Summer is a season of abundant energy and light, long days, pool parties, ice cream and lemonade. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) recognizes summer as the time of year that has the utmost yang and therefore the element associated with summer is fire. In TCM, there are specific energetic pathways related to each season and element. For the season of summer, the heart and small intestine are the connected pathways.
The heart is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood to all parts of the body. And in TCM, mental activity also falls under the jurisdiction of the heart. This includes our thought processes, memories and emotional state of mind.
The small intestine is responsible for receiving partially digested food from the stomach and refining it further. The small intestine separates the pure from the impure and pushes the impure elements into the large intestine for elimination, while the purified nutrients are utilized by the body. In TCM, the small intestine also influences a person’s judgement and mental clarity.
When the heart and small intestine channels are not functioning properly, a person may experience symptoms such as insomnia, depression, indigestion, heartburn, irritability, agitation and even palpitations.
To keep the heart and small intestine functioning properly within the TCM system, things like acupuncture, herbal formulas, nutritional counseling and practices like qi gong or tai chi may need to be incorporated. There are over 350 acupuncture points on the body, but there are a few that work exceptionally well during the summer season to help with mental clarity and digestion.
1. Heart 8 – This point is located bilaterally on the palm of the hand. When a fist is made, the point is where the tip of the little finger lands. Heart 8 can be used to decrease palpitations, calm the mind and bring down a fever.
2. Large Intestine 11 – This point is located bilaterally in the depression on the outside edge of the crease created when the elbow is flexed. This point is a great to use when a person is overheating. It can lower blood pressure, decrease a fever and help with abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.
3. Small Intestine 3 – This point is located bilaterally on the outside edge of the fist, just behind the largest knuckle of the hand, where the red and white skin meet. Small intestine 3 can help decrease a fever and calm the mind.
4. Heart 7 – This point is located bilaterally at the outside end of the wrist crease, in the depression between the two tendons. This point is great for calming palpitations, decreasing a fever and settling the mind.
5. Ren 4 – This point is located on the midline of the abdomen, about three thumb-breadths below the belly button. Ren 4 helps with indigestion and diarrhea. It also specifically helps separate the pure from the impure.
Any of these points can be used alone or in conjunction with others. They can be manually stimulated using pressure from a finger or dull, rounded tool. But for best effects, it is recommended acupuncture be applied.