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In the summertime....according to Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

watermelon in hand

Spring has well and truly sprung with summer fast approaching, bringing hotter temperatures and increased humidity. In Chinese Medicine (CM), the most yang of seasons is one of abundance and exuberance, with long days and plenty of sunshine. CM also places importance on the optimal choices of foods we eat for the different seasons.

The digestive system can cause problems for many with the heat and humidity of summer. Some lose their appetite while others suffer bouts of diarrhea. We want to be sure to soothe and cool the body while keeping body fluids abundant.

leafy green vegetables

Bitterness. To eat in accordance with the summer season (CM concept), and benefit the digestion, foods with bitter-cool and bitter-cold flavours are suggested. Some examples are dandelion, parsley leaves, collard greens, mustard greens, arugula, kale, celery, corn, and sesame seeds.

Green tea is another good option, as it is said to disperse that summer heat, and even calm the mind.

Fruits and veggies. In addition to the foods mentioned above, here are some fruits and vegetables that are deemed to assist in keeping you cool and balanced.

  • Apricot

  • Apple

  • Lemon

  • Kiwi

  • Orange

  • Pear

  • Pineapple

  • Tangerine

  • Cantaloupe

  • Peach

  • Asparagus

  • Sprouts

  • Bamboo

  • Bok choy

  • Broccoli

  • Chinese cabbage

  • White mushroom

  • Snow peas

  • Spinach

  • Summer squash

  • Seaweed

  • Mung beans

Keep it light. Summer and the Fire element are directly connected with the small intestine (in TCM), which means that summer and indigestion can go hand-in-hand. The lighter diet is meant to help us avoid such digestive issues.

Moderation. Be mindful to eat in moderation, as over-consumption in general, and particularly of "cold" foods, can cause fatigue, digestive upset and even loose bowels.

Fluids are particularly important in the summer months. The heat can dry up body fluids while the humidity can suppress the desire to drink, so consume cooling fluids to help disperse that heat and build body fluids. Drink plenty of water – lemon and cucumber slices can make it more interesting with watermelon juice another go-to beverage for summertime, as it cools the body.

Some things to avoid.Try to stay away from hot, dry, and very spicy foods, these are best consumed during the colder months. and while we may be tempted to reach for those ice cold foods such as ice cream, these can cause the digestive system to "slow down" – so maybe some watermelon or pineapple instead. It is also suggested dairy, fried foods, and heavy, greasy foods are best consumed in small amounts for optimal digestion.

Chrysanthemum Tea

Something a little different. Cold Chrysanthemum Tea (first drunk during the Song Dynasty (960–1279), is a great summer recipe to add some variety in quenching thirst. It reputedly clears heat, benefits qi, and promotes fluid secretion, which is just what our bodies need in the summer weather.

Keep in mind, if you're allergic to daisies or ragweed, you might also be allergic to chrysanthemum.

It can be bought off the shelf, however what's the fun in that?


  • 60 – 80 White Chrysanthemum Flowers

  • 3 teaspoon of Jasmine Green Tea

  • Rock sugar or honey

  • 4 liters of water


  1. Wash the chrysanthemum.

  2. Put chrysanthemum and tea into a cooking pot.

  3. Pour in 4 liters of water and bring it to boiling.

  4. Reduce heat and continue to cook for 20 minutes.

  5. Put in rock sugar or honey.

  6. Remove pot from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

  7. Strain the tea and place in the refrigerator.

  8. Serve the tea chilled and enjoy!


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