After a long cold winter, it’s hard to imagine we would be bothered by heat. As recent Bay Area temperatures dip into the triple digits, we can keep cool with diet and exercise. Summer correlates to the Fire Element and is the most yang, masculine and active of seasons. The Fire Element corresponds to The heart, “king of all organs” and is home to the Mind, (Shen/Spirit) and aspects of consciousness including intelligence, creativity, thought, sleep and memory.
To keep our cool in summer, select lighter fare such as leafy greens, salads, fruit, melons, asparagus, broccoli, corn, long grain rice, smoothies and yogurt. Cucumbers, mulberries and watermelon and raw foods are especially cooling. Victims of heatstroke are often deficient in potassium so be sure to include potassium rich foods such as bananas, cantaloupe and potatoes. Consuming more liquids help keep us cool. A squeeze of lemon or lime in purified water helps quench thirst. Make your own sodas by adding a few spoons of fruit juice concentrate then filling the glass with natural sparkling water. Herbal iced teas can provide a wealth of trace minerals. Nature provides herbs that can relieve internal heat, are cooling and nourishing during the heat of summer and can be enjoyed as cool
Herbs that can relieve internal heat, are cooling and nourishing and can be enjoyed as cool beverages include:
– Hawthorn leaf and flower (Crataegus species) strengthens the heart and aids digestion.
– Yellow chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium) cools the body without cooling digestion.
– Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) cool the body by gently dilating the pores so heat can escape and provide luscious lemon flavor.
– Red clover (Trifolium pratense) cools the body and improves circulation.
– Spearmint (Mentha spicata) and peppermint (Mentha piperita) are both considered refrigerants in that they help lower body temperature.
– Raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus) and strawberry leaf (Fragaria vesca) are mineral rich and have a flavor similar to black tea.
– Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) makes a tart refreshing pink tea that cools and provides vitamin C..
– Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), is considered an adaptogen and can help one adapt to extreme changes in climate.
Water is the most yin of elements and can cool heat through external use during this season. Make a spritzer by filling an 8 ounce spray bottle with spring water, 2 teaspoons of witch hazel and 10 drops of lavender and 10 drops of peppermint essential oils. With eyes and mouth closed gently spray face and neck to cool off. Soak in a warm bathtub to which five drops essential oil of peppermint, which provides an icy chill.
Wake up earlier to enjoy the coolness of the morning and slow down activities. Take a nap during the hot part of the day if possible when you are likely to feel low in energy. Yoga is an excellent summer exercise as your muscles and tendons are already relaxed from the warm weather and the postures can be vitalizing.