In Chinese Medicine, summertime is the season of the heart organ system. The “heart” corresponds to fire, joy, laughter, and the color red. It houses our mind and spirit, allowing us to form connections with others, and communicate our true feelings. However, out of balance, it can cause insomnia, anxiety or excess joy in the form of mania.
To support our heart organ system, we can eat more of the foods below. These help calm the spirit and promote a good night’s sleep.
- Oyster Shell – also known as Mu Li in Chinese Herbal Medicine. Helps to settle and calm the spirit, treats insomnia, tinnitus, headaches and irritability. It also helps with spontaneous daytime sweating, night sweats, and acid regurgitation. Take as part of your Chinese Herbal Formula, or in the form of Oyster Shell Calcium
- Whole Grains – especially whole wheat, brown rice and oats. Calms the mind. Immature wheat grain, or Fu Xiao Mai, also helps with crying spells, & excess sweating. Eat Whole Grains daily, or take Fu Xiao Mai with licorice as part of your herbal formula.
- Mushrooms – almost all mushrooms have the effect of calming the mind and helping promote better brain activity. Fu Ling is one variety used in Chinese Medicine which helps to tonify the digestive system, promote better fluid balance and calm the spirit. Reishi mushrooms, in addition to their immune boosting abilities, are also great for soothing the spirit and calming the mind.
- Silicon rich foods: improve calcium metabolism and strengthen nerve and heart tissue. Calcium and magnesium are two nutrients which help with relaxation, so better calcium metabolism is a necessity for staying calm and collected. These foods include: oats, cucumbers, celery and lettuce. Have a juicer? Try drinking a juice made of celery stalks, cucumber and green apple before bed. You’ll have a much easier time catching some zzz’s.
- Fruits and Berries: Another great bedtime snack / sleep aide is passion fruit. Eat one before bed and you’ll sleep like a baby. Mulberries and lemons are also known for their calming abilities, as are Schisandra Berries or Wu Wei Zi in Chinese herbal medicine. Schisandra, is calming and focusing, promoting better concentration and memory. It also helps with excessive sweating and frequent urination. It can be found in dried form in Asian Markets like Super 88. Add a handful to a mug of warm water, and drink after soaking for 15 minutes. Otherwise, take in powdered form as part of your herbal formula.
- Seeds: Jujube seeds or Suan Zao Ren, are great for tonifying the heart, and calming the spirit. They are one of the best herbal substances for promoting sleep and helping with anxiety. Chia seeds are also great for calming, and have the added bonus of being high in omega 3’s.
- Herbs and Spices: Chamomile, dill and basil are all great calming herbs.
- Red Foods and Foods that resemble the heart: Since the summer is ruled by the heart, and the color red, try aligning with its energy by eating more red foods and heart shaped foods. Think strawberries, cherries, raspberries, watermelon, red plums, red grapes, and cherimoya (white and creamy, but heart shaped).
*Thanks to Paul Pitchford and his book Healing with Whole Foods, for much of this information. If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it. I have read it many times over the past 12 years, and never get bored of it.