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Summer prescription: build up cool yin energy to beat the heat

DIFFERENT energy-reinforcing herbs are eaten in different seasons. Summer is the time to reinforce cool yin energy and expel excessive heat and damp. Zhang Qian reports. Many Chinese people dose themselves all year round with reinforcing therapy to balance their energy and keep their bodies in tune with the changing energy in the universe.

Reinforcement therapy can be taken in any season, though it's most common and effective in winter.

Traditional Chinese medicine recommends different reinforcing strategies for different seasons and it's important to dose yourself correctly lest your yin and yang get out of whack.

Reinforcement is not always healthy: Over-reinforcing or the incorrect reinforcement can cause problems. Different strategies are required for different constitutions and different seasons.

Summer is the time to reinforce cool yin energy and expel pathogenic heat and damp.

Be clear about what you need, when you need it and which herbs are best.

Many people know that ginseng is the best overall energy-reinforcing herb, deer's antler is best for reinforcing yang energy, and bird's nest is the best yin energy-reinforcing herb.

What you should also know is that deer's antler is "warm," bird's nest is "neutral," and there are "warm" ginsengs as well as "cold and "neutral" ones.


In spring, the energy in the human body starts to sprout and grow together with the strengthening energy in the universe. To help this energy grow properly, ping bu (plain reinforcement) is recommended as it's gentle and won't influence the rising energy balance.

Most of the recommended reinforcing herbs and foods in spring are "neutral," such as white ginseng, bird's nest, dangshen (radix codonopsitis) and huangqi (milk veteh, astragalus).

Generally, you can just cook ginseng soup or make ginseng tea. It's a good idea to cook herbal cuisine using neutral ginsengs and other neutral reinforcing foods like yam, lotus seeds and hyacinth beans.

Patent TCM drugs can help. They include Renshen Fengwang Jiang (Ginseng Royal Jelly), Renshen Jianpi Wan (Ginseng Benefiting Spleen Pill), Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan (Reinforcing Energy in Middle-jiao Pill) and Si Junzi Wan (Four Gentlemen's Pill) made of dangshen, baishu (atractylodes macrocephaia), fuling (tuckahoe) and liquorice.

Since temperature and yang energy ascend in the universe in spring, it's better not to eat too many "warm" foods or herbs.


Summer is the season of prosperity, not only in terms of nature but also for the energy inside human bodies. As pathogenic heat and dampness prevail in the universe, many people have a weakened digestive system. Taking reinforcing foods that are too strong and eating greasy foods will aggravate the problem.

Qing bu (clear reinforcement) is the summer strategy of reinforcement. Recommended herbs and foods are usually "cold" or "neutral" and help clear up the internal pathogenic heat and damp, while reinforcing healthy energy.

"Cold" North American ginseng and "neutral" white ginseng are recommended. You can chew dried chips or make tea or soup. Try making congee with white ginseng, chrysanthemum, ebony, maidong (dwarf lily turf root), shihu (dendrobe) or wuweizi (shizandra).

Ginseng leaves can help dispel pathogenic heat, and promote creation of body fluids that are quickly consumed in hot days. Patent drugs like American ginseng royal jelly and Qingshu Yiqi Wan (Clear Summer-heat and Reinforce Energy Pill) made of herbs like ginseng and shizandra can help reinforce energy in summer.

"Clear reinforcement" is suitable for most people except for those who are weak and often suffer pathogenic cold, such as diarrhea.

Don't overdo it lest yang energy be weakened.


The weather gets cool and dry in autumn, so does the human body. It's still not the season for major reinforcement. Run bu (nourishing reinforcement) is recommended to help promote fluids and nourish organs.

"Neutral" white ginseng is recommended, as well as pear, persimmon, apricot, lily's root, white fungus and chufa that can protect against pathogenic dryness.

Patent reinforcing drugs for autumn include Shen Qi Gao (Ginseng Wolfberry Paste) made of dangshen and gouqi (wolfberry), Renshen Guben Wan (Ginseng Pill for Strengthening Body's Essence) mainly made of ginseng and rehmanniae, and Qiong Yu Gao (Beautiful Jade Paste) made of rehmanniae, fuling and dangshen.


It's the season to store up energy to get through the cold season. Wen bu (warm reinforcement) is required in the season. Most recommended herbs and foods are of rich fat gelatin.

"Warm" red ginseng is recommended. Deer's antler and e'jiao (donkey-hide gelatin) are recommended unless someone suffers pathogenic heat-related problems like high blood pressure.

TCM recommends congee or soup made of the herbs together with reinforcing foods like walnuts, gouqi, sea cucumber, abalone, eel, bird's nest and crucian carp.

Stop reinforcement if you have cold, fever or diarrhea.


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