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Mid-Summer Checkup: Heat-Related Health Problems

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    It’s the middle of Summer, a time Oriental Medicine describes as the ‘Fire’ season.

    The heart is your body’s primary focus during summer; it’s the internal organ where the heat of ‘Fire’ concentrates. In addition to heat-related problems that can directly affect the heart during summer, you have other internal organs that are also heat sensitive, like the liver, which has a tendency to become overheated during this time of year,  making you more vulnerable to feeling irritated.

    In this episode of ‘Seasonal Health Tips,’ Kitty talks about how your heart (Fire), liver (Wood), and kidneys (Water) interact to affect your health in the middle of summer. (To get the most out of what Kitty has to say, open the 5 Element Theory chart in a new window while listening.)
    Length 03:44, Size 4.3 MB

    Water Cools Fire: Summer’s Impact on Your Kidneys and Bladder
    If your liver has a tendency to get unbalanced, it can release quite a bit of heat during the summer, which in turn causes all sorts of heat-related problems, like high blood pressure, rashes and hives.  In nature, when fire becomes excessive it also becomes dangerous, and water is needed to control it, it’s the same way with your body in summer. Considering this, as your body draws on its ‘water’ resources to cool itself down, your ‘Water’ element organs, which are the kidneys and the urinary bladder, tend to get overworked, and if they are weak or unbalanced to begin with, you can experience discomforts, and potentially a crisis, related to those organs.

    The ‘Water’ energy of kidneys cools down other organs that get overheated in summer.

    Maintaining Your Engine Avoids Problems
    It’s a lot like the radiator in a car, the water in the radiator provides the cooling mechanism for the engine, which keeps the whole thing from overheating.  When the water is low, or the radiator runs dry, which is equivalent to the kidneys being weak and unbalanced, the engine is at risk; so too your body is at some risk when your kidneys are taxed by heat during the summer. This is an Oriental medicine example of why many people experience problems like high blood pressure in the summer.

    Summer Health Tips
    It’s important to drink enough water and eat the right foods to ensure you’re meeting your body’s summertime needs.

    • Drink more water. Because it’s hot and you perspire a lot during the summer, the average amount of water you should drink in a 24-hour period is 48 ounces — this includes all fluids, such as, juice, soda, and other beverages. (Note: 48 ounces is the equivalent of 6 eight ounce glasses.) When you are sweating more than usual — as on some days in the summer — drinking more is advisable. It’s important to pay attention to how you feel, and drink more when you’re thirsty.
    • Monitor your intake of salt. An imbalance of salt in your body — too much, or too little — can readily occur when temperatures are hot. You will know you’re getting too much salt if you find that rings you wear get tighter, and socks or shoes that fit you comfortably during cooler weather, leave lines or wrinkles on your feet or ankles because of too much fluid in those areas.
    • Eat cooling foods. Cucumbers, mung beans, and watermelon are particularly good foods to eat in the summer. They help to keep your body cool, and because of their diuretic properties, they also help to offset excess salt intake.
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    IMPORTANT: All information on this Web site is provided for educational use only and not meant to substitute for the advice of a local Oriental Medicine practitioner, biomedical doctor, experienced coach, or martial arts instructor.