Summer in Austin can be loads of fun, but for many of us it can also be a challenge. As temperatures climb, it is not uncommon to feel more fatigued and less motivated. Fortunately, there are many ways to naturally offset the heat and lethargy so you can enjoy all the merriment that summer has to offer.
Taking a holistic approach can be an extremely beneficial way to help give our bodies that extra boost. The system of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses acupuncture, herbal medicine and food therapy as a means of supporting health and renewing energy. According to TCM theory, there is a distinct form of vital energy called “qi” that circulates through meridian pathways within the body. When qi gets stuck within a meridian, it can create a wide array of negative symptoms including the feeling of low energy, lethargy and fatigue. When qi is flowing smoothly, one feels far more energized and motivated. Heat is one of many pathogenic factors that can obstruct the flow of qi, which is why it is common to feel an increased sense of fatigue during the summer months.
It is not that there is a lack of energy in the body, it is more that the energy is encumbered and needs to be redistributed. Being one of the oldest forms of medicine in the world, acupuncture is a great way to balance qi, clear excess heat, restore energy and furnish the body with a renewed sense of health, vitality and momentum.
Herbal medicine is a fine complement to acupuncture. Not only are herbs jam-packed with nutrients and minerals, they also have a profound effect on the body, on both a biological and an energetic level. Although generally safe, herbs work differently on different people. For example, a particular herb may have an extremely beneficial effect on one individual and very little effect on another. Every human being has their own unique physical biosphere with many distinctive factors to be taken into consideration, which is why it is important to consult with a licensed Acupuncturist or trained herbalist prior to using herbs. With that said, here are some of my favorite energy boosting herbs:
Astragalus (Radix Astragali) is an adaptogenic herb frequently used in TCM, Ayurveda and Western herbalism. Used for over 2,000 years, astragalus helps to increase the body’s basal metabolic rate, improves physical stamina and boosts the immune system. (1)
Eleuthero root, also known as Siberian Ginseng, is another potent herb used to increase energy and enhance physical endurance. A fantastic herb for people who participate in sports or high impact workouts, although you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy its benefits.
Ganoderma is a highly praised mushroom that increases energy, enhances the immune and respiratory system as well as inhibits the growth of bacteria.(2) In Chinese, its name is Ling Zhi which translates to “Spiritual Potency” and in Japan it is known as Reishi, which translates to “king of herbs. ” With its wide array of health benefits, it’s no wonder this herb has received royal commendations.
Like many energy-boosting herbs, astragalus, eleuthero and ganoderma are warm in nature, thus it’s a good idea to add cooling foods to the diet when using these herbs in the summertime. In fact, adding cooling foods to your summer diet is a great idea in general! Foods that are considered to be cold in temperature play a key role in keeping your body cool while also helping you to maintain energy and stamina during the sweltering summer months.
Here are a few delicious summertime foods that will help to keep you cool and feeling refreshed:
Cucumber is fine addition to salad or by itself, fresh cucumbers are made up mostly of water and help keep the body cool and hydrated during the hot summer months.
Mung Beans are rich in iron and B vitamins, and are considered a top-notch champion when it comes to clearing heat in the body. These beans are also highly effective in the treatment of heat stroke and fever.
Watermelon is made up of 92% water, and besides being a favorite picnic treat and summertime staple, it is rich in Vitamin A and C. Watermelon has a powerful cooling effect on the body, helping to remove excess heat and keep the body hydrated.
Staying energized and cool in Austin can be difficult in the summer but with the right tools it is certainly not impossible. Acupuncture, herbal medicine and nutrition are safe and effective ways to naturally kick start your energy while also providing the body with nourishment and strength so you can enjoy the summer with vigor and vitality.
In addition to its energy-enhancing effects, acupuncture can treat a wide array of ailments, including pain, allergies, stress and psycho-emotional conditions. If you would like to know more about how this ancient medicine that has persevered throughout the centuries can help you, please visit my website, www.zenpointacupuncture.
Astra Gordon,LAc, MAcOM, ACN is a licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist. She has a Master’s degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine and a Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy. She is licensed by the Texas Board of Medical Examiners and is a certified Applied Clinical Nutritionist.
- Zhong Yao Yao Li Yu Lin Chuang (Pharmacology and Chinese Applications of Chinese Herbs), 1985:193
- Zhong Hua Yi Yi Xue Za Zhi (Chinese Journal of Medicine), 1985; 42(12):13