dan, ten drops of water, cooling oil, huo-xiang zheng-qi water and other conventional summer medicine.
It is more appropriate to do some mind-body exercises in the dog days, such as Tai-chi, qigong, yoga, or some mild exercises like walking and swimming.
For more information on mind-body exercise in the summer, please check out our weekly online “Qigong for Health” from the following page:
The so-called treatment of winter disease in summer, that is, in summer the body and outside are rising in Yang qi, with internal medicine combined with acupuncture and moxibustion and other external treatment methods to treat some diseases frequently occurring in the winter. For example, use of fresh sesame flower to rub the area that is easy frostbite, can prevent winter frostbite; With special herbal ointment sticking on the acupoint, can treat winter asthma and rhinitis.
Three-fu moxibustion refers to the TCM method of moxibustion treatment in the dog days of summer, is a combination of TCM practical medicine, acupuncture and moxibustion and herb medicine. Three-fu moxibustion is the most characteristic dog-day healthcare therapy in TCM, which is similar to modern preventive medicine. The specific approach is to take use of the dog days when Yang qi is the most prevalent, and put TCM stickers or moxibustion on the corresponding acupoints according to the diseases to be prevented, so as to achieve the effect of moxibustion.
The time of three-fu moxibustion is strictly regulated, that is, beginning-fu, middle-fu and end-fu. “Fu” refers to the three lunar festivals, the ancient medical books stated, fu day is Gen-day, belongs to the element of gold, suitable with lungs. TCM thinks, the changing seasons, the temporal changes, would greatly affect the human body and wellness. “Nurturing Yang in summer” can prevent the happening of the disease in the winter, such as asthma, allergic rhinitis and frail prone to colds and other, all belong to the scope of lung disease.
There are differences between three-fu moxibustion and three-fu pasting (sticker). Three-fu stickers are the prepared mixed herb medicine according to the patient’s conditions, posted on some specific acupoints, so to achieve the purpose of treating diseases.
Three-fu moxibustion is the use of moxibustion at certain specific acupoints to achieve the purpose of treating diseases. Moxibustion has the functions of warming the meridians and clearing collatals, activating blood circulation and removing blood stasis. It can promote the blood circulation, enhance the metabolic function of the human body, regulate the endocrine, digestion and absorption of the body, so as to achieve the purpose of treating diseases. The commonly selected acupoints for three-fu moxibustion are Zhong-wan (CV-12), Guan-yuan (CV-4), Shen-que(CV-8), Zusanli (ST-36), Shen-zhu(GV-12), Ming-men(GV-4), Da-zhui(GV-14), Shen-shu(BL-23) and Baliao(BL-31 to BL-34 ), etc. Ginger moxibustion can also be used, and the effect of ginger moxibustion is better than simple moxibustion. The dog days of summer are the strongest season of Yang in a year. Moxibustion can achieve twice the result with half the effort at this time.
Three-fu paste is made by selecting the corydalis tuber, white mustard seed and other herbs according to the proportion, crashing into powder, mixed with ginger juice into paste, with adhesive tape to stick the lump ointment on the acupoint. Each one stick medicine once, at the corresponding acupoints, all disease points are different. Adults generally stick 2 ~ 4 hours, children stick 1 ~ 2 hours, after the skin has a feeling of fever, or burning pain. Each person’s skin tolerance is different, varying by tolerance degree. After application, the local skin of ordinary people will have hot and ruddiness, if the skin on the acupoint blister, the effect will be better, proving that the drug has infiltrated the acupoint meridians by the skin, through the meridians qi and blood directly to the disease.
The Applicable conditions
Three-fu moxibustion uses the principle of “treating winter diseases in the summer” to treat diseases that are prone to occur in winter, so as to prevent and reduce the occurrence of diseases in winter. Three-fu moxibustion is a widely acclaimed TCM therapy, but it cannot cure all diseases. It is mainly applicable to two kinds of diseases: one category is allergic diseases, such as asthma, recurrent respiratory tract infections (pharyngitis, tonsillitis, bronchitis, bronchial pneumonia, etc.), chronic bronchitis in the elderly and children’s colds in winter. Other category is the diseases related to deficiency and cold, such as stomachache, colitis, arthralgia, deficiency and cold headache, low back pain caused by kidney deficiency and other diseases.
For more information about wellness practice in different seasons, and about what is appropriate mind-body exercises for different persons, please come to our online class “weekly qigong for health” on every Sunday morning with the link here （the first class is a free trial）:
Wish you a cool and pleasant summer!