Stay calm, cool and collected during the summer months with equilibrium enhancing foods and herbs that are a perfect antidote to rising temperatures.
As we enter into the dog days of summer, it’s easy to keep cool with specific foods and herbs under our belt. Using the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we can remain balanced, calm and energetic as the mercury rises. Particular suggestions border on simple common sense, others may be more surprising. But one aspect is certain – when the body is comfortable, healthy and at ease, the delights of summer are far more enjoyable.
The fire element, summer and you
Traditional Chinese Medicine views summer as the season of the fire element and heart. States of joy (or lack of it) as well as over excitement are associated with this time of year. The element rules the small intestine while the heart is home to aspects of consciousness like intelligence, memory, creativity, thought and sleep. Excess heat during summertime can aggravate the fire element in the body – causing lethargy, anger and irritability. However, with a measure of care and attention, we need not become imbalanced and hot under the collar. Instead, equilibrium enhancing food and drink are the perfect antidote to rising tempers.
Calm, cool and collected
During the summer months, it is important to choose fare that is light, easily digested and hydrating. Bitter is the flavor associated with the fire element and generally has a cooling effect on the system. Greens like dandelion, endive, escarole and watercress are good choices. For ease of digestion and hydration, select foods like melon, lemon, cucumber, tomato, mango and peach. Fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro and basil are beneficial as well. Potassium-rich foods are helpful to avoid heatstroke. Focus on coconut water, banana, potato and cantaloupe. Steer clear of digestive intensive foods like dairy, bread and dark meats – fish and chicken are better options.
Food choices are not the only method to keep the body comfortable. Herbs are also a top notch remedy for maintaining a balanced and unruffled system.
Refresh with herbs
It’s no wonder various cultures around the world use specific herbs to diminish the effect of blazing temperatures. Through experience and intuition they recognized the cooling properties of certain plants. Lemongrass infused cuisine in Southeast Asia or mint tea enjoyed in Middle Eastern countries are just a few examples. And Western herbalists have taken note. In Food and Herbs to Keep You Cool in the Summer, author Brigitte Mars offers the following recommendations:
Hawthorn leaf flower supports digestion and fortifies the heart.
Yellow chrysanthemum cools the body without hindering digestion.
Lemongrass and lemon balm dilate the pores so heat can be released.
Red clover encourages circulation and keeps the body cool.
Spearmint and peppermint both reduce body temperature.
Raspberry leaf and strawberry leaf assist in replenishing minerals lost through perspiration.
Hibiscus is a refreshingly tart tea that is rich in vitamin C.
Mars also advises consuming room temperature beverages as icy drinks can hinder digestion. Additionally, avoid alcoholic beverages such as red wine, brandy, rum and whiskey due to their heating qualities.