Feeling the heat? Mother Nature provides the perfect solutions!
Summer is all about lazy days and family vacations. It’s flip flops and sand castles. It’s floating the river and eating lots of ice cream. It’s campfires and roasting marshmallows. It’s long days and late nights outside. It’s having a ‘farmer’ tan and the smell of sunscreen. Summer just feels easier, but it’s also stinkin’ HOT!!!
By now most of us are just looking for some relief from the heat. Besides staying inside and whining and complaining about how hot we are, here are some other options:
- Cover your body with light thin clothing
- Stay hydrated…try coconut water, water with cucumber slices or coriander tea
- Use a slightly drenched cloth on the back of your neck and face (I make sure to have my own so I don’t have to share anybody else’s sweat…just sayin)
Another thing to do is use herbs with cooling energies.
Diaphoretic herbs help to open the body’s pores and stimulate sweating. I know you are thinking “but I am already sweating my ass off why would I want to make myself sweat more?!” You want to use them because they help your body release heat!
Try a little cayenne in your food. While this may seem counterintuitive, eating spicy food is common in warm weather countries. They do that to stay cool! By eating spicy food you end up staying cool longer than eating cold food. Sounds crazy, I know, but eating cold food will only cool down your body for about 15-20 minutes. After that you can actually feel hotter because your body needs to transfer heat to where it is sensing cold. If you eat spicy food, you sweat and it cools down your whole body. Clear as mud huh? Trust me and try some warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and black pepper. Plus your digestion will thank you!
Another herb to try is mint. It is a diaphoretic herb and a nice glass of mint tea can help to cool you down better than just a plain glass of water.
Try spraying yarrow tincture on the back of your neck.
Elderflowers are also diaphoretic, so they will warm you up to cool you down. A fun way to use those elderflowers you picked this spring is to make an elderflower cordial. Basically combine the flowers, some lemon, water and honey. You can then dilute it with sparkling water or add it to your favorite cocktail. Emily Han has a recipe in her book Wild Drinks and Cocktails. https://emilyhan.com/ I highly recommend it!
The sour flavor of certain herbs and food used small amounts can also have a cooling effect in the body. Herbs like Lemon Balm, Rose Hips, Hibiscus and Hawthorn and sour food like lemon, lime, yogurt and blueberry can give help give some cool relief.
Lemon Balm is also great to give you a little zip in the middle of the day when your brain starts to get foggy from all the heat! Try making a Lemon Balm Iced Tea.
Lemon Balm Iced Tea
½ cup fresh Lemon Balm (pack it pretty tight)
4 cups of just boiled water
About 1/3 cup of lemon juice
Honey to taste, about 2 tbsp. or more if you like it sweeter
Directions: Put the Lemon Balm in a small pot and cover with the just boiled water. Let steep with a lid on for about an hour. Strain out the leaves and add the lemon juice and honey. Put a slice of lemon, some raspberries and ice into a glass and pour in the tea.
Another category of herbs to use for summer heat are nervines. Nervines are herbs that act on the nervous system to reduce overactive stress responses and help the body get back to a resting and relaxing state. Nervines can help us stay emotionally cool and help us wind down after summer days of being on the go go go!
Linden is a delightfully fragrant flower that can help to relax the body and mind which helps us to rest. Try a Linden flower tea to cool, moisten and quench your thirst or make a Linden flower honey to enjoy on your favorite breakfast foods or to flavor your teas.
I purchased a Linden Flower wine many, many years ago at an herb conference and thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was so good! Unfortunately I didn’t think to keep the name of the person who made it.
Skullcap is another herb that is a cooling, soothing nervine. It eases tension and relaxes muscles and is a general anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. It is a great herb to help you wind down and relax after all the summer activities. Try it as a tincture or tea.
Peach is cooling and moistening and also helps the body to relax from overall stress. Herbalist Kiva Rose says “peach leaf tea is like lying back in the river and just letting the water flow over you.” You can eat peaches too of course but why not try a nice glass of peach leaf tea?
Cooling food is also a must when the temperatures are scorching. And in the summer you don’t need to eat a lot of heavy food anyway.
Sweet foods encourage moisture in the body. But that is not a free pass to eat a bunch of sugary food. Fruit is a great source of healthy sweet food. Just remember that ideally fruit is eaten by itself. Try eating naturally sweet foods like:
- Watermelon, it’s actually over 90% water
Bitter Vegetables are also helpful because of their drying properties. They cool by drying moisture and sweat. Try eating:
- Green Beans
- Leafy greens like collard, dandelion and kale
- Brussel Sprouts
Astringent foods are also drying and helpful in summer heat. Try:
- Legumes especially peas, adzuki, lentils (red), pinto beans and garbanzo beans (make up a batch of hummus for your summer picnic!)
You can also add some herbs to your cooling food for an extra boost.
- Dill (sprinkle it over your beans)
- Fennel (try it with zucchini)
- Mint (add it to your watermelon)
If you eat grains, keep it to the cooling grains in the summer.
Hope you stay cool as a cucumber and experiment with some herbs to help you roll with the heat!