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Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Formula for Summer Wellness

Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs in a box

The twelve organ systems of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) connect with their western biomedical counterparts, but aren’t limited to western understandings of locations or functions. In TCM, each organ system includes not only the organ’s location, but also primary meridian lines, collateral lines, sinew channels, and more. The Five Elements of Chinese medicine—Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal—and their associated seasonal changes correlate with these organ systems.

For instance, spring is associated with Wood, while summer’s heat embodies Chinese medicine’s Fire element. Fire is associated with Heart and Small Intestine. According to one of the first classical texts on Chinese medicine, the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine (Huang Di Nei Jing, 黃帝内經), Heart is considered to be the Empress, the queen of the show.

Summer is a potent time for movement, activity, expression, and experiencing joy. Increase activity levels while decreasing food intake, and eat more raw, light dishes and fruits. Summer encourages us to spend healthy time barefoot outdoors, and enjoy whole-hearted relaxing play with our family and community.

Chinese Medicine for Summer

The Chinese medicine Heart regulates circulation and communication, and strongly affects one’s mental and emotional state. In summer, time of Fire, the Heart is very active. We work hard and play hard. The warmth and love of Fire’s friendship and camaraderie is loving, joyful, and heart-warming, but can also be draining. When allowed to run amok, unfettered Fire, or a Heart allowed to completely run wild with no propriety, can lead to “internal forest fires” such as anxiety, insomnia, and even mania.

“Restless Organ syndrome” (Zang zao, 臟躁) is an emotional condition that usually arises from excess worry, anxiety, or pensiveness. This may manifest as frequent bouts of melancholy, crying spells, restless sleep, or lack of self control. Gan Mai Da Zao Tang (甘麥大棗湯), or “Licorice, Wheat, and Jujube Decoction,” is the classic formula for treating Restless Organ syndrome by nourishing the Heart, calming the mind, and relaxing tension.

Farmer with milky oat tops


Like the Jade Windscreen formulation for spring, Gan Mai Da Zao Tang is decocted with just three herbs: wheat berry, licorice root, and Chinese date. Each plant in this formula supports the others in a harmonious balance.

  • Wheat berry (Triticum aestivum, Poaceae. Xiao mai, 小麥): Sweet and salty wheat berries nourish Heart qi, or the underlying processes that support Chinese Medicine’s Heart health. Its slight astringency helps bring dispersed emotions back to center. Western herbal considerations include similarly grounding, nourishing, and nervous-system regulating nervines, such as milky oats (Avena sativa) and linden (Tilia spp).
  • Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza uralensis, Fabaceae. Gan cao, 甘草)Sweet licorice supports wheat berries in nourishing the Heart, while tonifying the whole body, harmonizing the formula via the digestive system. With 90% of the body’s serotonin made in the digestive tract, digestive health is integral to overall health. A plentiful common weed to consider as an adjunct is soothing marshmallow root (Althea spp).
  • Chinese date (Ziziphus jujuba, Rhamnaceae. Da zao, 大棗): Chinese date and licorice root both gently moisten internal dryness, sweetly yet gently tonifying the digestive system, and lightly clearing internal heat. Other herbs with an affinity with the heart include hawthorn flowers, leaves, and fruit (Crataegus spp), and Goji berries (Lycium barbarum).


Fun day at the beach with mother and child.


This safe, simple, and sweet three-herb formula is traditionally prepared as a decoction, with 9-60 g of Wheat berries (Xiao mai, 小麥), 6-20 g of Licorice root (Gan cao, 甘草) and 10-30 g of Chinese dates (Da zao, 大棗).


(For more information and inspiration from the author, visit JilingLin.com.)

Looking for More Wellness Recipes?

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Traditional Chinese Medicine Pinterest pin for Mountain Rose Herbs.

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. For educational purposes only

Topics: Recipes, Herbalism

Jiling Lin- Guest Writer

Written by Jiling Lin- Guest Writer on July 21, 2020

Jiling Lin, L.Ac. is an Earth-centered acupuncturist, herbalist, and yoga teacher in Ventura, CA. She cultivates thriving health for fellow healthcare practitioners, artists, and athletes through holistically accessible clinical and educational support, specializing in managing pain, chronic illness, and psycho-spiritual wellness. Jiling connects wilderness, creativity, and Spirit through both internal and external environmental stewardship. She facilitates integrative embodied- wellness events nationally and internationally, including wilderness- immersion retreats, herbal workshops, community acupuncture, and emergency medical support. Between patients and students, Jiling is hiking, backpacking, surfing, climbing, and botanizing around Ventura, and beyond. For consultation info and more, visit JilingLin.com.

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